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Byju’s

Launched initially as a network of coaching centres in 2011, Byju’s has, in less than a decade, become the hottest real estate in the $1.96-billion Indian edtech market. It’s the newest member of India’s unicorn club and is valued at $3.6 billion as of 2018.

This narrative is our complete coverage about the company.

1

By partnering with lending companies like Capital Float and Bajaj Finserv, Byju’s was able to break through the affordability barrier. But sales agents with aggressive targets are pushing multi-year subscriptions and ever-larger consumer loans on to unsuspecting customers

“Come fall in love with learning,” said the photo of a cherubic kid wearing oversized glasses on the receipt the parent waved at the camera. But there’s little love in words she and three other parents used in the video—a complaint to the Chennai Cyber Crime Department.

“I did not know they were signing me up for a 12-month loan for Rs 50,500 ($729) from some company called Capital Float,” she said.

“They took our biometrics saying it was for EMIs,” said another.

2

India’s edtech space is crowded. Companies are jostling for screen time and user retention. Byju’s, the largest one, is ahead by miles. Their “fun-learning” videos and pedagogy have captured the market’s attention. But has the Byju’s magic actually worked?

Byju Raveendran positions a worksheet in front of a propped-up tablet. Perched on top of the gadget is a small, red plastic “reader” resembling a camera. Almost immediately, the reader captures the image of the worksheet and replicates it on the tab’s screen. Every tick mark or cross made on paper is recorded digitally and the correct answers revealed in a friendly, cartoonish voice.

This is Osmo at work, a physical-to-digital educational games platform, and the newest member of edtech giant Byju’s carousel of “fun-learning” tools.

3

The story of a mess called Pearson Education, TutorVista and Edurite. Some part of which is now Byju’s problem and maybe, just maybe, a distant opportunity

The thing about information, information that results from a hyped, successful outcome is that it sticks in your mind. Like a good story, it doesn’t age. In the world of hagiographic corporate history, the kind practised in India fairly often, a shred of information, repeated, again and again, becomes a fact. And as time goes by, that distant, misplaced fact gets passed around as legend. Needless to say, legends of successful exits make for good stories.

This is not that story.

4

Using SD cards, Byju's may have cleverly sidestepped current Indian market constraints. But the very same SD cards may weigh it down as India 'leap frogs' to 24x7 broadband

This is a continuation of our piece on Byju’s which appeared last week. If you haven’t read it already, you must.

In the last piece, you understood how Byju’s has been chasing ‘everything exponential’. Both in terms of raising capital and changing almost every year, as to what the company does. A critical shift happened two years ago, in August 2015. Byju’s moved all of its courses, preparatory material for competitive exams, K12 courses like the 11 and 12 grade; everything to the Byju’s Learning App.

5

Education technology is fine as far as classification is concerned, but what exactly is Byju’s getting at? How far along is it? Will the company get there?

Byju Raveendran has just too much energy. Like, shake your legs constantly and fidgeting with stuff on the table; a pen, an iPad, sort of energy. Also, he is quite the looker. Tall, about six feet, dark, pumped out chest, body-hugging black tee and blue jeans. It adds to his whole persona that Byju has cut his teeth in the art of performing; for years, he has been a sought after teacher and taught mathematics to a crowd of thousands. Tens of thousand. So, fairly apt then, that right now, at the corporate office of Byju’s at IBC Knowledge Park in Bengaluru, inside a large conference room, seated at the head of a long conference table; the last relic of corporate productivity, Byju is turning on the charm.

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