It has been two years since Alakh Pandey—who built a cult following by teaching students online for free before co-founding edtech Physics Wallah Pvt. Ltd, or PW—stepped into a (virtual) classroom to teach.
That’s because the 31-year-old star tutor shifted his focus to the edtech’s management on his co-founder Prateek Maheshwari’s insistence. “He said, ‘till the time you’re teaching, you will not be able to scale.’ We would still be doing just NEET-JEE NEET-JEE The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Main NEET is an all-India competitive exam for admission into medical colleges. JEE is an all-India entrance exam for entry to the prestigious IIT engineering colleges in India. coaching had I continued. I feel like teaching. Maybe, once things stabilise,” Pandey’s voice trailed off during one-and-a-half-hour-long Zoom interaction.
The instability that Pandey referred to is partly of his own making. PW embarked on an unbridled expansion spree spree The Ken Physics Wallah’s bootstrapped challenge to Unacademy’s test-prep prowess Read more after raising an impressive Series A round in June 2022. Venture-capital firms Westbridge Capital and GSV Ventures led the US$100-million round catapulting the edtech into the unicorn club.
Known for offering end-to-end preparation courses for medical and engineering entrance exams at affordable prices, PW has now dipped its toes into various test-prep segments—from defence to banking to civil services. It’s going even beyond this market with short-term skilling courses and tie-ups with schools under its Vidyapeeth School Centre programme. Besides, of course, opening offline centres across the country and abroad.
A series of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) is propelling PW’s hyper-growth. Over the past year, it has acquired test-prep platforms such as Preponline and NCERT-book publisher Altis Vortex (AV Publication). It has formed a joint venture with Utkarsh Classes & Edutech Pvt. Ltd, one of the leading edtechs in the civil-services-and-government-exam-preparation market.
PW’s pace has been rather hurried, Pandey and Maheshwari admitted that much while speaking to The Ken. At a time when other edtechs are laying people off, PW is hiring. Aggressively. “We’ve hired around 1,000 people in [the last] three months,” said Pandey who did most of the talking during the interview. The company has close to 8,000 employees.
“The NEET-JEE division is more or less established, we have good leaders to handle that.