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Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO, Unacademy.
Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO, Unacademy.

E-schooling a positive development

Our internal goal for the next three years is to grow ten times from where we are currently, says Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO, Unacademy

MUMBAI : Ed-tech in India was already a rapidly growing space and the pandemic has only expanded the need. Test preparation platform Unacademy has raised over $110 million from the likes of Facebook and PE firm General Atlantic at a valuation of $510 million this year. Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO, Unacademy talks about how sustainable the sector is and how they have mapped growth for the company. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How far has the pandemic required Unacademy to reassess your pre-covid business model?

We actually did not change our business model post covid-19. What the pandemic did is to prove that we had a great model to begin with. What we did differently, however, was to make sure that people knew about us, especially during the outbreak when there was a need for our products. So, we made sure that we launched a lot of free classes. That helped us get more exposure, helped us clock up a lot of free watchtime, which ultimately helped in our growth.

How do you see Unacademy scaling up over the next three years in terms of geographic reach, M&As, operational stability as well as user base?

Unacademy plans to grow beyond the test prep space in India to cater to the educational needs of other countries. In the last 4-5 months, we have achieved what we had planned for the next 6-8 months. Our internal goal for the next three years is to grow ten times from where we are currently. For that, we are doubling down on our overall mission to help people achieve their goals. We are good at building full-stack products for the end-user, so we will continue to find out areas in which people need coaching from the best experts, where people need training and we’ll launch subscriptions for those goals and help people achieve their dreams. Online education is a highly scalable model and taking your product to foreign shores is a matter of time. We currently have live classes in Indonesia and Brazil and we will grow to provide the best education to more learners across the globe.

Do you think this ed-tech investor sentiment will be sustainable once people start in-person classes again? Also, what would you advise upcoming start-ups in the space?

I think investors will fund great businesses with irreplaceable moats. Obviously, some sectors are more favourable in certain situations over others, but I think if you’re building a great business and creating good products that are many folds better than anything else out there then investors will continue to see value in your business and invest. At the end of the day building a great company starts with a great product and a great team. So, build great products that people actually need and then keep scaling from there. One advice I always give to entrepreneurs is to build great products that solve a real need and make them 10 times better than anything else out there because there are a lot of problems to be solved.

Do you see partnerships with academic institutions as an integral step to scale up from the current online ed-tech demand?

Unacademy has made it free for institutions to use our platform to teach their students. At the start of the pandemic, we realized that most schools did not have the necessary digital infrastructure to conduct classes online. So, we quickly opened our platform for access to any school which needed it. Educational institutions seeking to go online is a positive development for the sector, and many of them may choose to partner with ed-tech companies for that. But more broadly, I think this helps strengthen the ecosystem for online learning and ingrains it in a positive way in a student’s learning journey.

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