How A Small Indian Startup Became A Billion Dollar Company
This is about the man who made education fun and easy. Something which started as a small tuition turned into a billion dollar company. The man who made this possible is Byju Raveendran. He started his entrepreneurship journey way before the whole startup scene went mainstream. Right now, Byju’s is at $15 billion valuation and planning to raise $700 million.
Byju Raveendran was born into a family of teachers. His mother teaches physics while his father teaches math, both working in a medium-sized private school in Kerala, off of the western coast of India. Raised in Azhikode, a small, humble town of no more than 25,000 people, Byju lived a village life shared by 700M+ people across India.
One night, while tutoring his friends for their entrance exam to an MBA program, Byju took the exam just for fun to see what he could score.100th percentile on his first attempt. Thinking it was a fluke, he attempted once again. Another 100th percentile score.
A score which is every student’s dream, Byju turned down India’s finest post graduate programs known for it’s exceedingly small acceptance rates. So, it was just by chance, that he entered the world of small startup, but teaching was a choice he made. Slowly and steadily, through word of mouth the number of students grew.
He believed in teaching concepts, not problems. Being able to conceptualize and visualize the problems became his brand. They grew from Bangalore to 9 cities. He used to travel to 9 cities in a week to teach and this continued till 2009.
Hopping between 9 cities, Byju soon started using video format for CAT and other similar entrance exams. But, it was in 2011 that he formed the company with the help of some of his students who had graduated from IIMs.
They started creating core learning products, which are today a part of the app-based format. Byju tells us that it took 4 years to create these products. In fact, while creating products for students from standard 4 to standard 12, he tried to make it effective as well as interesting.
Byju stepped into the online teaching world at a perfect timing. There weren’t many big companies to compete with at that time. The quick smartphone penetration has enabled easy access for a mobile-first country like ours. They are teaching students not only in metropolitan cities but in the most remote villages of India too. Byju himself comes from a small village and thus is well aware of the accessibility issues that come with it.
Students always are using phones to stream videos or play games. But with his app, they were learning in an interactive and fun way. This was what he took major advantage of. He, in a way, revolutionized the teaching industry.
Today, the company is at $15 billion valuation. As of September 2020, it had 70 million students on the platform of which 4.5 million were paid subscribers.
It took him 15 years but he changed the way we see education. He showed us that education doesn’t always have to be about cramming stuff. It can be made fun and interactive. It can be conceptualized so that students actually remember the concept and don’t forget the next day the exam gets over.
Let’s see what else he has to offer in the coming years.