Edtech unicorn LEAD raises $20M in debt from venture debt firms, banks

The edtech firm plans to use the fresh funding to help finance its organic and inorganic growth ambitions.

Edtech unicorn LEAD raises $20M in debt from venture debt firms, banks

Wednesday January 11, 2023,

3 min Read

Mumbai-based edtech unicorn LEAD has raised about $20 million (Rs 160 crore) in debt from venture debt firms and banks, just a day after reducing its workforce of 2,000 people by around 1-2%.

The company’s latest funding round was via a mix of long-term capital from Stride Ventures and Alteria Capital , and working capital financing from banks such as Standard Chartered Bank, HDFC Bank, and ICICI Bank .

The edtech firm said it plans to use the fresh capital to help finance its organic and inorganic growth ambitions.

Last Friday, LEAD entered into an agreement with London-headquartered learning firm Pearson to acquire the latter’s local K-12 learning business in India. It had said that the acquisition is being funded through a combination of new fundraise and internal accruals, without giving out additional details.

“Traditionally, startups have had limited avenues for raising capital beyond equity. However, with our strong unit economics and clear path to profitability, we have been able to attract non-dilutive, traditional capital from India’s biggest banks and largest venture debt funds, which is value accretive to our shareholders,” Sumeet Mehta, Co-founder and CEO of LEAD, said in a statement. 

“LEAD is poised for 2X growth and this latest round of funding will help us fast-track our mission of providing high quality, integrated school edtech solutions to over 60,000 schools across India by 2026,” LEAD’s chief added.
Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah - LEAD
Edtech unicorn LEAD acquires Pearson’s local K-12 learning business

The development comes at a time when edtech unicorns are witnessing losses, laying off employees, slowing expansion plans, and trying to burn as little cash as possible amid a funding winter.

Last month, LEAD raised $4.2 million in a debt round from venture debt firm Alteria Capital. In January 2022, the edtech company raised $100 million in a Series E funding round led by WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures at a valuation of $1.1 billion

After joining the unicorn club in January last year, the company announced an employee stock ownership liquidation plan of nearly $3 million for its employees. But, in August, like many other companies in the edtech sector, LEAD laid off around 100 employees to cut costs.

LEAD’s standalone loss widened over three-fold to Rs 397.1 crore in the financial year 2021-22 from Rs 126.1 crore in 2020-21. Its revenue more than doubled to Rs 133.2 crore in FY22 from Rs 57.1 crore in FY21.

Founded in 2012 by Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah, LEAD’s integrated school system provides software, hardware curriculum, books, a school kit, and training sessions.

Edited by Kanishk Singh