The coronavirus crisis has plunged the world into a deep recession but has also served as an inflection point for online education.
With 1.5 billion students almost overnight and the city closed, the growth of e-learning platforms has been one of the epidemic’s foremost narratives. There has been an unprecedented increase in users and traffic in the region in the last two months.
BYJU’S, India’s initial and most valuable edtech startup, saw 7.5 million new users on its platform as it began offering free access to content. In April alone, the Bengaluru-based firm generated Rs 350 crore in revenue.
“We finished our best month in April despite having free content. In the next three to four months we are expected to double.
“We are fortunate in this business which now has a positive relevance. Monetization is improved because it is a clear inflection point. He said that good companies in this sector will see a tremendous jump in their growth.
On the show, Byju was joined by co-founder and wife Divya Gokulnath. COVID-19 features EdTech’s core in the world, innovation during the crisis, new opportunities in online learning, the rise and rise of BYJU’S, and how it works to build a scalable and sustainable business.
Byju believes that the changes Edtech has seen after COVID-19 are not short-term. “Some things will also remain on the other side of the crisis. We are likely to see a mixed format of learning, combining the best of both online and offline worlds.
The $ 10 billion startups recently launched ‘Live Classes’ on its app. The feature is intended to replicate classroom-like environments online and is different from normal pre-recorded videos on BYJU’S. “It allows students to attend scheduled classes from time to time and they like it. This facility is meant to replicate the regularity of the school, ”explains Biju.
‘Live Classes’ is one of many great additions and product innovations that have come after the startup Coronavirus spread. “We have released more app updates in the last three months,” says Divya. “We never thought that working from home would be so productive,” she says.
Historically, the crisis gave rise to innovation. It is said that 50 new unicorns were born soon after the last global financial crisis. BYJU co-founders believe that many new problem-solving opportunities will come to EdTech.
Baiju explains, “These are still early days which can do well to improve teaching and learning. Students are easily adaptable due to being a digital native. But teachers are struggling to use tools like Zoom, Google Classroom etc. Therefore, simple tools have to be created. More institutions will have to open this mixed form of learning. There will be opportunities in B2B. You can also build co-curricular skills. ”
Service-based to product-based learning
BYJU’S started in 2011 as an offline tutorial company called Think and Learn Privately Limited. The founders travelled to cities and conducted live classes in auditoriums and stadiums with thousands of students.
Experimenting with learning formats and known as ‘product-market fit’ in startup parlance.
BYJU’s Learning App was launched in 2015, and it accelerates its journey to become the world’s most valuable EdTech startup, with top tiers such as Sequoia Capital India, Chain Zuckerberg Initiative, General Atlantic, Tiger Global, Tencent, Naspers and others Will attract global investors.
Talking about a change in attitude, Baiju says, “It was much harder to change the way teachers teach. Therefore, we focused on students, creating our go-to-market strategy. As of 2015 our main model was 100 percent services. We constrained our own models to be product-best, where students could receive content based on their speed, style, and size of learning. An offline class does not allow you personalization. It can force presence, but not attention. Therefore, we offered an asynchronous, on-demand, personalized learning for four to 17-year-olds. ”
The main challenge was about the change in learning mindset from an examination-oriented approach driven by a learning mindset, and finding the right balance between “effectiveness and engagement”.
But how easy or difficult was it to explain the change team? And how does decision-making work at BYJU’S, which now has more than 1,000 people?
The CEO said, “You must have existential flexibility.” Can you question yourself at every step? Can you have a founding mindset and ownership among many people in the organization? You make nine mistakes before you get it right, and when you get that one right, you grow up. ”
Divya says, “Initially from 10 people in the core team, we lost only one person in the last 10 years. Continuity of the team is very important. Our thinking aligns, and we are able to keep it a mission-driven company. ”
Build a profitable long term business
The founders reported that when they started, there was no playbook for success in this area.
“There was no cut-copy-paste model that was successful in the US or China. We built a company based on first principles. Now, we have an 85 percent renewal rate on the year, which is a clear indicator that most of our users are finding the product effective, ”says Byju.
But from the beginning, BYJU’S has overcome the ‘growth-at-all-costs mindset and focused on profitability and sustainability.
The founder explains, “We do nothing just to add to the topline and just because we have capital. If value creation does not follow pricing, it is a short-term game. Counts in the long-term view. We have high quality, patient investors on the table. If you are in it for the long term, there is no scope to make short-term optics. It is all about losing and winning big. That’s why we have been able to get maximum skin in the game. ”
Co-founder Divya said, “As a company, we have always respected money. We are crazy about ROI, and know where, how much, when and what to spend. Budgeting well is very important. ”
Startups believe that in a post-epidemic world, it is important to have multiple lifeboat strategies or survival mechanisms. “Startups are much more flexible if they are going through a recession. The way we work, consume, transact, and everything is changing. Therefore, it is important to have a survival strategy for the 3-6-9-12 month deadline.
“Weekly and daily plans are the order of the day,” says Byju.
He also gives the example of a compelling cricket to describe the dynamic scheme. “You dressing room [मैदान से बाहर] Can keep more than 50 game strategies. But ultimately, it all comes down to the ball-by-ball strategy on the ground, and that’s the game that will win the game for you.
“There is no $ 100 billion market cap firm in education. Companies have not invested enough to fit the right product-market. ”
Global expansion and future planning
EdTech Decorn is going global, yes. But the co-founders confirm that “India will remain a primary focus for this”.
Last year, BYJUS acquired the US-based startup Osmo, which produces educational games, to accelerate its blended learning offering. “We earned $ 100 million from that integration in the first full year since the acquisition. This is a 4X increase from the year before,” Biju revealed, “Osmo added both length and depth-wise to our product portfolio.”
Are there more global acquisitions in the pipeline?
Without revealing specifics, the co-founder says, “We monitor two things: one if a company adds a lot of value to users in India, and two, which is new to the market and growing rapidly.” Used to be.”
Edtech Decorn also plans to launch an accelerator this year. “We are building an accelerator to support companies in large distribution chains, and this is our way to reach early-stage startups,” says Biju.
In a few years, BYJU’S also plans to go public. It will continue to add to its product portfolio, adding “more subjects, more grades, more languages”.
“India has a very young and aspirational population. We have reached only three percent viewers. We can affect millions of people as technology is growing and it can happen on a large scale without compromising quality. Physical division in education can be combined with digital access, ”says Byju.
Then what is the end goal? The founders can change the way students learn in India, if we sign it, we can create a very powerful nation. The day you think you are successful, it is over. “.