The Man behind India's Most Valued Startup

The Man behind India's Most Valued Startup
Image credit: BYJU'S

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Byju Raveendran, CEO and Founder, BYJU'S

Since inception, BYJU’S goal has been to make quality education accessible and to ensure students from across the country and eventually the globe have access to the best learning content and teachers. In fact, this was one of the main reasons for BYJU’S to shift from being an offline test prep class to an online learning app. “We understood early on that the only way to ensure that everyone has access to our learning programs and scale our offerings was with the help of technology. In fact, we brought technology in education when no one else was doing this,” shares Byju Raveendran, CEO and Founder, BYJU'S.

At BYJU’S, there is a continuous effort to make learning accessible, personalised, and engaging for students across the country. “We understood that while one student may be learning a concept for the first time, another might just be revising a concept before an exam. Students on our platform learn through a combination of asynchronous, synchronous, self-paced and scheduled learning. Through the combination of teachers, video, and interactive games, we can deliver personalised learning, feedback, and assessments for all students,” adds Byju. The adaptive learning platform uses new-age technology and data science to a detailed and dynamic learning profile for every single student. This profile forms the backbone of their highly personalised recommendation system. This recommendation system has the intelligence to figure out what a student is struggling with, actively intervene and help fix their misconceptions.

At BYJU’S, for lower grades, they try to make concepts fun by creating games and interactive quizzes. For higher grades, they deep-dive into micro-concept levels and focus on conceptual clarity. Another aspect that boosts their asynchronous learning format is “gamification.” They use game design principles to craft unique and individual learning journeys for students. Through elements such as leaderboards, badges, etc, and by incorporating elements of competition and collaboration, they are able to keep students engaged on the platform.

Byju feels the education sector is far from being saturated. There are a lot of opportunities for other players to work on. What matters most is the focus on “value creation”. Once a company can create value in the lives of its end users, it is set for success. This scenario has created even more opportunities for edtech players in the country and there are many areas where they can innovate and solve the innate learning challenges of our society. When asked about newer opportunity areas for entrepreneurs in edtech space Byju advises, “Firstly, I think entrepreneurs can work on how to make tech-enabled teaching more efficient and easy for teachers. Most teachers are not digitally empowered and struggle to teach seamlessly and integrate technology. Secondly, more institutions are opening up to the idea of implementing a blended form of learning that uses the best of both offline and online learning aids. This opens up an opportunity to create something new in this space. Thirdly, reskilling and upskilling are the needs of the hour. With India having such a young and aspirational population, they need to be skilled efficiently to meet the demand for the same around the world. Fourthly, there is an opportunity to create something in the co-circular space. Entrepreneurs can figure how to teach co-curricular skills online. As we see an increase in the number of startups in the country, we will notice that startups who provide specific and niche services or products will have many opportunities to thrive, and startups that are offering similar services or products will consolidate.”

India is still the largest market and biggest focal point for BYJU’S. Going forward, they are trying to penetrate deeper into the regional market, beyond metro and tier-one cities, with learning programs in regional languages. Having said that, global expansion is also on the cards and is in line with their vision to revolutionize learning.

The recent acquisitions whether it was Osmo or WhiteHatJr have also given them a headstart when it comes to the U.S. market and has given us a clear opportunity to accelerate international expansion plans. Sharing his thoughts Byju says, “The focus of all our acquisitions and collaborations has always been to strengthen our offerings and create holistic learning experiences on a single platform. The one question we ask ourselves is if it will be useful to students and if it will be used by students. This is the most fundamental part of our evaluation process. Our core model has continued to grow at 100% year after year. We don't get attached to the belief that we can do everything on our own and hence we look at some complementary models.”

Even the AESL acquisition allowed them to enter the test prep segment in a big way. Together they will create a hybrid format so that students get an option of learning from the star features online and also coming to the nearby location for the rigor and intensity which is required for test prep. Talking about the same Byju says, “If you look at our business model, it's very complementary in terms of adding new formats, because we had our expertise in a synchronous format, self-learning format. We have added a strong or synchronous format, which is scaling internationally. We recently launched BYJU’S Future School to offer live one-on-one classes, with teachers in India to students in developed English-speaking markets. There are 11,000 plus women teachers delivering these live one on one sessions, with more than 40,000 sessions delivered daily. It's creating a big impact even on that job creation side. We are tapping into this high-quality graduate pool and giving them flexibility and convenience of teaching from home, which is scaling very nicely.”

2020 was a significant year for edtech and opened up new opportunities for various players to innovate and showcase the credibility of online learning. This resulted in a massive mindset shift amongst parents and teachers and made online learning an integral part of mainstream education. On foreseeing the future of the industry, Byju concludes, “We do not see education shifting either 100% online or offline. We will witness a rise of blended format or phygital learning, where students will have the flexibility to choose what concepts they want to learn and the formats in which they learn these concepts.”

Factsheet

  • Year of inception: 2015, BYJU’S The Learning App was launched
  • No. of paid users: 6.5 million
  • Registered student base: 100 million
  • Renewal rate: 86%
  • Most popular course: Math and Science (K-12)
  • Revenue for FY 2020-21: 2800 last FY 19-20

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