We have all seen Sharukh Khan advertise Byju’s, we probably even have enrolled in their classes or seek regular help from their website, be it for competitive exam prep or school syllabus. But how did an offline tuition class available to a few students only become a household name and a billion-dollar company? Presently Byju’s is being used by more than 15 million students worldwide and has over 900,000 paid subscribers. Its approach is based on proven and effective learning methods, personalized learning, and world-class teachers.
How it all started
Byju Raveendran, a software engineer posted abroad who while visiting India helped out some of his friends with their preparation for their CAT exam in 2003. He even appeared for the exam himself, twice, and scored a 100 percentile, both times! But instead of going to the prestigious IIM’s, he chose to go down the entrepreneurial route and started taking classes to help students prepare for the exam.
Soon word spread and he gained popularity amongst aspirants and by 2007 he was teaching almost 1000 students in an auditorium. His methods of teaching were more visual learning-based than rot learning and cramming. The popularity kept on increasing and soon Byju’s spread over 9 cities besides Bangalore and Byju Raveendran himself had to travel multiple times a week to take classes.
Finally, in 2011, he started Think & Learn, which is now Byju’s parent company, to teach students math and science. His formers students and IIM graduates encouraged him to start Byju’s classes and thus Byju’s- The Learning App was launched in 2015. It took him almost 4 years to create the core learning material for students and the app. And in the first year of the launch, more than 5.5 million people had downloaded it.
Revenue and Growth
Byju’s – The Learning App works on a freemium basis, which intents that a free trial is provided for a limited number of days, following which a fee is charged to complete the course. Besides online classes and teaching, Byju’s has some offline classrooms as well.
The revenue for the company is generated by multiple teaching methods. Firstly, the membership fee itself. Students pay a certain amount of money to subscribe to the online classes, along with a few other offerings like test series, notes, etc. Secondly, Byju’s has created an electronic tablet of its own that the students buy. The tablet is filled with videos, quizzes, practice booklets, etc. And thirdly, the offline classroom fee.
Today Byju’s has 35 million students enrolled and more than 2.4 students paying somewhere between $150 to $200 as an annual subscription fee. Byju’s reported revenue increased from Rs 1430 crores in FY 2018-19 to Rs 2800 crores in FY 2019-2020. Byju’s is the fourth most highly valued start-up in India after only Paytm, Oyo and Ola.
It plans to double its business by the end of March 2021 and also expand to countries like the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and other global markets. It had already started making efforts of its US expansion by acquiring an American learning platform, Osmo, in January 2019. Byju’s also tied up with Disney to launch an early learning app for 1st to 3rd-grade students. In India as well it acquired companies like WhiteHatJr and Akash Educational Services Ltd among many.
Preparing the study material, that too with innovative yet fun and easy methods of learning, was definitely a big challenge for Byju Raveendran. Other challenges came with the paranoia that surrounds online learning. Breaking the myth of “classroom learning is better” must have been hard but in the end, it all paid off.
The stereotype and the association that mobile phones and other gadgets have especially in the minds of the parents is a hard nut to crack. The negative reputation of social media, video games, and other distractions on the internet is a concern all parents must have had. But Byju himself claimed in an interview that when parents watch their kids using technology for learning purposes they come around towards acceptance.
Even though Byju’s faces stiff competition with other study apps like Vedantu, Coursera, and even Japan’s Benesse Holdings which is Asia’s largest listed education company, it still had the largest sum of funding in 2016. It landed a $50 million funding for an undisclosed stake by a party that included the US venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan’s the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. In 2017, a Chinese company Tencent invested $40 million.
In a Forbes interview, Byju Raveendran said that “This is not a business which I started as a business, it’s a passion which ended up becoming a business.” His hard work and dedication towards his passion have surely paid off. He is one of the top billionaires in India and his company is growing at an astonishing rate every year.
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An aspiring civil servant, a curious mind but also an avid binge watcher- Prerna is currently pursuing BA Prog in English and Political Science from Kirori Mal College. She belongs to Chandigarh but really enjoys the hustle of Delhi. Her favourite pastime is taking naps and recognises herself as a pro at it.