EXCLUSIVE: BYJU’s co-founder reveals that revenue has doubled to ₹2800 crore in a year⁠ — and that is just the start of a glorious run

Divya Gokulnath, co-founder and director, BYJU'sBYJU's
  • In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, Divya Gokulnath, co-founder and director at BYJU’s shares how the startup has seen the busiest three months thanks to lockdown.
  • In March and April, BYJU’s added 13.5 million consumers, taking the total to 50 million.
  • Even before that, revenue has doubled to ₹2800 crore and the startup plans to go international soon.
  • Get the latest news and updates on Business Insider.
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The online learning platform, BYJU’s has had its busiest three months. In March and April, BYJU’s added 13.5 million consumers. It was the first to announce that its content would now be available for free for all soon after the lockdown, and that got the $8-billion ed-tech giant, which was already profitable, a new wave of users, many of whom, the company hopes, will pay for the services in the future.

The reason why Byju’s could afford free content for over 50 million subscribers is because the company had already doubled its revenue to ₹2,800 crore ($370 million) in the year ending March 2020, revealed co-founder Divya Gokulnath. “We have met our revenue target of ₹2800 crore. This has happened even when our consumer (students) and purchaser (parents) are different,” she said in an exclusive interview with Business Insider.

The startup now has 50 million users on its platform, even though paid user count is 3.5 million. But a metric that made all the difference was the engagement rate. Students who used to spend 70 minutes on the app per session and come back twice-thrice a week, now spend 100 minutes per day. “85% of our students renew the courses year after year. That is happening because parents see effectiveness,” she said.

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Byju and Divya, teachers first

The founders, Divya and her husband Byju, were preparing as early as February while the country went into lockdown only on March 25. “Both of us are still teachers first. We are very paranoid about the quality of classes, so the top management at Byju’s are actually all teachers who are taking classes on the app,” said Divya.

Byju, who is quarantined in the US, stays up all night to take the classes. “He doesn’t sleep. He is available India, US and Singapore time,” she said with a laugh. In fact, according to Divya, the entire top management at Byju’s are all teachers taking classes on the app.

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Busiest three months

So, in the times of the pandemic, BYJU’s rolled out three new features – it started live classes, introduced new subjects like social studies (history, civics and geography) and also rolled out the app in multiple languages.

And this meant, teams worked overtime and put in double the effort to roll out new features within days.

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“Nobody predicted how things would be. We have opened up a lot of business avenues which we forecasted, it’s just that it’s happening earlier than what we thought. Right now, we are taking one day at a time. We have weekly goals and we break them down into daily goals,” she shared.

What’s the new normal?

At the helm of India’s biggest online learning app, Divya believes that the new normal will not be 100% online. She instead believes that the new normal will include the best of online learning into a school curriculum. She said that BYJU’s is at that sweet spot, where once a child comes back from school the learning on the app is all they would need.

“School is critical for the wholesome development of the child. Every crisis presents an opportunity and this is that inflection point for education, where we expect the rise of a blended model of education,” she said.
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But here’s what online learning has cracked – there are no more backbenchers. “Lockdown has enabled the power of online learning be it students, teachers or parents all are adapting to online learning. Every student now has a front row seat in the class, the concept of backbenchers is gone. And this is an opportunity for students to take up self learning,” she said.

A decacorn in the making and new plans

According to reports, BYJU’s is now raising funds with a $10 billion valuation set to be India’s third startup to be a decacorn, after Paytm and OYO. While Divya doesn’t comment on the funding plans, she confirms that BYJU’s plans to go international are still very much on the works.
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“We are planning to go international in the next few months but we are also going deeper in India. 65% of our students are outside the top 10 cities, that showed us it is an aspirational product for students who don’t have access to good education,” she said.

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