BYJU's founder is India's newest billionaire

Byju Raveendran owns more than 21 per cent stake in the parent company

BYJU's founder is India's newest billionaire [File] Byju Raveendran | AFP

Byju Raveendran, the founder of BYJU's learning app, is India's newest billionaire. The parent company of the app, Think & Learn Pvt., recently raised $150 million in fresh funding taking the company's valuation to nearly $6 billion. Raveendran, a former classroom teacher who developed the education app, currently owns more than 21 per cent stake in the company.

The company recently announced that the BYJU's app will team up with Walt Disney Co. taking its service to the American shores by early 2020. His new app, Early Learn App, focuses on ‘learning by doing’ experience with digital worksheets and up-to-date feedbacks, enabling parents to track their children’s learning. It has numerous features such as animated videos, games, stories and interactive quizzes featuring characters from Disney including Lion King, Disney Princess, Frozen Cars and Toy Story.

The 37-year-old entrepreneur had set up Think & Learn in 2011, offering online lessons before launching his main app in 2015. The business has signed up more than 35 million subscribers of whom about 2.4 million pay an annual fee of Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000, helping it become profitable in the year ending March 2019. That was when Raveendran began courting long-term investors such as pension funds and sovereign wealth funds—his latest backer is the Qatar Investment Authority. In the latest funding round, the entrepreneur bought shares to maintain his equity level.

Online learning is booming in India where internet usage is exploding because of the ubiquity of cheap smartphones and low-price data plans. India’s online learning market is expected to more than double to $5.7 billion by 2020, according to the government-backed India Brand Equity Foundation.

Recently, BYJU's app replaced Oppo as Indian cricket team's official sponsor. "The BCCI is pleased to welcome India's leading education and learning app BYJU'S as the official Team India sponsor from 5th September, 2019 until 31st March, 2022," a BCCI statement said.