Startups and **** Series
Whether it’s the Indian team dawning the jersey to pull off a GABA or onboarding Shahrukh khan as the brand ambassador, Byju’s is more than just an Ed-tech giant, it’s an industry dragon. I chose my words meticulously when I say dragon, Byju’s since its inception has been a capital raising machine having raised a total of $2.3B in funding over 17 rounds acquiring 4 companies and aggregating 52 lakh paying subscribers.
Here in this article, I will try to undo Byju’s to explain what makes Byju’s a common noun and why this dragon is here to stay.
BYJU’S is India’s largest ed-tech company and the creator of India’s most loved school learning app which offers highly adaptive, engaging and effective learning programs for students in the K-12 segment and competitive exams like JEE, NEET and UPSC-CSE.
BYJU’S launched its flagship product, BYJU’S — The Learning App, for classes 4–12 in 2015. Today, the app has over 7.5 crores registered students and 52 lakh annual paid subscriptions. With an average time of 71 minutes being spent by a student on the app every day from 1700+ cities, the app is creating a whole new way of learning through visual lessons. Disney BYJU’S Early Learn App was launched in June 2019, a special offering from BYJU’S for students in classes 1–3 featuring Disney’s timeliness characters. In early 2019, BYJU’S acquired Osmo, a Palo Alto-based maker of educational games to transform the whole offline into the online learning experience. BYJU’S also acquired White Hat Jr in 2020, a Mumbai-based programming start-up focused on empowering children with coding skills [Smart acquisition but personally I feel the whole whitehat thing is stupid]
Market and Background
India has 250M students in the K-12 segment and this is expected to touch 335M by 2022 making it the largest K-12 market in the world. Of this, 70M students in India opt for private coaching, commonly known as tuitions and the size of the private coaching market in K-12 in India is USD 15B while the overall private coaching segment is in excess of USD 50B. The pandemic has forced the stubborn participants of the education ecosystem to adopt tech and go online, Which is believed to have accelerated the shift to online by at least 5 years.
BYJU’s was started as a standard coaching class for CAT targeting individuals in the 21–25 age group. The founder Byju Raveendran started from a small town in Kerala and went on to take the CAT. After scoring a 100 percentile, Raveendran started teaching from his friend’s terraces and slowly graduated to taking classes in large auditoriums via V-SAT. Seeing the potential in CAT classes, he soon progressed to taking sessions in stadiums. People were getting drawn to his teaching style and the idea of converting it into a scalable business occurred to one of his students Mrinal who currently servers as the COO, but the real question was how and what was the price the consumers are willing to pay, this paved the way for video first content and soon Byju’s student base grew 20 fold.
“I believe when you take sessions in auditoriums, you’re creating a kind of fan following. You can’t do a math class in a stadium. It has to be a math performance”
Byju’s was an incredibly energetic salesman, and let’s keep that in mind because young companies are images of their founder. When you teach math in a stadium you are no longer a maths teacher you are a maths performer and you there are generating a following, This showmanship and Byju’s incredible ability to make learning engaging paved the way to the giant we see today.
Seeing an opportunity in the K-12 segment, BYJU’s gradually pivoted to online and offline video learning and the bet has paid off unimaginable dividends, K-12 education is a huge market and controlled not by the users but the parents/guardians who want the best for the child, on the flip side it is an incredibly difficult market to scale. The K-12 market is price-insensitive and has often been controlled by private tuitions and coaching centres, the idea of a digital-first approach was something the Indian parent was not ready for. yet.
Byju’s operates primarily on a subscription model, contrary to popular belief of freemium. It gives a 15 day free trails post in which the content is paid and there is no segment free for a lifetime, to give you an analogy zoom is an example of freemium where the basic features are free and you only pay to upgrade on them.
- Subscription [3.5mn paid users]
- Tablet [Akin to the Akash tablets which were the talk of the town a decade back]
- Offline Courses
Byju’s spends around 50% of its revenue on sales and marketing. In Fy 17–18 let’s round the expenditure on S&M to 250cr and the revenue to 500 cr adding 450k paid users, which puts the customer acquisition cost [CAC] at 5.5k rs.
Byju’s sells courses for around 25–30k which each customer spends, so as we see the unit economics is pretty solid, the major costs are content and delivery and Byju’s covers both of them in the first purchase.
Earlier I have mentioned how big is the education market is, now put it into perspective if out of 250mn students Byju’s can sell themselves to 3.5 mn, what are the numbers looking like!. Even if there is one purchase Byju’s is already profitable on the unit level.
Even if there is churn on recurring customers, the market is so large that there are always new ones. The natural churn from students graduating paves way for more customers and there is little feedback in the market memory about the product. also here the user is the child but the customer is the parent, which combined gives Byju’s the leverage to improve or get away with a subpar product without affecting its revenue.
Sources: entrackr.com, fintrackr, crunchbase, A junior VC blog, Byju’s website.