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Ever thought that an online platform like BYJU’s that made its mark in the education domain, founded in 2011, would go on to acquire a 1988 founded competitive exams preparation giant like Aakash Educational Services Limited?
If you are as amazed and shocked as we are, make sure to go through the entire article to read about BYJU’s and its journey from just another ed-tech platform to the topmost multinational educational company.
The journey of BYJU’s highlights that an exceptional vision, a creative idea, and constant improvements act as the foundations of entrepreneurship and a successful startup in the 21st century.
Most of you would be aware that ‘BYJU’s- The Learning app, thanks to the advertisements on YouTube and Television, is an ed-tech company whose modus operandi remains of providing quality online education.
But few people are aware of the man that stood as a pillar to craft the company from his imagination into reality, Byju Raveendran. He often gets accredited as the force that embarked the online education ecosystem in India, without which many talented gems would remain undiscovered in the remote areas of India, with poor or no access to quality education.
Therefore, to traverse through the ups and downs of BYJU’s and the online education ecosystem, read all the sections of the article.
Before BYJU’S- The Learning App came into existence.
Born to a Malayali family, Byju Raveendran was born in 1980 in the seaside town of Azhikode, Kerala, and brought up in a joint family. Both of his parents were professors, and predictably the characteristic of teaching got inherited by Byju too.
Raveendran, his father, taught physics and currently works as a Socialist to uplift the unheard sections of the society. On the other hand, his mother, Shobhana Valli, is a former professor of mathematics.
During his childhood, Byju enjoyed several sports activities at the university level, including football, table tennis, badminton, cricket, and others, as his father inspired him to participate in sports.
He was indeed a decent student who, unlike the majority of his peers, enjoyed Mathematics. At that time, he preferred to learn on his own because he couldn’t attend class due to athletic activities. Though it was difficult for him, he invented his techniques for understanding diagrams, constructing sequences, and answering questions. As a result, he was able to rapidly and quickly finish the curriculum.
That shows how he blended the art of creativity and his problem-solving skills to tackle a problem rather than escaping and cribbing upon it.
Down the line, he decided to pursue a career as an engineer. He obtained his mechanical engineering degree from Kannur’s Government Engineering College.
After completing his graduation, he got employed as a “Service Engineer” at an undisclosed multinational shipping company.
An unplanned beginning
It’s the unexpected that changes our lives. Byju Raveendran’s journey is the perfect example of that maxim.
Continuing his job as a service engineer, Byju went to Bangalore for a holiday and had a bunch of friends, burning the midnight oil for the CAT test. Being an ardent student of mathematics and science, his aptitude skills were par excellence. As expected by a group of young individuals, considering his prior experience and interest in academics, they approached him with a request to assist them during their CAT preparation.
He assisted them in overcoming their difficulties, taught different topics, and even appeared for the exams without any intention to qualify. Ironically, he obtained a total mark of 100 percentile, and the majority of his peers passed the test as well.
Having observed Byju’s teaching skills, his friends suggested launching a tutorial class to teach candidates and essential concepts for competitive exams.
Had his friends not encouraged him towards teaching for competitive exams, we could have seen a regression in the Online education system in India that continues to increase exponentially in 2021.
After his friends and family’s initial support and encouragement, BYJU started its own competitive examination classroom program, BYJU’s Classes. There, he offered MBA students guidance on answering aptitude problems and provided them a roadmap for the competitive exam.
Often, BYJU could be seen on a friend’s terrace, teaching his students and enlightening them with imperishable academic and life advice. Also, it was during his days of teaching for the competitive exams such as GRE, CAT, etc., when he met Divya Gokulnath, his wife. She also happened to prepare for a similar competitive exam and prepared under the guidance of BYJU.
While Byju’s knowledge and communicating skills grew exponentially, the proportion of students also increased significantly.
And, from a terrace to a classroom, to an auditorium, the odds started to turn in favor of BYJU.
Byju liked taking lessons and expressing his expertise, so he left his job and started teaching. He offered his first few seminars for free. He just charged for specialized workshops only after the students became pleased with his learning styles. Byju grew in popularity among students.
He conducted maths seminars for over 20,000 students in metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, and Chennai. In 2009, he started recording his lessons to teach students in regions where he couldn’t reach physically or vice-versa.
A blueprint for ed-tech progress
Although everything seemed sailing smoothly, BYJU constantly looked for some space for introspection and upgradation.
Such a mindset plays a key factor in the building blocks of a company; otherwise, the work culture eventually saturates and collapses. As an entrepreneur, he felt compelled to expand and take advantage of all possible resources. Byju was approached in 2010 with the idea of providing his courses online so that millions of students could benefit from his high-quality coaching.
The concept came from some IIM graduates who wanted to achieve good educational material for students worldwide. Although the internet was not widely available in India, Byju and Divya Gokulnath, his wife, went ahead with their plans and founded ‘Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd.’ It was in the same year when Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd that developed BYJU’s application.
Byju claims that complete conceptual understanding remains a requirement for competing in any competitive test, so firstly, school students were identified as potential targets in the market, also known as the K-12 segment(Kindergarten to Class X11th)
Raveendran hired several professional experts and senior management teams and closely monitored the operations to maintain the smooth and timely delivery of the lectures.
BYJU’s: The Biggest Leap
The ed-tech startup company developed an app named ‘BYJU’s- The Learning App,’ which was well-received by both students and parents as soon as it was announced in 2015. The app had more than 5.5 million installs and over 2.5 lakh paying subscribers within three years of its inception. The cumulative number of the paying and non-paying customers of the company crosses the 50 million mark.
