Ex-Xiaomi exec joins Unacademy as chief business officer to lead offline ops
Sunil Baby, Chief Business Officer, Unacademy

Edtech unicorn Unacademy has appointed Sunil Baby as chief business officer to spearhead growth and expansion of its offline network. 

The appointment comes two days after Unacademy has forayed into the offline learning space by rolling out its two coaching centres in Kota. Most of the edtech players are now building their offline presence across India amid a slowing down in the sector after two years of hypergrowth as Covid-19 curbs have eased and students started returning to physical classes.

Baby will report to Vivek Sinha, chief operating officer at Unacademy, and will be based out of the company headquarter in Bengaluru. He will be responsible for the expansion of the edtech’s centres and other retail presence.     

Baby has 20 years of experience across sales and distribution and had previously worked in firms like LG, Motorola Bharti and Sharp. In his earlier role, he had served as Xiaomi ‘s Senior Director of offline sales operations.      

 Baby had completed his Bachelors in Science from Holkar Science College in Indore and had done MBA from SCMS, Kerala.      

“Sunil has joined Unacademy at an exciting time when we are looking to expand our offline offering and strengthen our presence as we foray into newer markets. We believe his core expertise in building a strong foundation for offline channels and managing offline strategies will help us accelerate our growth as we continue to meet the needs of our expanding learners and educator base,” said Vivek Sinha, Chief Operating Officer, Unacademy.      

In March, Unacademy launched an experience store in New Delhi called ‘Unacademy Store’. After Kota, the edtech player is eyeing to open other offline learning centres in Jaipur, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Patna, Pune and Delhi. 

As the pandemic growth tapers off and offline institutions reopen, large edtech companies like Vedantu and Byju’s have also announced forays into offline teaching.   

In February, Byju’s, owned and operated by Think & Learn Pvt Ltd, said that it will launch about 500 offline tuition centers in India and will invest $200 million for the same.      

Aakash Educational Services, owned by Byju’s, is also looking to open 75 new centers this year, VCCircle had reported.      

Moreover, competition in the India’s edtech space is rising as the top companies in the segment are expanding aggressively by adding more offerings to their product range, either organically or inorganically.    

In May, Gaurav Munjal, founder and CEO of Unacademy, in an email to his employees signalling a potential funding crunch said the company must focus on profitability at all costs and the staff must learn to work under constraints going ahead. He highlighted that Unacademy's every test preparation category must be profitable in the next three months and its centres should be profitable in the current financial year itself.  

Unacademy counts global venture capital (VC) firms, including Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management and SoftBank, among others, as its backers. The edtech firm is currently valued at $3.44 billion.  

Munjal's email signals the shift towards focus on profitability amid the liquidity squeeze which si felt in the startup ecosystem that has prompted some startups including Unacademy to lay off their staff in the past months to cut costs. 

Unacademy had laid off nearly 600 employees comprising nearly 10% of its workforce, VCCircle had reported. 

The previous month, it had let go over 100 employees from its PrepLadder team amid “restructuring” of the organization.  

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