India is one of those countries where people are very particular about their education. Even today, qualifications, degrees, and certificates hold more value than the skillsets a person possesses. Be it the primary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate level of studies, for a large proportion of students, it is merely about cramming the concepts for the sake of examinations, and forgetting it all, once they have passed the examinations. Hence, we all would agree that the knowledge we gain during our studies is short-lived. So, it gets in vain after a certain period of time.
Image Source – RVCG Media
LET’S TAKE A QUICK DEMO TO PROVE THAT. CAN YOU TELL, WHAT THE FIGURE GIVEN BELOW IS CALLED?
Now, most of you will term it as a ‘line’ but let me tell you that it is not a line. Rather it is a line segment. Sounds perplexing? This is because of the lack of clarity of concepts from the early age itself that we are not even able to answer such basic questions.
Indian students have been conditioned to attend one-way communication classes, where the pace of the teacher might not match with the pace of all the students present in the class, and at times, students feel like everything is going off their head. If we look at the situation from the perspective of a teacher, practically, it is not feasible even for the instructor to take care of every single child.
EARLY DAYS OF RAVEENDRAN BYJU – Raveendran Byju’s Ladder To Success
Fortunately, we are living in the 21st century where the ed-tech sector is flourishing at a rapid rate. Talking about the ed-tech sector in India, if there is one name that every household is familiar with, is hands down, Byju’s,-The Learning app. This platform has changed the way of learning outright.
The man behind this unicorn startup, Raveendran Byju was born in a small village of Azhikode, Kerala in 1980. During his school days, he was more inclined towards sports. This further inculcated the team and leadership skills in him. He continued playing six different sports including football, cricket, table tennis, and badminton at the university level. Later on, he pursued B.Tech i.e. mechanical engineering from Government Engineering College in Kannur, Kerala, and went on to work in a multinational shipping firm as a service engineer.
With no aspirations of being an entrepreneur, Raveendran was content with his exciting job. It allowed him to travel around new places and explore the world.
After the course of two years of working, Raveendran headed back to his home for a brief holiday. Some of his friends, appearing for CAT asked to assist with math’s questions. Not only Byju assisted his friends in their preparation, but he himself appeared for the exam as well. To his surprise, he scored 100 percentile but with no aspirations to pursue the MBA, he went back to resume his job.
THE ADVENT OF BYJU
In 2005, Raveendran was again on a holiday for the tenure of 6 weeks. CAT aspirants approached him this time as well. This time the number rose to around 1000 students. Initially, Byju was rendering free classes but the students who further developed an affinity towards his teaching method even started paying for the advanced classes.
Meanwhile, a realization hit Byju that he was thoroughly enjoying the whole process of teaching. The rewards, in the form of good performance by his students, was even more fulfilling. Hence, he decided to quit his hefty paying job to pursue his passion. Soon Byju was travelling to different cities addressing packed auditoriums.
With soaring demand, Raveendran recorded his first video lecture to serve the cities in which he could not travel. Over time, he became the most sought-after teacher. His students now referred to his lectures as Byju’s classes by his students. In 2011, a handful of his students from IIM put forward an idea to start his own company. Thus he commenced his first company, “Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd.” with a team of around 25-30 people.
While he was teaching CAT aspirants, he noticed a lack of conceptual clarity among his students. He felt a need a strong foundation in formative years of any child. Therefore, he decided to curate content only for school students. Thereby ensuring a proper foundation from the early years itself.
“Our content is very contextual and visual. Instead of focusing on the whats of learning, we pay attention to the whys and hows as well.”~ pointed out Byju on how his content accentuates more on in-depth knowledge about the concepts
With scores of positive responses pouring in, he launched Byju’s – The Learning App. Within a period of one year, they witnessed 5.5 million downloads with 250,000 plus students using it on an annual subscription basis. Besides that, they had an observation that students spent an average of 40 minutes in a single session. 90 per cent of the students who came on board the previous year renewed their subscription. Thereby, indicating the fact that they have gained value from the learning curriculum.
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Every time, a student visits Byju’s interface, the company seeks his/her details. Thereon, it offers 15 days of a free trial. Post which, as per interests, the student is required to choose a course. During the course, the company makes it a point to have one to one contact with the child. Besides the paid courses, Byju’s has its own line of products in the form of tablets.
It entails videos, tests, practise questions, quizzes, etc. inbuilt for the course that the student has opted.
BEHIND’S COMPANY MASSIVE EXPANSION, INVESTMENTS HAVE ALSO PLAYED A PIVOTAL ROLE IN ACCELERATING ITS GROWTH. BYJU GOT ITS FIRST INVESTMENT THAT WAS WORTH AROUND $6 MILLION (50 CRORES) FROM MOHANDAS AND RANJAN PAI. THEY BOTH WERE AMAZED WATCHING STUDENTS ATTENDING VIDEO LECTURES IN LARGE NUMBERS.
Post which, Byju’s became the first company in Asia to receive funding from Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, a joint initiative by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan in the year 2016. Besides that, Byju was able to attract many more investors, i.e. Tiger Global Management, General Atlantic, Tencent Holdings, Prosus & Naspers, to name a few.
One of the biggest accomplishments for the company was around March 2017. Byju’s case study was featured in Harvard Business School. That was the time when the thought of serving overseas through the platform struck Byju.
Consequently, the company is now working towards expanding globally to other countries and seeking apt partners to enable this expansion.
By now, the company has acquired, Vidyartha, India’s first comprehensive learning guidance platform, Tutor Vista, Edurite, Maths Adventure. US-based ed-tech company Osmo is one of its latest acquisition in2019.
Additionally, the company has carved out aggressive advertising strategies to bring its presence on the radar of students. Shahrukh Khan, one of the most promising actors of Bollywood is the brand ambassador of Byju’s -The Learning App. It is one of the leading ed-tech company among its competitors like Meritnation.com, Vedantu, Teachable, Khan Academy, and Toppr.
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Looking back, Raveendran Byju was a boy hailing from a small village in Kerala. His involvement in sports during his early life has ingrained life skills in him. He learned, from how to lead a team to how to perform under pressure. Moreover, he learned the value of having a positive spirit irrespective of defeat. These life skills, Byju could never have learned if he had resorted to his monotonous lectures, became his strength in his entrepreneurial journey.
The key takeaway from his story is quite unequivocal. All his life, he has done the things which he has loved doing. Being someone whose father was a communist, money was never a priority for Byju. He had never aspired to be an entrepreneur. It was his passion that drove him to start something which can influence the lives of millions. It was the fulfilment he derived from the performance of his students that pushed him to expand exponentially.
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In the words of Raveendran Byju ~ “chasing money has never been a priority for me, but giving back to society is. That’s why i take care of the education and healthcare of the underprivileged in my village. I grew up there and I feel it is my duty to help others come up in life.”
It is quite evident when your intent is giving back, you are certainly heading on the right path. This is because eventually, it is only the values that are left behind. Hence, it continues to inspire the generations in the years to come.