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How Byju’s became a billion dollar educational startup

BYJU’s has raised Rs 214 crore funding from General Atlantic and Chinese conglomerate Tencent and is now valued at over $5 billion.

Byju’s – India’s most loved education app is on a growth rampage and perhaps among the rare product innovations that have come out of India in recent times.

The edtech startup is now a part of India’s prestigious unicorn club with $1 billion in estimated worth. Bengaluru-based Byju’s in its runway to changing how students learn recently snapped up two of the earliest businesses in technology-based education – TutorVista and Edurite.

The startup had earlier raised funding from Verlinvest, a large Belgian family-owned, consumer-focused, diversification investment holding company and had also secured $50 million in a round co-led by Mark Zuckerberg’s and Priscilla Chan’s investment arm – The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and Sequoia Capital, along with a bunch of other investors such as Sofina, Lightspeed Ventures, and Times Internet Ltd.

Here’s the journey of Byju’s:

2008 – Among very few who cracked Common Admission Test (CAT) with 100 percent score globally and National Math Olympiad winner, Byju Raveendran started BYJU’s CAT classes for CAT training.

2009 – Started online video-based coaching for CAT.

2011 – Byju Raveendran registered it as a company called Think & Learn focusing on the K-12 segment.

2012 October – Awarded as fastest-growing tech companies in India under Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India.

2013 September – He raised $9 million from Aarin Capital in Series A round.

2014 – Launched tablet learning program for competitive exams and grades eight to 12th.

2015 July – Secured $25 million in Series B round led by Sequoia Capital

2015 August – Introduced Byju’s learning app, and more than two million students came on the app in three months of launch.

2016 March – Raised $75 million in Series C round led by Sequoia Capital and Sofina.

2016 September – Secured Series D round of $50 million from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – the philanthropic initiative of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan. Paid subscribers stood at more than 2.5 lac.

2016 December – Adds Series E round of $15 million led by International Finance Corporation in exchange for a minority stake.

2017 January – Acquired learning guidance platform for students Vidyartha for an undisclosed sum to boost its personalized learning products.

2017 March – Reached alleged valuation of $600 million with an additional $30 million in Series F from Verlinvest, a family office based in Brussels.

2017 May – Became a case study at Harvard Business School to illustrate how, through technology, Byju’s has been impacting learning among students.

2017 July– Acquired TutorVista and Edurite from Pearson to expedite its international expansion including the US and improve its product offerings Byju’s currently had more than 80 lac students on its platform out of which more than 4 lac are paid.

2017 July – This values Byju’s at around $670 million and access to around 2,000 teachers connected with TutorVista globally including US, China, Australia, UK, etc., apart from education content in the form of CDs and DVDs that Edurite operates in.

2017 July – The company earned INR 260 crore in revenues last fiscal year and is aiming for profitability in current FY18.

2017 November – signed up actor Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador

2018 March– Turned unicorn with a valuation of over $1 billion as per online reports. It was last valued close to $800 million.

About the founder:

Byju Raveendran
Byju Raveendran

Byju Raveendran is the founder and CEO of Byju’s Classes, the Education Technology firm whose tagline is “Fall in love with learning” The BYJU’S story was born out of the need for high quality, engaging and accessible education. The core philosophy of BYJU’s is to inspire a lifelong love of learning.

Today BYJU’s has become India’s largest Education Technology (Learning) company, that is reinventing how students learn, through its learning app.

Since its launch last year, the learning app has already seen phenomenal engagement, with over 3.5 million students on its platform. BYJU’s Learning App makes use of original content, watch-and-learn videos, rich animations and interactive simulations that, as opposed to rote memorization, make learning contextual and visual, not just theoretical.

The founders of Byju’s — Byju Raveendran, his wife Divya Gokulnath and his brother Riju Raveendranare now collectively worth Rs. 9,347 crore after the companies latest $400 million fundraises from South Africa-based Naspers and Canadian pension fund CPPIB.

