Byju Raveendran the founder of BYJU’S and a former classroom teacher who developed an education app is now India’s newest billionaire.
BYJU’S (Think and Learn Pvt Ltd) is a Bangalore-based educational technology and online tutoring firm founded in 2011. The app has grown to a valuation of almost $6 billion in about seven years.
The 37-year-old Byju Raveendran joined the rarefied club after his Think & Learn Pvt scored $150 million in funding earlier this month. That deal conferred a value of $5.7 billion on the company in which the founder owns more than 21 per cent, sources said.
Education technology for kindergarten through 12th grade is one of the fastest-growing segments of the country’s internet market, said Anil Kumar, chief executive officer of Redseer Management Consulting Pvt.
He set up Think & Learn in 2011, offering online lessons before launching his main application in 2015.
Growing up in a village in Kerala where his parents were school-teachers, Raveendran was always in the playground. He had a passion for cricket, football and table tennis.
Later, became a mechanical engineer and then began helping friends crack entry exams to top Indian engineering and management schools. He ultimately began teaching thousands in sports stadiums, tuning out to be a celebrity tutor who commuted between multiple cities during weekends.
Its closing coincided with the announcement that the company’s Byju’s app- named after the founder will – will team up with Walt Disney Co and taking its service to American shores by early 2020.
In his new app, from The Lion King’s Simba to Frozen’s Anna, the Disney characters will teach math and English to students from grades one through three. The same characters star in animated videos, stories, games, and interactive quizzes.
“Kids everywhere relate to Disneys’ Simba or Moana, who grip kid’s attention before we take them through the loop of learning,” Raveendran said.
Online learning is booming, perhaps nowhere more so than on Byju’s home turf, where internet usage is exploding because of the ubiquity of cheap smartphones and cut-price wireless plans. India’s online learning market is expected to more than double to $5.7 billion by 2020, according to the government-backed India Brand Equity Foundation.