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Zuckerberg-backed edtech giant Byju's ropes in $30M to go international

Binjal Shah
29th Mar 2017
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Byju’s, the company that runs one of India’s most popular edtech apps, has attracted a $30 million investment from Brussels-based family-run investment holding company Verlinvest. The newly garnered capital will bolster Byju's' international expansion and acquisition agenda.

Byju's Founder Byju Raveendran.

Commenting on this investment, Frederic de Mevius, Chairman of the Board, Verlinvest, said, “We are excited to join hands with Byju Raveendran on his inspiring journey to bring effective learning online. Verlinvest prides itself on being a daring investor in the consumer world and enabling entrepreneurs through inspiring journeys. Byju fits well within this vision.”

Founded in 2011, Byju's is a learning app that offers adaptive, engaging, and effective learning programmes for students in classes 4-12 (K-12) for everything from test prep classes to competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE, and GMAT. The app is used by eight million students, and has close to 400,000 paid annual subscriptions till date. Their latest upgrade has facilitated personalised learning journeys, and provides access to quality content and top teachers for students across classes 4-12.

Nicholas Cator, Executive Director, Verlinvest, added, “We are very happy to partner with the talented team at Byju’s to expand in India and abroad. A 1:1 learning experience is a dream ratio. We have seen a lot of edtech companies, but Byju's offers personalised learning to an extent that we haven’t seen in any product across the globe. We look forward to supporting the management team to expand to new markets and to further build the brand.”

Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO of Byju's, said, “Our partnership with Verlinvest will further boost our aspiration to change the way students learn across the globe. In the last 18 months, we have witnessed exponential growth in India. While these numbers are very exciting, there is a long way to go before we can call it a revolution. The fact that we are still reaching less than 1 percent of the student population shows the immense potential here and the impact we can create. In fact, our teams are continuously working towards creating learning products that will enable our efforts to make learning more accessible, engaging, and personalised for students.”

The company claims to have seen an average time of 40 minutes being spent by a student on the app every day, from over 1,700 cities and towns, with annual renewal rates as high as 90 percent.

Verlinvest, meanwhile, is a 1995-born company that now operates in New York and Singapore as well, apart from its home ground of Brussels. It currently manages over €1.5 billion. Verlinvest specialises in growth capital, with the objective of diversifying its investors’ holdings for the long term by making private investments in branded consumer companies in the F&B, retail and hospitality, consumer digital, and education segments. Its portfolio companies include Vitacoco, Sula Wines, Future Group, Lazada, XSEED, and Global Fashion Group.

This round comes after Byju's multiple fundraises in the year of 2016, which otherwise saw a sharp decline in funding overall. After a heavy round of $75 million from Sequoia Capital and Sofina, they recently closed a Series D round in September 2016, with $50 million pumped into their ops by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative, Sequoia Capital, Sofina, Lightspeed Ventures, and TIL, and another $15 million round closed in December 2016, infused by IFC Venture Group. Recently, the app acquired Bengaluru-based Vidyartha, another data-driven platform in the same space, offering customised learning programmes to students.

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