Unravelling the story of BYJU’s and its founder Byju Raveendran
BYJU is an edu-tech start-up in India which calls itself a learning app. It is a $204 million dollar company started and run by Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd and is considered one of the best-funded education start-up in India. It is co-funded by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Lightspeed India Partners Advisors, Aarin Capital, Sofina SA, Sequoia Capital India Advisors, International Finance Corporations (IFC), Brussels-based family office Verlinvest SA and Times Internet Ltd. The story of BYJU’s starts from a classroom that reaches millions.
While the BYJUs app is quite popular, we know very less of the man who founded it and started the entrepreneurship journey before the start-up scene went main-stream. Byju Raveendran is the man we are talking about here. We will look at the journey of Raveendran who didn’t just dream big but also made it in the end.
Byju Raveendran: The man who wrote the story of BYJU’s app
Byju Raveendran during two months break from his overseas job in 2003 decided to help some of his friends appearing for CAT in Bangalore. He took the exam and helped in an informal way by scoring 100 percentile. He started teaching some of the other friends and appeared in examination yet again without any preparation in 2005. He scored 100 % marks again and appeared in IIM- A, B, C interviews, clearing them all. He saw potential in teaching students how to crack CAT and this led to the decision of not pursuing an MBA. He started teaching more students and slowly more than 1000 students were taking class in his auditorium in 2007. The Story of Byju’s app started here as classes grew from word of mouth and it reached to 9 cities other than Bangalore. Raveendran had to travel 9 cities in a week to address classes which continued till 2009.
Journey from Offline and Online
Hopping between 9 cities was difficult; he started using video format for CAT and other similar entrance examinations. It was in 2011 that he formed the company and with the help of his students who graduated from IIMs. They started core learning products in 2011 which are a part of the app now. It took them 4 years to create these products. These products included effective and interesting products for students from standard 4 to standard 12.
The vision was to create interesting products in the form of videos which is effective and could be liked by students. They wanted to create core learning products which could make the fundamentals clear in those crucial years when students just start learning as it has long term impact. The teaching was more about how the students should learn rather than what should be learnt.
Byju’s initially centred around the test-preparation which were low-key than the high-production-value videos and content. These videos are produced for the students from Kindergarten to 12th segment where more than 500 members in the teamwork in research and development.
According to the research by consulting firm Redseer Consulting, there are about 20 million students between Standard 6th to Standard 12th who have access to the Internet and take private coaching class. While writing the story of Byju’s, Raveendran knew that the market size which accounts to about $2.5 billion and he needs to explore it. It was in August 2015, after 4 years of developments when the founder launched the BYJU’s The Learning App.
BYJU’s has a different structure than the traditional Indian education system. The founder says that the product has been made with a strong belief that the students will learn on their own rather than relying on spoon-feeding.
What made the story of Byju’s a big hit
Byju’s has made good progress in adopting and handling the business to consumer (B2C) market. It is very tricky to convince the parents that an app is a suitable substitute for classroom or home coaching. A belief was to be created so that parent could trust a company for the education of their child.
The company claims that the big part of its vision involves focus on content and designing personalized learning which is called “knowledge graph”. This helps the app understand the concept which the student needs to more practice at then app adjusts learning plans accordingly.
The company is thinking of expanding the venture into other countries. They will have to change the layers including style, teachers and accent to target foreign visitors on their app. It is speculated that looking at the current bandwidth, the company will go global in next 1.5 to 2 years. Currently, about 15% of the total students come from outside India.
BYJU’s business model revolves around the paid subscriptions by the users. The company was able to generate revenues of about 260 crores in 2017 which doubled in the following year. Eyes are set on a target of 1400 crore for 2019 financial year.
BUJU’s have acquired the Indian cricket team jersey rights in July 2019. We will very soon see cricketers like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and others wearing a jersey with BYJU’s name over it. Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan is the brand ambassador for this edu-teach startup.
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