Nevertheless, there were still quirks that needed to be sorted out with regular screening. And when rivals were busy breaking down his concept of education by technology, Byju stayed calm, committed to his optimistic convictions, and continued to work harder.
Be it a virtual learner or a coaching-going student, everyone flocked to his app because they liked the concept of creative learning, and ultimately the app quickly became a hot topic around the world.
BYJU’s ed-tech online app is Asia’s first app that received funding from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s Institute from the Chan-Zukerberg project. In 2019, his business signed Shahrukh Khan as a brand ambassador.
Services of BYJU’s
BYJU’s ed-tech operates on a freemium business strategy, in which it provides both free and charged (premium) offerings to its clients. The firm asks students to fill out a questionnaire or visit its website with their information and then provides them with a free 15-day trial. If the free trial period expires, the student must purchase the courses from BYJU’s to enjoy uninterrupted access to the entire material.
Furthermore, the organization offers mentorship programs in which one-on-one guidance gets provided to the students, preparing for an examination, and guidance to the parents of the children.
Besides that, they also provide classroom programs in Noida, Gurgaon, and some other metropolitan cities. Users can choose to purchase electronic tablets from BYJU’s when they purchase the course, as per the examination syllabus. The tablet contains the course’s highlights, tests, practice questions, homework assignments, and other materials.
Mindset transition from offline to online education: A key problem faced during the initial days
Apart from the corporate difficulties that a startup goes through due to several managerial and corporate blocks, BYJU’s struggle to transition people’s mindset towards online education remained the toughest.
As expected, due to the centuries-old offline studies system, a sudden change was bound to cause disturbance in the offline ecosystem.
Initially, people were cynical about the so-called cons of online education. They were mostly left in a confused state of mind, even after knowing the benefits of online education. No one can deny that offline education does offer innumerable benefits compared to online education, such as doubt solving and efficient analysis of individual students.
That was the sole reason and inability of the ed-tech platforms that hampered their growth during the early 2012’s till 2015-16.But with the advancement in the technosphere, today, in 2021, the problem of individual doubt solving and tracking students’ progress seems to improve in ed-tech, especially BYJU’s.
BYJU’s and other platforms such as Unacademy & Vedantu have started offering personal mentorship and doubt solving sessions in an interactive way, limited to the premium subscribers.
Besides that, a question may have crossed your mind that all these ed-tech platforms offer their high-quality services to their premium subscribers only. Right?
In that case, we would like to inform you that there are many online ed-tech platforms, including BYJU’s, who regularly run free batches on YouTube for various courses such as IAS, JEE(MAINS & ADVANCED), CLAT, NEET, and many more.
As the article is being crafted, BYJU’s YouTube channels hold 2000+ free and detailed videos for various examinations on its various YouTube channels.
BYJU’s – Expansion
As per some reports, BYJU’S plans to go public before April 2023. The venture is planning to raise its IPO in the next 18-24 months. Besides that, on a conquering spree, On April 5, the ed-tech pioneer acquired Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) to gain exposure in the country’s test preparation market.
Therefore, now it is quite possible that Aakash Institute, known especially for the Medical and Engineering entrance examinations, would increase their online services to the students.
According to the information available in the public domain, the transaction was worth nearly $1 billion (roughly Rs 7,300 crore), making it BYJU’S largest purchase to date. The company has reaped the benefits throughout the pandemic years(2020-21), with its value recently increasing to $16.5 billion from $8 billion in January last year.
After the group raised $1.25 billion in equity capital in 2020, people began to speculate whether BYJU’s had the potential to become India’s most successful startup and surpass Paytm.
The majority was cynical since even PAYTM flourished throughout the lockdown period because of the Digital Payments. In June this year, it was finally, with an evaluation of $16.5 billion, BYJU’s dethroned PAYTM and became India’s most valued startup.
BYJU’S purchased LabInApp, a company that provides lab-like models for science students on a smartphone app, for an unspecified amount in September 2020. Also, the company has already raised $500 million in a recent round of investment from Silver Lake. Besides that, BYJU purchased ed-tech firm WhiteHat Jr. for $300 million in an all-cash transaction in August 2020.
The company has successfully penetrated the market in India and has also developed an influence in the Middle East. BYJU’s plans to extend to the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and other countries worldwide.
Owing to this, a few days ago, BYJU’S made its intention clear of expanding further in the USA after acquiring EPIC, an online book library encapsulating more than 40000 books.
EPIC works on a similar model as its current parent company, BYJU, providing both free and paid services.
EPIC is a subscription-based service that provides limitless access to hundreds of books, videos, and quizzes to classrooms and families. It was founded by Suren Markosian and Kevin Donahue, who, according to the reports, would continue with their operations in EPIC.
Also, as per the official statement of BYJU Raveendran, the company plans to expand its business in the USA through the upcoming investment of around $1 billion in the next two years.
Besides EPIC, BYJU also purchased the US-based learning network Osmo in January 2019 to extend its presence in the United States. In addition, the organization has partnered with Disney to create an early learning app for children in grades 1-3.
With the pace at which BYJU’s and other ed-tech are advancing towards providing quality education, people believe that soon the educational institutions would start adapting these platforms and begin a blend of online-offline education.
Though that point of historic educational transformation is distant, few indications such as UGC’s blended model of ‘offline-online education’ hints that it is on the cards.
What’s your point of view on the blended mode of study that is slowly becoming a possibility in the upcoming years.
Do express your thoughts in the comment section below!
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