Bengaluru: Online tutoring startup Byju’s (Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd) is expected to be valued at $3.5 billion at the close of its ongoing funding round, three people aware of the developments said, as heavy interest from top late-stage venture and private-equity investors boosts its valuation far higher than originally anticipated. Raising funds at this valuation will make Byju’s India’s fourth most valuable startup, behind digital payments firm Paytm (One97 Communications Pvt. Ltd), cab-hailing service Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) and budget hotel chain Oyo Rooms (Oravel Stays Pvt. Ltd).

In its latest round, which is on the verge of closing, Byju’s is set to raise $200-300 million in primary and secondary capital from new investors such as private equity giant General Atlantic, the people cited above said. The secondary transaction may happen at a lower valuation and some existing investors, including Sequoia Capital, may secure either partial or full exits, they added. All three of them requested anonymity. Mint could not immediately ascertain the valuation of the secondary deal.

If the fundraising closes at a valuation of $3.5 billion, it would more than triple the company’s value from its previous round and cement its status as one of the breakout startups from India in the past five years.

A Byju’s spokesperson declined to comment.

Mint had first reported in July and September that Byju’s was in talks to raise fresh funds at a valuation of over $2 billion. Since then, investor demand has surged.

Byju’s is part of a small but growing number of tech startups that have rapidly grown their businesses and consistently attracted blue-chip investors. In July 2017, Byju’s raised about $40 million from Tencent Holdings Ltd, months after raising $30 million from Verlinvest. Since starting out in 2008, Byju’s has raised over $240 million from Tencent, Verlinvest, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Aarin Capital, among others.

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In the past three years, Byju’s has exceeded investor expectations. The company, which started out as an offline teaching centre in Bengaluru, launched an app in 2015 to increase user base. It currently offers two separate learning apps—its flagship app caters to students from Classes VI to XII, while the second targets students of Classes IV and V.

The online education startup plans to launch another app for younger students soon.

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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 raised its annual revenue target for this year to 1,400 crore. The company claims it is among the few profitable Indian unicorns.

Byju’s remarkable journey is also part of a broader boom in the online content space in India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem. More than a dozen content deals amounting to nearly $500 million are expected to be closed before the end of the year, according to Mint research.

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