The India edtech story has turned into an edge-of-the-seat thriller. It’s a sector that’s clearly beaten the pandemic odds, while other consumer internet businesses have struggled to stay afloat. National lockdowns that shuttered 1.3 million schools and 14,000 colleges have pushed students online. They’ve now become fair game for over 4,000 edtech startups in India.

The massive opportunity for growth hasn’t gone unnoticed. In the first quarter of the year, Indian edtechs raised over $700 million in venture funding, a 7X jump from the same period last year. Byju’s, India’s largest edtech company, led from the front with a $100 million investment $100 million investment Forbes Indian EdTech Billionaire’s Byju’s Becomes Decacorn After Funding Round From Mary Meeker Read more by US-based venture capital (VC) firm BOND Capital. It took Byju’s over the decacorn line, valuing it at $10.5 billion.

Bigger edtechs—Byju’s, Vedantu, and Unacademy—have also hoovered up a host of smaller, promising startups to build a comprehensive product portfolio. It’s given even smaller edtechs a rare upper hand, where they can demand a higher valuation than they would command otherwise. 

For instance, Whitehat Jr, an online coding platform for school-going children, had raised a modest $10 million in its last round in September 2019 at a valuation of $30 million. In less than a year, Byju’s made made The Times of India BYJU'S in talks to buy WhiteHat Jr in $300mn deal Read more a generous $300 million acquisition bid for Whitehat, whose registered user base grew to 20,000 in June 2020.

“Customer acquisition costs have fallen for everyone by at least a third. We don’t need money for survival but to gain velocity,” says Sahil Sheth, co-founder of an online tutoring platform Lido Learning. Lido caters to students from grades four to nine.

This breathless pace isn’t lost on investors, both local and international. Chief among them are Chinese VC firms and strategic edtech giants, who’ve firmly had their finger on India’s edtech pulse.

“The Chinese edtech market has become a prominent unicorn churner. There are companies there targeting public listings,” says an Indian investment official with an investment fund based out of Bengaluru. He wished not to be named because of the fund’s ongoing investments in multiple edtech companies.

Among others, he cites the example of Beijing-headquartered Yuanfudao. In April, the edtech company raised $1 billion from marquee investors such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and HillHouse Capital Group at a valuation of $7.8 billion in a Series G round. Similarly, other companies such as VIPKid, Zuoyebang, and Xueba have also achieved gilded unicorn status.

AUTHOR

Olina Banerji

Based in Delhi, Olina writes about mega-trends in urban mobility, education, skilling and the environment, with a focus on how institutions and innovations can help cities grow sustainably. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics, and has worked previously with India Today and global non-profit Ashoka.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.