Ed-tech startup Byju’s raises funds from Belgium’s Verlinvest

By Manu P Toms

  • 28 Mar 2017

Just three months after closing its last round, Bangalore-based ed-tech startup Byju’s has raised an undisclosed amount from Belgian family office Verlinvest. The company will use the funds to boost its global expansion and acquisition plans, it said in a statement.

Though Byju's declined to disclose the amount of investment, it said the amount was substantial.

A person close to the development said Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd, which runs Byju's, has raised $30 million (Rs 195 crore) in the new round that values the firm around $700 million (Rs 4,252 crore). The person also said that Byju's has kept the round open, and it expects more funds from Verlinvest if it carries out a major overseas acquisition in coming months.

In a recent interview with VCCircle, founder Byju Raveendran had said the company was evaluating buying a couple of gaming and learning apps in the US catering to lower grades.

With this investment, Byju's has raised around $170 million over the past year as it seeks to become a global player in the tech-driven K-12 education business. It is currently spending substantial marketing dollars to penetrate the domestic market deeper with its learning app and to expand to other English-speaking countries.

Verlinvest's investment follows a $15-million round by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private-sector investment arm, in Byju's in December. Following a $75-million fundraise from Sequoia India and Belgian investment firm Sofina in March 2016, Byju’s raised $50 million in a round co-led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) a few months later, in September. It was the first Asian investment by the philanthropic foundation of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

“We believe online learning has great potential globally and Byju's product addresses this with an innovative and compelling proposition," said Frederic de Mevius, chairman of the board, Verlinvest, in a statement.

"In the last 18 months, we have witnessed exponential growth in India. While these numbers are very exciting, there is a long way to go before we can call it a revolution. The fact that we are still reaching to less than 1% of the student population, shows the immense potential and the impact we can create," said Raveendran.

Byju's claims its K-12 app, which provides personalised learning experience, has reached 8 million while its paid subscription has touched 400,000. Byju's, founded nearly six years ago as offline tuition for higher classes and test preparation coaching for management and engineering entrances, has seen rapid growth since it shifted its focus to online education for K-12 classes through its learning app. Its early backer Aarin Capital made huge gains while part-exiting it early last year.

Verlinvest is the second Belgian investment firm after Sofina to invest in Byju's. Verlinvest's other portfolio companies include names like Vitacoco, Sula wines, Future group, Xseed, Rocket Internet-backed Global Fashion Group and Lazada.

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