India’s Byju’s raises $150 million to expand globally

Byju’s, India’s most valuable edtech startup, has received $150 million as it races to expand the reach of its learning app in the country and some international markets.

The unnamed financing round was led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and included participation from Owl Ventures, a leading investor in education tech startups. This is Owl Venture’s first investment in an Indian startup. A person familiar with the matter said the new round valued Byju’s at $5.75 billion, up from nearly $4 billion last year.

The startup, which has raised about $925 million to date, said it would use the fresh capital to aggressively explore and expand in international markets. The startup has previously said it plans to enter the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

It acquired Osmo, a U.S.-based learning startup that is popular among kids aged between five and 12, for $120 million early this year. Osmo recently unveiled a new product to serve the pre-schoolers’ market.

Byju’s helps all school-going children understand complex subjects through its app where tutors use real-life objects such as pizza and cake. It also prepares students who are pursuing undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Over the years, Byju’s has invested in tweaking the English accents in its app and adapted to different education systems. It has amassed more than 35 million registered users, about 2.4 million of which are paid customers.

“Investment from prominent sovereign and pension funds validates our strong business fundamentals. Indian ed-tech firms attracting interest from eminent investors demonstrates that India is pioneering the digital learning space globally,” Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju’s, said in a statement.

In India, Byju’s competes with a handful of players, including Bangalore-based Unacademy, which is aimed at students who are preparing for graduation-level courses. It raised $50 million last month.

India has the largest population in the world in the age bracket of five to 24 years. A report by KPMG and Google in 2017 estimated that the country’s online education market would grow to $1.96 billion of sales by 2021.

Byju’s generated around $205 million in revenue in the fiscal year that ended in March. It plans to increase that figure to more than $430 million this year. Raveendran has stated that the startup intends to go public in the next two to three years.