[Funding alert] LEAD becomes the first edtech unicorn of 2022 after raising $100M

School edtech startup LEAD enters unicorn club with Series E funding of $100 million. It plans to focus on product and curriculum innovation, growth, and hiring top talent across functions.
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Edtech startup Lead, previously LEAD School, has raised Series E funding of $100 million at a valuation of $1.1 billion. The first edtech unicorn of 2022 is also the first school edtech player to enter the coveted club.

The round, led by WestBridge Capital. The round also saw participation GSV Ventures. This is one of their largest edtech investments to fuel the company’s plans. The company’s valuation has doubled in the last nine months on the back of strong growth in its operating and financial metrics. The current round is its fifth round of institutional funding since 2017.

LEAD will use the proceeds to achieve its vision of providing quality affordable education to 25 million+ students with an annual revenue run rate of $1 billion. The immediate focus will be on product and curriculum innovation, growth in its footprint, and hiring top talent across functions.

In the long term, the company plans to go deeper into the country to serve students in lower-fee schools and expand internationally in similar geographies.

LEAD Co-founders Sumeet Yashpal Mehta and Smita Deorah said, “A child spends six hours in school and only one hour in tuitions. Transforming schools, when done right, has massive potential to alter our country’s future. LEAD, with its integrated school system has broken new ground in this direction. We believe that in edtech, Saraswati precedes Lakshmi.

“Our intense focus has been on learning outcomes and life success of our students. And this has resulted in not only strong adoption and retention by schools but also interest from investors who value returns with real impact. We’re extremely thankful to our team of LEADers for staying true to our mission and helping take LEAD to all corners of the country.”

The new unicorn will remain focused on transforming core schooling in India with tech-integrated solutions. The company stated it has seen rapid adoption in the last four years and will enter academic year 2022-23 with 5,000 schools across 500+ cities in India and an annual revenue run rate of $80 million. It aims to serve close to two million students.

WestBridge Capital Managing Director Sandeep Singhal said, “We are extremely proud of LEAD’s success as the largest school edtech provider in India. Its growth last year, despite COVID disruptions, underlines its consumer-first approach and deep focus on learning outcomes. We are excited to double down our investment in LEAD, to support in its mission of transforming the education sector in India and touching lives of millions of students.”

Transforming K-12 education

Founded in 2012, LEAD has been transforming core schooling in India with its innovative full-stack school edtech solution. It has been making global-standard education accessible and affordable to students, especially in non-metro cities.

The curriculum in a LEAD-powered school is benchmarked with the best in the world, including schools in Singapore, Canada, and the US.

GSV Ventures Managing Partner Deborah Quazzo said, “LEAD has emerged as the gold standard for transforming K-12 education in India. The company acts as the Intel Inside for affordable schools and guarantees 70 percent mastery in all subjects and all grades for low/middle-income students and exceeds the guarantee.

“We, at GSV, believe that the mastery guarantee is a revolutionary offering in the K-12 education space and has the potential to be societally transformational for students. With this strong and unique value proposition and exceptional management team, LEAD is well on its path to become world’s largest and most impactful school edtech company.”

Edited by Teja Lele

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