The funding had valued Byju’s at $3.6 billion, and the founders’ stake of 38% in the company now makes them among the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the country.

The windfall for the Byju’s founders is partly because of their high personal stake-holding in Byju’s — even after having raised nearly $600 million, Byju’s founders hold 38% of the total shares in the ed-tech startup.

In comparison, other startup founders now don’t have nearly the same amount of stake– Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, for instance, now owns only 14% of Paytm, while Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal collectively held nearly 10% of Flipkart when Walmart acquired it. Ola founders Bhavish Aggarwal, and Ankit Bhati owns 10% of Ola.

Byju’s has also managed to run a tight ship while touching its $3.6 billion valuations. While Paytm has 20,000 employees, Flipkart has 30,000 and Ola has between 6000-7000 employees, Byju’s only has 2,600 people on its rolls. And unlike most other startups, it isn’t mired in losses — while Flipkart, Paytm and Ola have losses that run into the thousands of crores, Byju’s claimed it had become profitable on a run-rate basis earlier this year.

These are pretty impressive stats for a company that isn’t usually talked about in the same vein as the Flipkarts and the Paytms but has been quietly building its business nonetheless.

It’s a stunning entrepreneurial journey for Byju Raveendran, who was born to a Physics teacher father and a Mathematics teacher mother and could soon be teaching millions of children across the world the very same subjects.

Byju’s Brand Building:

Byju's Advertisement
Byju’s Advertisement

Byju Raveendran says he builds fan bases—a strange thing to say for someone who is the founder and chief executive officer of an education startup.

“I believe when you take sessions in auditoriums, you’re creating a kind of fan following. You can’t do a math class in a stadium. It has to be a math performance,” says Raveendran, 36.

His performances have served him exceedingly well — his company Byju’s, run by Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd is India’s best-funded education startup, has raised $204 million from venture investors Aarin Capital, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Lightspeed India Partners Advisors, Sequoia Capital India Advisors, Sofina SA, and Times Internet Ltd and Brussels-based family office Verlinvest SA.

Their product is built on that strong belief that when students learn on their own, where they take the initiative, whatever you call learning, that counts for 50%. Unfortunately, today it’s 100% spoon-feeding in a lot of students’ cases, 100% learning for exams, and not the other way around – said, Mr. Byju Raveendran.

Byju’s initial offerings were all focused on test-preparation and were much more low-key than the high-production-value videos and content that it currently generates for the K-12 (kindergarten-Class XII) segment.

This content is what’s helping Byju’s accelerate growth and be one of the top education startups in the country.

Since launching in 2015, Byju’s claims its app has had more than six million downloads. It had 320,000 active users as of November last year. The number of people who buy its premium service is growing every month claims the firm.

“A great company will be converting anywhere around 8-12% of people who try out their app. 8-12% is a relatively high number given the fact that in education, your ticket sizes are larger as well. You’re no longer selling a Rs 500 product or a Rs 200 product; you’re selling a product which runs into thousands of rupees. Also, with education, unlike most of the sectors, the repeat rates are very high.”

For example, a student would start with Byju’s in the sixth standard or seventh, so Byju’s is looking at a four-year or seven-year timeline in some instances, where they can continue to tap into the same user,” says Kunal Walia, founder and managing partner at Khetal Advisors, a Bengaluru-based investment bank that has worked with multiple education startups.

Raveendran trusts the core team he put in place, and the culture that the company naturally has, to take the message forward. Most of the top management, which includes his wife Divya Gokulnath, who is also a director in the firm, were his students.

Byju’s has made progress in cracking the business-to-consumer (B2C) market, one typically thought to be very tricky because it involves not just engaging children, but convincing parents that an app is a suitable substitute for real-world coaching, and trusting the company with their child’s education.

A big part of this, it claims, is its focus on content and designing personalized learning through what it calls a “knowledge graph.” With this, the app learns which concepts a student may need more practice at, and adjusts learning plans accordingly.

