As everyone in the startup ecosystem waits to see which way the funding winter winds will turn, Unacademy, the online learning platform, today raised Series A funding of $4.5 million in a round led by Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. The round also saw participation from Girish Mathrubootham, CEO, Freshdesk, and Ananth Narayanan, CEO, Myntra, along with Stanford Angels.
This is the third round of funding for Unacademy; the startup had first raised funding to the tune of $500,000, followed by a funding of $1 million. With this current round of funding, Unacademy aims to aggressively build its base of educators from 200 to 2,000 within this year. And these educators will be across various topics and fields like language learning, professional growth topics and exam preparation.
Gaurav Munjal, CEO of Unacademy, adds,
Being a product guy myself, I would like to focus on building a world class product and bringing in world class educators to the platform. We have the toppers of top examinations and people like Kiran Bedi on Unacademy. The goal is to get the best of the best.
Unacademy also believes that its active user base will organically grow from 200,000 to 1 million this year. Running as a YouTube channel since 2010, Unacademy was founded by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, Hemesh Singh and Sachin Gupta as an educational YouTube channel.
Gaurav and Hemesh were previously running Flatchat, which was acquired by CommonFloor in 2014. Roman, 24, is a doctor from AIIMS and one of the youngest persons to crack the Civil Services Examination. He quit the administrative services from the post of Asst. Collector of Jabalpur to follow his passion and start Unacademy, which was officially launched in January 2016.
Within this one year, the team at Unacademy claims to have grown over tenfold, and they add that they have seen over five million video views from their website and YouTube channel put together. As of last year, the startup was said to have attracted over one million video views.
Unacademy also plans to launch its Android app by the end of February. The startup's vision is to get the best minds of the country to share their knowledge in an easily comprehensible form. Based out of Bengaluru, Unacademy allows educators to create courses, using their app, on various subjects, including exclusive content for various competitive exams, which can be accessed by students.
Unacademy now claims to have more than 500,000 registered users and over 200,000 active users. Gaurav adds that they want Unacademy to be the largest platform in the world where teachers or educators come and share their knowledge.
He says, “Our teachers apply various innovative approaches, from storytelling to mnemonics, to help students understand a topic. And more importantly, we have teachers from different parts of the country – Tier II cities, Tier III cities, and even villages. We have always questioned why knowledge sharing should only be done by professors of Stanford, Harvard or the IITs. With the influx of capital, Unacademy aims to empower more educators who come on the platform to create highly engaging courses that impact millions of students. And we have just started, there is a long way to go.”
Currently, the platform has more than 6,000 lessons spread over 500 courses.
Over the past couple of years, edutech has been keenly eyed by investors and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Globally, players like Udemy, Khan Academy, Coursera, and Udacity are quite popular.
In India, in December 2015, Khan Academy had partnered with Tata Trusts to create specialised, freely available online content tailor-made for India. In March 2016, adaptive learning platform Byju’s had raised $75 million from Sequoia Capital and Sofina in the largest fund raise by an edutech startup in India.
Research and Markets estimated that the MOOC sector would grow from $1.83 billion in 2015 to $8.50 billion by 2020. With the number of internet users in India estimated to reach 50 crore by 2017, edutech and MOOC platforms have tremendous room for growth.
While there are several players in the field, Gaurav believes that focusing on competition will not help them grow. Being a third-time entrepreneur himself, Gaurav adds that currently, with Unacademy, the focus is on education and ensuring that a problem is solved.
Sameer Brij Verma of Nexus, who is joining the board at Unacademy, says that they are strong believers in Unacademy's platform-centric approach to building an engaged community of educators and learners.
He adds that the team has done a great job in growing a community of committed educators nationally by providing them with easy to use, powerful tools to share their knowledge, grow their influence and monetise their knowledge.