The philanthropic Foundation by Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan- the Chan- Zuckerberg Initiative–a company whose aim is to ‘advance human potential and promote equality’, has announced its first biggest investment in an Indian startup by leading a $50 million round of funding in education technology company, Byju’s.
On Thursday, Zuckerberg came out with the news on his facebook wall, saying “As part of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Priscilla and I are investing in an Indian education technology company we’re excited about called BYJU’s”
The Chan-Zuckerberg foundation, valued the Bengaluru-based, startup Byju’s, primarily registered as Think & Learn Private Limited, at about $470 million, or Rs 3,200 crore, according to two people familiar with the development.
The year-old startup has received over $150 million in funding as it prepares to launch its mobile app-based learning platform in overseas markets. The founders also confirmed, the startup has recently gained a lot interest from various investors overseas.
“Byju’s is in talks with several other investors, including World Bank arm IFC and Google Capital and could raise more capital as a part of this round.”
The current round of investment includes existing backer Sequoia Capital, along with Sofina, Lightspeed Ventures and none other than the digital arm of Times Group newspaper- Times Internet Ltd.
Noting that Indian families work hard to give their children education for a better future, CZI’s Vivian Wu expressed that Byju’s represents an opportunity to help more students develop love for learning and unlock their potential.
“Education can give young people and their families a path to a better future, and families in India work hard to give their children that chance. Byju’s represents an opportunity to help even more students develop a love for learning and unlock their potential,” said Vivian Wu, board member of Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.
The startup, which has already marked its presence in the Indian and Middle East markets, is soon to be expanded in the USA, UK, South Africa and other the African and Commonwealth markets, as well.
Byju’s, initially started in 2011 as a test preparation interactive- classes portal, helping CAT aspirants crack the exam. Further, expandeding into other competitive exams and for many years operated through physical classrooms. It also moved on to video classes a few years ago. But the big explosion in reach happened with the launch of a mobile app last year. The learning app saw over 5.5 million downloads and 250,000 paid annual subscribers within a year of its launch. The app helps in effective learning programmes for students from classes 4 to 12 and competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT.
“We are really excited to welcome an investment from Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative into Byju’s, as the company continues on its mission of empowering everyone who aspires to learn. Together, the platforms will enable greater reach for a high quality product developed by a great team.” said Satyan Gajwani, Vice Chairman, Times Internet.