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Education

Byju's buys exam coaching startup in India edtech push

Online education company has been on shopping spree this year

Indian online education company Byju's is valued at $16.5 billion, according to CB Insights. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

MUMBAI -- Indian online education company Byju's has bought exam training startup Gradeup for an undisclosed amount in its fifth acquisition of the year, ramping up its push into a rapidly growing market.

Byju's, which is backed by New York-based investment company Tiger Global, said the move would broaden its business, allowing it to offer online coaching in everything from postgraduate entrance exams to tests for jobs in banking or the government.

Demand for edtech, or educational technology, has been booming in India, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to spend more time at home. Transaction advisory firm RBSA Advisors expects the sector to surge to a size of around $300 billion over the next decade, a huge jump from about $800 million now.

Gradeup, which is being rebranded as Byju's Exam Prep, claims to be India's largest online exam training site, used by over 30 million students.

"Gradeup has already proved its mettle and we are excited to join forces," said Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju's, which is formally known as Think & Learn.

The acquisition comes after Byju's spent around $1 billion earlier this year buying bricks-and-mortar exam preparation center Aakash Educational Services, which targets would-be engineering and medical students. Other purchases include Gret Learning for $600 million and US-based edtech startup Epic for $500 million, both in July.

Byju's, valued at $16.5 billion by CB Insights, counts Naspers, General Atlantic, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and Silver Lake as investors, along with Tiger Global. It said it had over 80 million users at the start of 2021, with around 5.5 million paid subscribers.

The company's shopping spree has been underpinned by over $1 billion it received from investors last year, while UBS Group, Blackstone, and B Capital Group pumped in around $1.5 billion earlier in 2021.

RBSA Advisors estimates the Indian edtech sector has attracted a total of around $4 billion in private equity investment over the last 5 years.

"The pandemic has been a shot in the arm of edtech and we strongly believe that the current edtech product landscape will keep on evolving with new products focusing on providing more customized and personalized learning experience for users," Rajeev R. Shah, Managing Director and CEO at RBSA, said in an April report.

"The opportunity is enormous and we are currently only scratching the surface of meeting the learning needs of around 430 million Indian diaspora," he continued.

There are currently nearly 7,500 edtech startups in India, according to Tracxn, with Byju's up against the likes of Unacademy, UpGrad, Vedantu, and Eruditus.

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