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We want to become a household name and are already moving in the right direction: Karan Shroff, Unacademy
Karan Shroff, Chief Marketing Officer, UnacademyUnacademy
Karan Shroff on what has helped Unacademy woo consumers onto its platform
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We want to become a household name and are already moving in the right direction: Karan Shroff, Unacademy

Karan Shroff on what has helped Unacademy woo consumers onto its platform
  • Bengaluru-based edtech startup Unacademy has been riding high. With a successful association with TVF on its show Aspirants and standout IPL campaigns, the startup is ready with its marketing plans for the IPL matches that resume in September.
  • We recently caught up with Karan Shroff, Chief Marketing Officer, Unacademy, to understand the brand’s marketing journey so far, how its strategies have worked to bring new users onto its platforms and how it is going about ensuring it becomes a household name in the next few years.
The last one and a half years have been challenging for most businesses across the globe. However, India’s edtech sector has witnessed a boom. With students stuck at home, having to move to online classes, online learning became a way of life, and the Indian edtech ecosystem gained from this immensely.

2020 also made investors realize the opportunity in the segment and the year saw India’s edtech startups raise over $2.2 billion in funding. And it was during this otherwise difficult year that Gaurav Munjal's edtech startup Unacademy became a unicorn. The startup raised $150 million in a round led by SoftBank, valuing it at $1.45 billion, making it the second unicorn in the space, after BYJU’s. It also made six acquisitions through 2020.

Unacademy currently boasts of over 50,000 educators and close to 49 million learners on its platform, a number that is steadily growing. Recently, they also released a film to thank both the learner and educator community for bringing them where they are today. The film said the platform has over 5 million monthly active users, learners from over 10,000 cities from across the country. The platform sees over 150,000 interactive classes conducted every month, in 14 different languages. Recently, it also revamped the app to make it more intuitive and interactive, adding features like hand raising, study groups and live mentorship.


When it comes to its marketing strategies so far, the platform has tailored its approach keeping its learner ecosystem at its core. A lot of its recent campaigns have also been about grabbing eyeballs and reaching their target audience, where they are. While we saw Unacademy ‘hijack’ the IPL commentary box earlier this year, a novel idea, we also saw the brand partner with TVF’s widely popular show Aspirants. The aim has been to raise awareness about the platform and tell learners how it is different.

We recently caught up with Karan Shroff, Chief Marketing Officer, Unacademy, to understand the brand’s journey so far, how its strategies have worked to bring new users onto its platforms and how it is going about ensuring it becomes a household name in the next few years.

Unacademy’s marketing story

The last one and a half years have been difficult for businesses the world over but Unacademy has been riding high. Most of its marketing strategies have worked in its favor too. Unacademy is the official partner for IPL for three seasons. In the first year, Unacademy’s film ‘Cracking the Game’, was well-received and won several awards. This year too, its campaign in the form of a commentary box highjack helped it differentiate itself. The IPL associating has also helped the platform gain the necessary eyeballs as it can be believed that a lot of its target audience watches the league.

So is Unacademy looking at this year’s IPL postponement as a speed bump? “I don’t think it is a bump. Once IPL restarts, we will continue being present. In fact, I see it as a good thing because IPL is a highly engaging event that runs nonstop for 55-60 days. So this year, the break I feel gives us a second boost,” explained Shroff.

The brand has a few more campaigns planned for the second half of the event that will go live once the matches resume.

On why it chose to associate with IPL, he said, “It was a strategic call to be a part of the league. IPL is the biggest cricketing league in the world, one that is watched by almost all of our country. The thought behind the association was that the Indian youth is entirely invested in the property, they love the intensity and energy of the league. With around 60 days of the league, it becomes difficult to miss a brand that advertises during the matches. We wanted to create awareness and become a household name. IPL has worked as a catalyst for us. With millions of people watching the league, we could leverage the reach and get the eyeballs but also it helped us build awareness and top-of-mind for the brand.”

Unacademy had also launched an inspirational film titled ‘The Greatest Lesson’, taking viewers through the ups and downs of Sachin Tendulkar’s career, a film that was very well-received. The aim behind capitalizing on sports, especially cricket, has helped the brand stand out for many young people, after all the sport is still a religion in India.


Its latest partnership with TVF for Aspirants, through which it tried to target UPSC aspirants, has also worked in the brand’s favor. Unacademy wanted to deep-dive into the segment, bring up real stories, and tell the stories through relatable characters. Shroff also revealed that it is going to be a multi-season association with TVF and there will be more seasons to the show.

So did the last one year throw no curveballs, when it came to its marketing plans? “One of the things we did when we started working from home with restricted physical access to each other from an office space perspective, we started making multiple plans, be it a shoot, a campaign or a simple social media post, we always had multiple plans and options to fall back on. We did this because it was a pandemic and nobody really knew what was in store and what lay ahead of us. So having a Plan B and C really helped us. And that has been one of our biggest learnings in these past months,” said Shroff.

On driving differentiation

According to estimates by KPMG, India today has over 3,500 edtech startups, so driving differentiation becomes critical ingredient in the recipe for success.

On how Unacademy has been trying to differentiate itself, Shroff said, “Our thought-process is fairly simple, we keep the consumer or in our case, the learner, at the heart of everything we do. So everytime we build a campaign we sit back and think, why, when and how. Why is of course, always for the consumer. So if the ‘Why’ doesn't feel like its adding value to the learners, we usually don't go ahead with it. Everything that we do costs marketing dollars and as long as your focus is on learners and the consumers, they're at the heart of everything and you're sure that your communication is reaching them, its then just about crafting a good communication.”

The vision for Unacademy

Going ahead, Shroff wants to focus more on building the brand presence on various properties. On what his larger vision for the brand is, Shroff added, “It’s to become a household name, and while there is still some ground to cover, I think we are moving in that very direction. We want to build a legacy of sorts, the way brands like Colgate and Maggi have done. If you are known from a communication and awareness perspective, it makes it so much easier to become a part of the consumer’s life and that’s what we are aiming for.”