[BENGALURU] India's online education startup Byju's is said to be raising capital from investors including BlackRock and T Rowe Price Group as demand for such classes skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.
The round totalling about US$200 million could close as early as end-November, according to a person familiar with the matter. Byju's, already India's second-most valuable startup, will be valued at US$12 billion in this round, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information isn't public yet.
A Byju's spokesperson declined to comment to emailed questions. Byju's backers include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mary Meeker's Bond Capital and Tiger Global Management. The Bengaluru-based startup, officially known as Think and Learn Pvt, is one of several in India's education technology segment which are expanding rapidly as students, parents and teachers flock to online classes as the pandemic closed schools in India since March.
Byju's was founded by Byju Raveendran, a former teacher and the son of educators, who conceived the smartphone app in 2011. The app caters to students from kindergarten to the 12th grade, and has been adding over five million users a month. India has about 250 million students in the K-12 grades. The app provides lessons in maths and science through video animations and games.
There were more than 70 million users logging in from over 1,700 cities around the country, the startup said in September when it announced its previous funding round. Of these, over 4.5 million are paid users. Byju's is targeting doubling its revenues to US$1 billion in the current financial year ending in March 2021.
The company is one of the two education technology unicorns in the country. The other is Unacademy, which is backed by SoftBank Group's Vision Fund.