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.


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

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

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.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? 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.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

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?

Please write to us at detailing the error or queries.