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India’s newest unicorn Unacademy revs up animal spirits with another purchase
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Just weeks after it became India’s latest unicorn, edtech firm Unacademy said it has acquired Coursavy, a platform that helps Indian civil service aspirants prepare for entrance exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Unacademy, which has been on an acquisition spree this year, has already bought four other smaller players this year: Kreatryx, PrepLadder, Mastree and CodeChef.

Coursavy, started in January 2019 by Vimal Singh Rathore, “has developed a scalable learning platform and process which solves the challenge of lack of discipline in learning — the most cited roadblock to a learner’s success”, Unacademy said in a release, adding that along with other educators, Rathore will now teach on the Unacademy platform. 

Edtech startups have attracted a lot of investor attention over the last few years, and more so during the coronavirus pandemic that has forced schools, colleges and universities to shut down.

Earlier this month, Unacademy, which was founded as a YouTube channel in 2010 by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, Hemesh Singh and Sachin Gupta, entered the billion-dollar valuation club after it received a $150 million dollar funding from SoftBank. 

The deal valued the Bengaluru-based edtech firm at $1.45 billion, making it the second Indian unicorn in the space after Byju’s.

Existing investors General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital India, Nexus Venture Partners, Facebook and Blume Ventures also participated in this round. 

In February 2020, VCCircle reported that Unacademy had raised $110 million (Rs 787 crore) from social network Facebook Inc., US-based private equity firm General Atlantic and other investors.

Run by Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Unacademy helps educators create lessons on the Educator App, which learners access via the Learning App. It has more than 10,000 educators and 13 million learners, the company had said last year. 

Last year, it launched Unacademy Plus, a subscription model, which offers students unlimited access to live courses. The company claims that more than 50,000 learners have subscribed to Unacademy Plus since its launch.

In 2018, early-stage venture capital firm WaterBridge Ventures, which had invested $1 million in Unacademy in 2016, exited with a return of five times on its investment.

Unacademy is just one of several edtech startups that have been attracting big cheques in the last couple of years. 

In August, Eruditus Learning Solutions Pte Ltd, which offers executive learning programmes, raised $113 million in its Series D round of funding led by Prosus Ventures, a spin-off from South African investment firm Naspers.

Just days before that, Byju's, which became a unicorn in 2018, raised $122 million in funding from DST Global. The capital infusion from DST Global – floated by Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner – came as a tranche of its ongoing Series F funding round. 

This fundraise came two months after Byju’s raised an undisclosed sum from Bond Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by former Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker. 

The edtech firm also bought venture capital-backed WhiteHat Jr, which focuses on coding education, for $300 million last month. The deal also gave a spectacular exit to investors. 

In July, Vedantu scooped up $100 mn in Series D funding led by US-based investment firm Coatue Management; and Toppr raised $46 million in its Series D round of funding led by UAE-based family investment office Foundation Holdings.

In other deals in the pandemic, Lightbox Ventures led a $7.2 million pre-Series B funding round in Flinto and upGrad raised Rs 50 crore in debt financing, among others.

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