India’s Unacademy raises $50 million to grow its online learning platform
Big money continues to flow in India’s growing education market. Bangalore-based Unacademy, which operates an online learning platform to help millions prepare for competitive exams in India, has raised $50 million to further scale its reach.
The Series D financing round was led by Steadview Capital, Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures, with Unacademy’s own co-founders Gaurav Munjal and Roman Saini also participating in it. The new round means the startup has raised close to $90 million to date.
The four-year-old startup is aimed at students who are preparing for competitive exams to get into a college and those who are pursuing graduation-level courses. Unacademy allows students to watch live classes from educators and later engage in sessions to review topics in more detail. It has 10,000 registered educators and 13 million learners — up from 3 million a year ago.
The startup said it will use the new fund to expand the number of educators it has on the platform, and also add more exam courses, Unacademy CEO Munjal told TechCrunch. It will also improve its product and expand the team.
Unacademy began its journey as a YouTube channel, but has since expanded to its own app where it offers some courses for free and others through a recently launched subscription business. The subscription service — called Unacademy Plus Subscription — has 50,000 users.
Unacademy also maintains an archive of all the classes, giving students the option to reference older lectures at any time through the app. The startup says YouTube is still its largest distribution channel. Overall, the platform sees more than 100 million monthly views across the platforms.
“We are seeing unprecedented growth and engagement from learners in smaller towns and cities, and are also very humbled to see that top-quality educators are choosing Unacademy as their primary platform to reach out to students. In the last few months, we have taken bigger strides toward achieving this mission. We have more than 400 top educators from across the country taking live classes every day on Unacademy Plus. This is available to every student, irrespective of their location,” said Munjal.
Unacademy competes with unicorn Byju’s, which is widely believed to be the largest edtech startup in the world with its valuation nearing $4 billion. Byju’s, which has more than 2.4 million paid subscribers (and over 30 million users), offers courses for students in kindergarten to year 12, in addition to those preparing for competitive under graduation level courses.
India has the largest population in the world in the age bracket of 5 to 24 years. The education space in the nation is estimated to grow to $35 billion in the next six years.
In recent months, Unacademy has grown more aggressive with marketing. Last year it tied up with web-production house The Viral Fever to fund a show called “Kota Factory,” which revolves around the lives of students who are preparing to go to an engineering college. In the midst of it, Unacademy also offered low-cost, discounted subscription plans to attract users to its subscription platform.
Unacademy has presence in Indonesia as well, where as of last year, it had about 30 educators. The startup did not offer an update on how its international ambitions are holding up. A representative of Unacademy told TechCrunch recently that the platform does not rely on ads for monetization.