How LEAD is on a mission to revolutionise edtech after achieving the unicorn status

In a conversation with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, powered by HSBC, Smita Deorah, Co-founder, LEAD, spoke about the company attaining the unicorn status recently, its fund utilisation plans, and the road ahead.
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Mumbai-based edtech player Lead joined the unicorn club in January 2022 after raising $100 million in a funding round led by GSV Ventures and WestBridge Capital. The financing round doubled LEAD’s valuation to $1.1 billion in less than a year.

Speaking about attaining the unicorn status, Smita Deorah, Co-founder, LEAD, says, in the K-12 segment, the focus has largely been on test-prep and tuitions.

“If India has to reach its true potential, schools have to significantly transform,” she says. The unicorn status for LEAD is a big investment in the direction of improving schools in the country.

Commenting on the fund utilisation plans, she mentioned that till date, LEAD has invested a lot of energy in building integrated solutions and providing exceptional products to schools for better student learning and for teachers to teach efficiently.

LEAD co-founders: Smita Deorah and Sumeet Mehta

“This has meant innovative curriculum and international benchmark education for our students. It has also meant a technology platform where teachers are able to teach very efficiently,” she says.

She adds the company plans on investing in building products which would mean curriculum innovation and technology tools for convenience. Apart from that, the company will also be investing in building awareness around the brand in order to reach out deeper into India.

“In the last four years, we have gone from 0 to 500 cities and almost 1,600 pin codes, and we want to be able to get to many more,” she says. Additionally, the company is also looking at inorganic opportunities to fuel growth.

Smitha explains that currently, the edtech space is ripe for disruption. In the last few years, a lot of innovation has happened in the space of supplementary learning and test-prep.

“School space has not seen much disruption yet. We also work with 5,000 schools in a universe of half million private schools in the country,” she says.

LEAD is currently working on bringing core skills learning into the school space such as coding, language skills, etc.

In terms of key metrics, she mentions that their biggest north star metric has always been student outcomes. “We have over the last four years consistently delivered upwards of 70 percent of subject mastery,” she says. Other business and commercial metrics that the company tracks are reach, school retention, etc.

“We will be starting the academic year with 5,000 schools and close to 2 million students. We want to get to 60,000 schools and 25 million students in the next four years,” says Smita.

Lastly, she says that in terms of revenue target, LEAD is at $80 million annualised revenue run rate and its goal is to reach $1 billion in the next four years.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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