The Indian school segment is a huge market with 300 million school-going children as compared to the annual count of 1,70,000 CAT candidates
By Srinath Srinivasan
India’s latest Unicorn and ed-tech giant Byju’s has been making news raising funds from international investors and a strategic acquisition of Osmo, a US-based Augmented Reality game maker. The company is targeting the untapped Indian school segment and the investments and acquisition is aimed at achieving leadership in the segment. The startup is also planning to expand into international markets. Byju’s uses a subscription-based business model and has seen 100% revenue growth for the last two years, with revenue standing at Rs540 crore. It aims to triple its growth rate this year.
“We started out training Common Aptitude Test (CAT) students. What we did was provide techniques that they didn’t learn in school, which would eventually help them acquire more such techniques and become a self-learner. The scope of the exam involves revisiting some of the math and logical concepts that they learnt in school,” said Mrinal Mohit, chief operating officer, Byju’s. “Now, if we can induce this behavioural change in school kids right when they are in school, they will come out successful in any test in future and become a self-learner much earlier in life. To keep them interested in our content, we innovate on content and technology fronts.” According to the team at Byju’s, the Indian school segment is a huge market with 300 million school-going children as compared to the annual count of 170,000 students sitting for CAT.
Byju’s has ramped up a huge workforce to cater to this market and has some tens of thousands of multimedia content in the making. Mohit is confident that nothing beats great content and that gives Byju’s the edge over anyone else. A layer of technology over this helps them track valuable insights that schools and colleges may miss out. Mohit says that instead of looking at it as an app, a user must look at it as a digital platform. The platform’s machine learning algorithm in the backend is used not just to personalise the learning journey but to personalise the content. The predictive algorithms give the product and content teams very valuable insights so that they can design content/product upon realising the presence of white spaces in any given piece of content and fill it up readily. Operating in the school segment gives Byju’s a great opportunity to incorporate latest in media innovation like 3-D animation, motion graphics and visual effects techiques. The team looks to incorporate Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) as and when the distribution channels are ready to take up such data heavy content.
Mohit emphasises on three things for a successful ed-tech business—data, technology and a library of content. With the advent of Jio, the accessibility to cheap data has gone up and Byju’s boasts of a strong technology platform enabled by its in-house tech teams. Mohit says that creating professional mulitmedia library of content at scale is what it has always focused on as an ed-tech company and it is also the most expensive part.However, it faces actual roadblock from the lack of payment options for its customers, especially in rural areas. Explaining how it affects his business, Mohit says, “We’ve seen many of our customers having debit cards but they still prefer to use cash, especially in rural areas. We spend quite a lot of time in making this process quicker because cash is not readily available with everyone. With government leveraging United Payments Interface even in the remotest parts of the country, I guess our customers will have more methods of payment in the coming years. We look forward to it too.”