Bengaluru-based edtech unicorn BYJU’S has raised $150 Mn from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). This round also includes the participation from edtech investment firm Owl Ventures, who has first time invested in an Indian startup.
BYJU’S will use this funding for international expansion and tailoring its product for a global audience. Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO, BYJU’S, said, “This partnership will support and strengthen our vision of creating and delivering personalised learning experiences to students. This will help us explore and leverage our expertise in creating immersive tech-enabled learning programs for students in smaller cities, regions and newer markets.”
This is QIA’s second big investment in an Indian company. It had earlier invested $150Mn in the Indian ecommerce company Flipkart in 2014. Also, Accel Partners had sold its stake in Flipkart to QIA in 2015.
“This investment underscores QIA’s strong commitment to the education sector and our focus on investing in leading innovators in the TMT industry globally,” said Mansoor Al-Mahmoud, CEO of QIA.
Sovereign wealth funds are government-owned investment funds comprising of country reserves, as well as international investors.
BYJU’S, founded by Divya Gokulnath and Byju Raveendran in 2008, is a learning platform with programmes for students of IV-XII standard along with competitive exams preparation courses such as JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE, and GMAT. It recently launched Early learn, a new gamified learning product aimed at kids aged 1 to 3 years in partnership with Disney.
BYJU’S was last valued at $ 5Bn in March and has raised over $969.8 Mn in funding till now. Other investors in BYJU’S include General Atlantic, Tencent, Naspers, and Canada’s Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) among others.
BYJU’S has claimed to have tripled its revenue to INR 1,430 Cr ($204.36 Mn) in FY18-19, to turn profitable on a full year basis.
Company claims to have over 35 Mn registered users, with 60% of its students hailing from outside of the top 10 cities. Further, its average overall renewal rate is said to be 85%. According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2019 report, BYJU’S number of paying students between the ages of 9-17, had crossed over 1.5 Mn in March 2019 from the 1 Mn mark in the last financial year.
Indian Edtech Segment
Indian edtech segment is expected to be a $1.96 Bn market by 2021. According to DataLabs by Inc42, there were 3,500 edtech startups in India in 2018. Between 2014 to 2018, 182 edtech startups were funded with a total of $1.34 Bn. Of this, about 77% was poured into just four edtech companies — BYJU’s, Toppr, Unacademy, and Vedantu.
Last month, another edtech startup Unacademy had secured a mammoth $50 Mn from Steadview Capital, Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. Prior to this in April, edtech startup DoubtNut had raised $3.3 Mn in a Pre-Series A round of funding led by Sequoia’s startup accelerator and incubation programme Surge.
In May 2019, Gurugram-based edtech startup CollegeDekho raised $8 Mn (INR 55.6 Cr) in its Series B funding round. Prior to this, in January, edtech company Eruditus group, which runs Eruditus Executive Education and its online division Emeritus, raised $40 Mn (INR 281 Cr) in a Series C funding round which was led by Sequoia India. The round also saw participation from Bertelsmann India Investments.