Picture: 123RF/Mikko Lemola
Picture: 123RF/Mikko Lemola

Bangalore — A funding round led by Naspers Ventures and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board more than doubled Indian education startup Byju’s valuation to $3.6bn.

The company raised $540m, which will be used to fuel an expansion into English-speaking countries, Bangalore-based Byju’s said in a statement on Monday. The new valuation puts it among the top five on CB Insights’ ranking of India startups.

The startup has grown at 100% rates since its launch and will target tripling of its revenue to 14-billion rupees this year.

Byju’s has attracted millions of users in India, where there is often a lack of good teachers, helping to teach students from kindergarten to year 12 subjects including maths, science and English. Its existing backers include the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, as well as Tencent Holdings and Sequoia Capital.

“The company has aggressive plans for international market expansion and will make bold investments in technology that will help to further personalise learning for students,” it said in the statement.

Launched in 2015, Byju’s app has 30 million users, with more than 2 million of them paying an annual fee of 10,000 rupees ($139), unusual in a country where users are mostly unwilling to pay subscriptions. The app contains interactive content, animations and tutor-led video lessons.

“India has the largest school-age population in the world and Indian households are willing to invest a lot in their children’s education because a good education is the best path to success,” founder and CEO Byju Raveendran said in the statement.

The education technology industry is undergoing a massive shift, Raveendran said, with students learning through interactive methods.

Tutors bring the real world into lessons — using pizza to explain fractions, a birthday cake to teach circles and segments, a basketball game to demonstrate projectile motion.