Unacademy cofounder Gaurav Munjal has announced the edtech unicorns plans to venture into celebrity-taught extracurricular courses. The venture, currently dubbed as ‘Unacademy Icons’ is slated to launch in 2022.
While the Unacademy spokesperson did not comment on the development, the news comes directly from one of Munjal’s tweets. DeckRooster cofounder and ex-Unacademy employee Vivek Raju stated that Unacademy could venture into ‘Funacademy’ with the launch of hobby courses such as arts, singing, music, among others. To which, Munjal replied, “Unacademy Icons is launching soon.”
Prima facie, the venture seems to be the likes of FrontRow, Celebrity School, Artium Academy and Mento, where classes would be taught by notable celebrities of the field. The working model would only be clearer once the unicorn comes out with the launch officially.
“There are no additional details which can be shared at the moment,” an Unacademy spokesperson told Inc42 in an emailed query.
The entrance exams-focussed learning platform has been aggressively building its presence across new categories and exploring international expansion, cofounder Roman Saini had claimed in December 2021.
As a part of the expansion strategy, Unacademy acquired five startups in 2021 — CBSE & ICSE-centred online tuitions for K-10 classes, Swiflearn, creator-focussed edtech platform Spayee, game streaming startup Rheo TV, networking and recruitment platform TapChief and CAT and MBA preparation platform Handa Ka Funda.
The Many Facets Of Unacademy
In 2010, Gaurav Munjal started Unacademy as a YouTube channel. Five years later, it was officially registered as an edtech startup based out of Bengaluru. Unacademy last raised $440 Mn in Series H funding at a valuation of $3.4 Bn in August 2021.
In October 2021, Unacademy’s monthly numbers looked something like — 14K+ teachers, 1.5 Lakh classes and 6 Cr+ students. The unicorn offers preparation study material for several professional and educational entrance exams in the form of live classes both free and via subscription.
The Unacademy app and website offer test prep material for IIT-JEE, UPSC, SSC, NEET, GATE, among others. In 2021, it launched Relevel, a new gamified product to enable job-seekers to showcase their skills and get employed at some of India’s largest startups. The startup also has a third branch, Graphy, that allows content creators to grow their audience, monetise their skills, and host live cohort-based courses.
While Unacademy Icons apparently looks quite similar to Graphy, the key difference is that Graphy is an LMS (of sorts) allowing content creators to create, brand and sell their own content.
If ‘Icons’ is anything like the celebrity-taught hobby-focussed edtech, the MasterClass-style venture would be a creator as well as a curator of courses from well-known industry experts and not just any content creator. It would be beyond just a launch software.
The Boom Of Extracurricular Edtech In India
Thanks to an increase in customers in the backdrop of schools and other educational institutions being shut for most of 2020 and 2021, the education sector has seen greenshoots with emerging many hobby-based edtech startups.
In fact, the present on-and-off mode persistent in educational institutes in the current year has contributed to an increased interest in kids as well as adults learning newer activities.
With startups including FrontRow, Bambinos, BitClass, EduRaaga, users can learn new skills from fellow content creators and industry experts.
Not just hobby-focussed startups, the extracurricular activities’ edtech segment has seen interest from existing edtech giants as well. For example, when BYJU’s acquired WhiteHat Jr, it was only a kids coding platform. Today, it has ventured into language, music, math, art, animation and video making.
With no launch details yet, it is safe to say that Unacademy may or may not be the same idea as US-based MasterClass.
Yet, if Unacademy comes out with celebrity-taught courses, Icons might just be the push for startups that are trying to gain acceptance amid India’s textbook and school-approved-teacher learning methodology.