Entrepreneur Vamsi Krishna on his entrepreneurial journey and launching edtech unicorn Vedantu

In this episode of the 100X Entrepreneur podcast, Vamsi Krishna, CEO and Co-founder of Vedantu, talks about venturing into online live classes in 2011 and the edtech unicorn’s scaling-up journey.
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Digital disruption in the edtech sector was already underway. However, it received a huge boost amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With the growing demand for online education services, several players saw increased investor interest, and many entered the coveted billion-dollar unicorn club.

Vedantu, the Bengaluru-based live online tutoring platform, is one such startup. 

Vedantu became India’s fifth edtech unicorn after raising $100 million in its Series E round led by ABC World Asia, a Singapore-based impact investing fund, and existing investors — Coatue, Tiger Global, GGV Capital, and WestBridge, among others.

Vamsi Krishna, CEO and Co-founder of Vedantu [Image Credit: 100X Entrepreneur Podcast]

Vamsi Krishna, CEO and Co-founder, Vedantu, says his entrepreneurial journey began back in 2006 with Lakshya, a brick and mortar offline venture, in the education space.

While edtech services and live interactive classes are talks of the town today, Vedantu began disrupting the segment back in 2011. 

“The thought of Vedantu and the challenges around Lakshya came in 2010-11 when we scaled our offline venture. While scaling, we discovered that scaling an offline centre isn’t easy. It has its own set of challenges, a lot of issues around maintaining uniform quality across multiple locations, and so on,” he says.

Launching Vedantu

The team realised that by leveraging technology, problems related to the sector could be solved. Vamsi wanted to build a solution that had the same components as Lakshya but in an online and scalable manner, leading to the launch of Vedantu.

“Lakshya was very successful in terms of learning outcomes and results. We just wanted to create an online scalable version of the same thing. So one of the big design choices we took in Vedantu was we were the first company in India to start with live interactive classes, which today is mainstream,” he claims.

Vamsi reveals Vedantu always grew almost two and a half times annually, and now, COVID-19 accelerated the growth. The edtech startup claims to have grown by 4X amidst the pandemic. 

Speaking about the factors that led to its growth, Vamsi says the first factor would be the value proposition. 

“In India, in Tier II and III cities, even if you’re ready to pay money, you might not get access to a good quality teacher. Here, you had the best of the teachers from the country teaching you at a price point, which is lower than the offline price point. So, the value proposition itself was very strong,” he says. 

He continues, “Traditionally, we always built and believed in this concept and built a lot of organic funnels of acquisitions. We had put a lot of solutions from books, test all that on our website, and made it SEO optimised. So that used to get a lot of traffic to us organically. In 2017-18, we started with our YouTube channel.”

Vamsi reveals during the last academic year, Vedantu had around two lakh paid students, a 4X growth from 48,000 students the previous year. 

This year, too, the edtech unicorn is looking at 2 to 2.5X growth in its paid students, almost similar to its free students.

In this episode of the 100X Entrepreneur podcast, Vamsi Krishna, CEO and Co-founder of Vedantu, talks about venturing into online live classes in 2011 and the edtech unicorn’s scaling-up journey.

To know more, listen to the podcast here

Notes:

02:29: Co-founding and running Lakshya Institute for over eight years

05:28: Pivoting from offline to online and starting Vedantu

08:50: Before scaling, first validate if the solution works

14:47: Revenue milestones

18:49: Conscious considerations while building new features

22:41: Three verticals at Vedantu

24:10: Focusing on organic versus paid acquisition

26:22: Importance of referrals in the edtech sector

30:19: Advice for first-time entrepreneurs. 

Edited by Suman Singh