LEAD School
LEAD School founders Smita Deorah (left) and Sumeet Mehta

Leadership Boulevard Pvt. Ltd, which operates education-technology company LEAD School, has raised $28 million (about Rs 210 crore) in a Series C funding round led by private equity firm WestBridge Capital.

Elevar Equity, an existing venture-stage investor, also participated in the round, Mumbai-based LEAD School said in a statement. Elevar had led the company’s previous two fundraising exercises and remains a major stakeholder.

LEAD School was founded by Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah in 2012. The company initially began operations by running affordable schools and teaching middle-school students. It then built out its platform, the LEAD School Integrated System, which it began offering in 2017.

The company says it has so far partnered with over 800 institutions across 15 states to offer this system. It will use the capital from this Series C round to accelerate the development and rollout of new product offerings, as well as increase its school networks in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. It will also use the funding to hire talent across teams.

“In the last three years, we have seen rapid adoption by schools and class averages improvement from below 60% to above 70%. During this [coronavirus] pandemic too, our Integrated System has enabled schools to deliver an uninterrupted learning experience for all students,” Mehta said.

Separately, WestBridge Capital managing director Sandeep Singhal said the PE firm was confident of its bet on LEAD School because of its approach to providing high-quality and accessible education.

“In the last few months, the ed-tech sector has evolved rapidly, changing the trajectory of the Indian education system multifold,” he added.

WestBridge mainly invests in publicly listed companies but also has a large portfolio of privately held firms. In the education sector, it had previously bet on TutorVista, which was acquired by multinational education publishing company Pearson in 2011. Last year, WestBridge had jointly led a $42-million funding round in ed-tech startup Vedantu.

Deals in the ed-tech space

Singhal’s remarks underscore the attractiveness the ed-tech – and larger education – sector holds for investors. While there has been a steady flow of capital to startups in the last few years, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of investments in this space.

Also, some of the biggest names in India’s ed-tech space – Byju’s, Unacademy, Toppr and Vedantu – have started making acquisitions to fill out product gaps.

Earlier this week, tutors and tutor-student connectivity focussed Teachmint raised an undisclosed sum in a round led by early-stage investor Better Capital, with participation from Titan Capital, the venture firm set up by Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal.

Last week, online climate school Terra.do Inc. raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by a few early-stage investment firms, including Beenext, technology-focused fund Rainmatter Capital and Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs (India).

In July, vernacular language-focussed platform Entri raised an additional $1.7 million in its pre-Series A funding round. The Kochi-based company has raised a total of $3.1 million in this capital exercise.

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