Bengaluru-based upskilling platform Scaler Academy (formerly InterviewBit) has acquired Delhi-based edtech platform Coding Elements in an all-cash deal worth $1 Mn (≈INR 8 Cr). The company confirmed the acquisition amount and added that it is eyeing further acquisitions.
Coding Elements marks Scaler’s first acquisition and will help accelerate business growth. The two companies have been in talks for a month after Scaler’s foray into data science and machine learning courses. The acquisition will add product-based and strategy-rich courses to Scaler’s portfolio. The live learning courses will help students read, understand and write research papers and are targeted at data scientists, ML engineers and business analysts.
Earlier this year, Scaler set aside a fund pool of INR 50 Cr to explore M&A avenues. “Scaler is open to acquiring companies that support our business through product capabilities, have a quality team, as well as players whose offerings are in line with our own, allowing us to cater to a wider audience, attracting a diverse user base.” Abhimanyu Saxena, cofounder, Scaler Academy and InterviewBit told Inc42.
“We will be focused on edtech [companies] who focus on higher tech education given we have a very clear vision on the future of the same. On a shorter horizon we do not intend to venture into kids’ tech education,” he clarified about the company’s plans in the coding segment.
Scaler Academy by InterviewBit was launched in 2014 by Saxena and Anshuman Singh. The startup offers online computer science programmes for graduates and young professional software engineers. Backed by Sequoia and Tiger Global, it last raised $20 Mn in its Series A funding round. The company has over 500 employees and claims to have over 1000 tech professionals working as career coaches, teaching assistants, and mentors. Its placement offering includes roles at over 600 companies including Google, Amazon, Netflix, Flipkart, Uber, Curefit and Microsoft.
Coding Elements, started in 2017 by Mudit Goel, trains coders in tech skills such as data science, machine learning, and full-stack web and mobile app development. The bootstrapped platform had over 4000 in-person students. It moved online in 2020 and now offers coding courses for kids to assess live class format and opportunities in international markets. In partnership with NITI Aayog under Atal Innovation Mission, Coding Elements also offers courses to over 2 Mn students across 6000 schools. There will be no changes in the partnership with NITI Aayog post-acquisition and it will continue as is, the company said.
Talking about the acquisition, Saxena said, “A major trend that we have heard from hiring managers who source data scientists from Scaler is lack of practical knowledge in the workforce. While there are university courses on data science, the students have more theoretical knowledge. The motivation behind making this move [acquiring Coding Elements] is to create a more future-ready workforce that has more hands-on knowledge than theoretical knowledge.”
Scaler will conclude the active courses and batches of Coding Elements as per original plans; no new intake will be taken under CE going forward. CE founder Goel will take on the role of strategy and the product lead at Scaler and deepen Scaler’s relationship with industry partners.
Talking about international expansion, Saxena added, “We are only operational in India as of now. We have observed that a lot of our diverse user base comes from Tier I metro cities – Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc, but it is very interesting to see that people in Tier 2-3 are also interested in learning advanced technologies and making their career in tech. We have plans of international expansion in the first quarter of 2022 and are still evaluating, but the US, Europe, Southeast Asia are the areas that we are aiming for.”
The company claims to have an annual revenue rate of $4o Mn in the current calendar year. Saxena said the user base has grown 5x from the previous financial year and 4x from the last quarter with over 8000 active learners on Scaler and over 2 Mn users on InterviewBit.
The talent demand among Indian startups is driven by roles such as specialised engineers, AI/ML coders and backend developers, with their pay packages shooting through the roof in the last few years.
Upskilling students is still a major challenge for Indian companies; rising to the occasion are HRtech startups such as HackerRank, HackerEarth, Codlity, edtech startups such as Pesto, Udemy, SP robotics, Udacity, SOAL and upGrad who are upskilling engineers and entry-level workers. Camp K12, Codevidhya, Vedantu, Coding Ninjas, are some kids’ tech education startups. A sizable market of kids’ coding edtech lies with BYJU’S which acquired Whitehat Jr in August 2020 for $300 Mn and Toppr in July 2021 and its kids’ coding platform Toppr Codr.