India has a new startup Unicorn ready to burst quickly in the bulging Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ed-tech startup Unacademy announced on Wednesday that it raised a whopping $150 million from Japan’s SoftBank, which invested from its Vision Fund 2. The Facebook backed firm is now valued at $1.45 billion, tripling its valuation in less than six months.
“Our goal always has been to democratize knowledge and make it more affordable and accessible by getting the best experts of the world to help everyone achieve their goals,” Gauraj Munjal, co-founder and chief executive officer, Unacademy tweeted. The list of existing investors include eminent names like Facebook, General Atlantic, and Sequoia. Gaurav Munjal led Unacademy had raised money at a valuation of $510 million in February earlier this year.
Unacademy Group has raised $150M in a round led by Softbank valuing us at $1.45B post the funding. Great to have them onboard as a partner in our journey.
Our existing investors General Atlantic, Sequoia India, Nexus, Facebook and Blume also participated in the round.
— Gaurav Munjal (@gauravmunjal) September 2, 2020
The Banaglore based startup is known for helping students prepare for competitive exams and prepares them to get into a good college. It is also available for professionals who want to enroll in graduate or post-graduate level skill based certification courses. Students can watch the classes live through the Unacademy App and can also engage in live discussions or doubt clearing sessions later.
Last year, the startup launched a subscription service that offers students access to all live classes. The platform, which has 30 million registered users, has amassed more than 350,000 paying subscribers.
In recent months, the startup has held several online interviews of high-profile individuals, such as Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, on various topics, which helped Munjal’s Unacademy expand its appeal beyond its student base. Unacademy is now India’s second-most valued edtech startup after Byju’s, which is valued at $10.5 billion. Unacademy plans to utilize the funds to launch new products and grow the organization further.
The edtech startup recently launched a chess category with grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, which has already amassed 1,000 subscribers. In the next two weeks, Unacademy aims to start a programme in partnership with Codechef, which will help engineering students to become better coders and programmers.
The deal will be a first for Japan’s Softbank in the ed-tech space. This comes at a time when the entire education system is riddled with the question of a new normal amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The Masayoshi Son-led investment firm has over the past year slowed down new bets globally. The last major investment marked by Softbank was in December, when it invested about $275 million in eyewear retailer Lenskart.
Indian Families tend to spend exponentially for their children’s education in hopes for a better future. Even as most Indians tend not to pay for online services, Education is one segment where they don’t like to compromise with quality for even a little bit. Due to this reason, the education sector has seen some major disruptions in the past few months. Deals made by Ed-tech startups like Eruditus, Toppr and Vedantu have significantly raised the market share held by these applications.
“By bringing quality education to a vast network of students for the first time, Unacademy is bridging the privilege gap,” said Munish Varma, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers.
Unacademy started out as a Youtube channel by Co-founder and CEO Gaurav Munjal back in 2010. He started the youtube channel to clear doubts he faced while coding during his engineering days. He got a phenomenal response. He was then joined by Co-Founder Roman Saini, former IAS and a MBBS degree holder and Hemesh Singh and the trio took off making their dream of a seamless education platform into a reality.
Unacademy claims it has 30 million registered users, 350,000 paying subscribers and over 18,000 registered educators. The company said that in the past three months of the lockdown, paid subscriber base and average daily watch time across all its platform has doubled. The monthly watch time minutes also reached an all-time high of over 2 billion.