Byju Raveendran has successfully added his name to the list of billionaires’ worldwide. The founder of Byju’s learning app, 37-year old is a former classroom teacher who developed an education app that’s grown to a valuation of almost $6 billion in about eight years.
The parent company of the app Think & Learn Pvt Ltd. recently raised $150 million in fresh funding taking the company’s valuation to near $6 billion. Byju Raveendran holds more than 21 percent stake in the company, making him one of the youngest billionaires.
Mr. Raveendran grew up in a village on India’s southern coast where his parents were school-teachers. He became an engineer and then began helping friends crack entry exams to top Indian engineering and management schools. Consequently, he started with modest classes until he finally began teaching thousands in sports stadiums, becoming a celebrity tutor who commuted between multiple cities during weekends.
He set up Think & Learn in 2011, offering online lessons before launching his main app in 2015.
BYJU’S -The Learning App is the common brand name for Think and Learn Private Ltd is a Bangalore-based educational technology (ed-tech) and online tutoring firm founded in 2011. In March 2019, it was the world’s most valued ed-tech company at $5.4 billion (Rs 37,000 crore).
Their main product is a mobile app named BYJU’S-The Learning App. It provides educational content mainly to school students from class 1 to 12 (primary to higher secondary level education). The company also trains students for examinations in India such as IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS as well as for international examinations such as GRE and GMAT.
BYJU’S runs on a freemium model (a business model, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for). Free access to content is limited to 15 days after the registration.
BYJU’S reports to have 33 million users overall, 2.2 million annual paid subscribers and an annual retention rate of about 85%. The app purports to tailor the content provided to the individual student’s learning pace and style.
The company announced that it will launch its app in regional Indian languages in 2019. It also plans to launch an international version of the app for English-speaking students in other countries in 2019.
The company recently announced to team up with Walt Disney Co. and taking its service to the USA.
As of 2019, BYJU’S has secured nearly $785 million in funding from investors, including Sequoia Capital India, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Tencent, Sofina, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Brussels-based family office Verlinvest, development finance institution IFC, Napsters Ventures, CPPIB and General Atlantic.
Currently, online learning is a booming sector in India and is expected to grow exponentially in the near future. Incidentally, internet usage is exploding because of the ubiquity of cheap smartphones and cut-price wireless plans. India’s online learning market is expected to more than double to $5.7 billion by 2020, according to the government-backed India Brand Equity Foundation.