Edtech startup LEAD has raised $100 Mn to enter the unicorn club at a $1.1 bn valuation. The Series E funding round led by WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures has made LEAD the first Indian edtech unicorn this year.
Founded in 2012 by Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah, Mumbai-based LEAD is a school edtech startup that enables schools to combine technology, curriculum, and pedagogy into an integrated teaching and learning system.
According to the startup, it will be entering the 2022-23 academic year with more than 5000 schools from across 500 Indian cities on board, serving more than 2 Mn students. The startup will utilise the freshly-infused capital primarily towards product and curriculum innovation.
To carry forward the same, LEAD will be hiring top talent across the country while continuing to expand its footprint across the country. It also has long-term plans to serve underprivileged students in different geographies in the country as well.
“A child spends six hours in school and only one hour in tuition. Transforming schools, when done right, has massive potential to alter our country’s future. LEAD, with its integrated school system, has broken new ground in this direction. Our intense focus has been on learning outcomes and life success of our students,” said Smita Deorah, cofounder of LEAD.
In 2021, edtech startups raised over $4.7 Bn to emerge as the third-most funded Indian startup sector of 2021, with only ecommerce ($10.7 Bn) and fintech sectors ($8 Bn) attracting more investment.
Prior to 2020, the education sector did not receive much attention from investors. However, this changed drastically in 2020, with the Covid-induced lockdowns directly benefiting edtech companies which in turn prompted investors to flock to the sector.
Last year also, the edtech sector saw the making of three new Indian unicorns—Eruditus, upGrad and Vedantu. With LEAD, Indian edtech startups in the unicorn club now stands at six.
“LEAD has emerged as the gold standard for transforming K-12 education in India. The company acts as the Intel inside for affordable schools and guarantees 70%+ mastery in all subjects and all grades for lower and middle-income students and exceeds the guarantee,” said Deborah Quazzo, managing partner at GSV Ventures.
Despite the tremendous opportunity for the edtech sector, there are criticisms doing the rounds lately over the functioning of the same. To cope up with the same, yesterday, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) announced the formation of India EdTech Consortium (IEC), a self-regulatory body of industry stakeholders to ensure code of conduct for its member edtech companies.
The members of the Consortium include: BYJU’s, Careers 360, Great Learning, Harappa, Times Edutech & Events Ltd, Scalar, Simplilearn, Toppr, Unacademy, upGrad, Vedantu and WhiteHat