Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg-backed e-learning startup Byju’s is planning to launch its learning programmes in regional languages this year to penetrate deeper into the regional market beyond metro and tier one cities and enhance user adoption.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg-backed e-learning startup Byju’s that has put the fun in learning is the world’s most valued edtech startup and first from India in online education. It is also among the rare innovation stories from India that didn’t have similar businesses existing outside India to seek ‘inspiration’ from before starting. Around $3.6 billion worth Byju’s is now eyeing two growth areas – international and regional expansion for which the company has done acquisition and looking to deploy solutions in 2019. Its Founder and CEO Byju Raveendran puts in perspective the roadmap for both and why such a valuation doesn’t change things much for him.
How is product development going on for international markets?
We are in the process of building a product for international markets for which we are working with some highly popular YouTube teachers who are experts in their respective domains. We are getting them to India to record and help us with product development too. This will enable our students in international markets to relate to them instantly.
We have the required talent and capabilities which can create a product for students across the globe. Our team of over 1,000 people across media, content and technology innovate continuously to create a great product. We even have an in-house band that creates original music and soundtrack for each and every video. So, the content and media team is working on developing content for other markets too.
Is there are a difference in terms of content style, format or learning concepts for Indian and international programmes?
While content style and formats may differ, education – conceptually – remains the same across the world. Whether it is fractions or thermodynamics, students across the world are learning the same concepts and principles. We are innovating the “what”, “how” and “why” of their learning. Currently, there are no products like Byju’s which can reach out to a large number of students and create great engagement at the same time.
How does your recent acquisition of Osmo fit into the global picture?
We are launching our K-3 product across the globe and our initial focus is going to be on creating awareness about the benefits of a product. Osmo’s acquisition is also towards offering a unique, customized, engaging and fun learning solution for younger kids. The market opportunity is huge.
What we are trying to create here is a blended learning experience. Our focus here is the computer vision, an interdisciplinary scientific field in which computers are trained to extract, analyse and understand digital images or videos, with the intent of replicating what humans can do. The technology Osmo brings to the table can detect shapes, numbers, letters and even images of characters and objects in relatively real-time. Going forward it this capability that will grow. Imagine a biology classroom where students get step-by-step instructions on how to dissect a frog through software that is watching and correcting their move.
What about regional expansion, particularly with products in non-English languages?
Today, almost 75% of our users come from outside the top 10 cities. It is encouraging to see increased adoption and high engagement from more than 1,700+ towns and cities in the country. We launched our product in Hindi recently to create awareness about tech-driven learning in deeper parts of India. We are also working on creating learning programs in other regional languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam etc., and we plan to roll them out this year itself.
Byju’s was valued at around $3.6 billion in the December 2018 fundraising. Does that convince you?
Valuation doesn’t change much for us where our responsibilities are concerned. The real fun here is not in creating a billion dollar company but in creating a billion learners. The main idea behind starting Byju’s was to make learning accessible, effective, engaging and personalized for everyone. In our system learning happens because of a fear of exams, and not the love for learning.
Byju’s is also among the fastest Indian startups to reach unicorn status. How do you see the scale so far?
The growth has been tremendous. Since launching the app in 2015 there have been 30 million downloads so far. We have 2 million annual paid subscribers to date with a total workforce of 3,200. In terms of revenue, the company has been growing at 100 per cent year-on-year for the last three years. The company’s revenue in the last financial year was Rs 520 crores and is on target to triple its revenue to Rs 1,400 crores this financial year.