The fact that Byju’s had an offline presence has also served in gaining parents’ trust in the brand.

There are deep learning and deep brand visibility that gets built when you are an offline company, to begin with. For you to transition to online, it becomes much more comfortable because there is some recall factor there and people see that as one of the experts in the domains. That brand resiliency of moving from offline and expanding to online is what helped Byju’s considerably, along with the content.

Byju’s Investors:

1) Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative:

Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan, envisions improving human potential and promoting equality.

It is closely aligned with their value proposition. Byju’s are excited to be the first-ever Asian company to have their backing. In the words of Vivian Wu of CZI, “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports innovative models of learning wherever they are around the world. BYJU’S represents an opportunity to help even more students develop a love for learning and unhitch their potential”.

2) Sequoia Capital India:

Sequoia believes in ‘helping daring build legendary companies.’ At BYJU’S they have attempted to democratize access to education in India in a way that’s never been done previously and make millions fall in love with learning. G V Ravishankar, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital India, had said that “BYJU’S will be India’s Biggest Education Story.”

3) Sofina:

Sofina has shown its faith in the company, which is changing the way the world will learn. It has backed them at a time where they were accelerating to the next level. Byju’s is happy that Maxence Tombeur shares their vision of revolutionizing education and is there to guide them.

4) Verlinvest:

Eric Melloul - Managing Director at Verlinvest
Eric Melloul – Managing Director at Verlinvest

Verlinvest is a private Belgian family investment company, specializing in growth capital. One of the largest private investors in branded consumer companies in the F&B, retail & hospitality, consumer digital, and education segments, Byju’s is delighted to have them on board.

5) Light Speed Venture Partners:

Light Speed Venture Partners

Lightspeed is known for backing several education technology companies in the US, China, and India. Dev Khare, Managing Director, Lightspeed India Partners Advisors states, “I am confident that BYJU’s market-leading offerings are unique and transformational. Their products are specifically geared with a differentiated pedagogy to the needs of India’s 250 million students.”

Apart from that, the other investors are:

6) Times Internet

Times Internet

Times Internet sees them as the company whose mission is to empower everyone who aspires to learn.

7) Aarin Capital

Aarin Capital

8) IFC

9) Tencent

10) Nasper Ventures

11) General Atlantic

12) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Byjus’s Valuation:

Edtech platform BYJU’s has raised Rs 214 crore funding from existing investors New York-headquartered equity firm General Atlantic and Chinese conglomerate Tencent, according to the filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).

With this, the company is now valued at over $5 billion and is one of the most valued startups in India. The company plans to use the proceeds on international expansion, said media reports.

This comes right after BYJU’S operator, Think & Learn, raised between Rs 31.32 crore and Rs 34.53 crore from General Atlantic. Tencent had also participated in the round, taking the total investment anywhere between Rs 75 crore and Rs 80 crore.BYJU’S has so far raised $795.5 million over nine rounds.

The startup has the domain name “Byju’s” in the name of its founder Byju Raveendran. It signifies that he has started it. When the word “Byju’s” comes in mind, the jingle ‘the learning app’ automatically strikes in your account. So, Byju’s has branded itself as “Byju’s – the learning app.”

So, Byju’s has a short and catchy name and yet unique. It also has Shahrukh Khan as it’s Brand Ambassador, which is also the reason that this unique brand name has worked for the startup.

So, if you wish to start your very own educational startup, has perfectly suitable three domain names, they are:


learnrr is a .com domain. Learnrr describes that it’s about learning and education. Dotcom domains are the most valued top-level-domain in the world; it is much easier to get ranked in search engines like


1stdesk is a .com domain similar to learnrr, which is much easier to get ranked in search engines like signifies that you keep education as 1st priority.


It is also a dotcom. Studyquote has a combination of two words Study and Quote that signifies education with learning.