Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran.
Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran.

Byju’s in talks to raise over $150 million in deal that values start-up at up to $2 billion

Byju's (Think and Learn Pvt Ltd) is in talks with at least two new investors and existing investors led by Tencent Holdings Ltd to participate in the latest round

Bengaluru: Online education start-up Byju’s is in talks with new and existing investors to raise fresh funds of more than $150 million at a valuation of $1.8-2 billion, according to three people aware of the discussions.

Byju’s (Think and Learn Pvt Ltd) is in talks with at least two new investors and existing investors led by Tencent Holdings Ltd to participate in the latest round, said the people mentioned above. All three of them requested anonymity as these talks are confidential.

India’s largest ed-tech firm is seeking a valuation of $1.8-2 billion in its latest round, up from its previous-round valuation of roughly $1 billion, the people quoted above said.

In July last year, Byju’s had raised about $40 million from Tencent, months after it raised $30 million from Verlinvest.

Since starting out in 2008, Byju’s has raised more than $240 million from Tencent, Verlinvest, Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Aarin Capital and others.

Byju’s has exceeded investor expectations over the past three years. It started out as an offline teaching centre in Bengaluru. Its founder, Byju Raveendran, travelled across Bengaluru and to other cities giving lectures and classes to students preparing for the Common Admission Test (CAT), which opens the doors to India’s top management institutes. In 2015, the company launched an app that vastly increased its audience. Byju’s currently offers two separate learning apps—its flagship learning app caters to students from Class VI to XII, while its other app targets students in classes IV and V. The online education start-up also plans to launch a separate app for younger students soon.

The move to a digital education platform has been lucrative for the company. In June, Byju’s said that it touched 100 crore in monthly revenue and it raised its annual revenue target for this year to 1,400 crore. Mint reported in June that Byju’s has been growing at 100% annually consistently for the past three years. The company claims it is one of the few Indian unicorns that has become profitable though that could not be independently verified. The rapid rise of Byju’s comes at a time when ed-tech start-ups are seeing a revival in investor interest.

Byju’s is part of a small but growing bunch of Indian tech start-ups that have rapidly grown their business within a short space of time, consistently attracted marque investors and increased their valuations with each funding round.

Earlier this month, online food-delivery start-up Swiggy became the quickest Indian company to hit $1 billion in valuation and enter the so-called “unicorn" club, after raising $210 million from South Africa’s Naspers and new investors, such as DST Global.

This year has already seen a sharp increase in fundraising across consumer internet start-ups, compared with the last two years, as investors have been more willing to write bigger cheques for startups that are growing quickly. A number of start-ups, including the likes of FirstCry and Lenskart, are also in the process of raising large rounds.

Byju’s declined to comment.