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BYJU’S, making millions fall in love with learning

To make millions fall in love with learning.

This core tenet is the driving force of the Edutech Powerhouse known as Byju’s. The company is one of the few in the world to achieve DECACORN status. In business jargon, a DECACORN is any company valued at over $10 billion. A start-up, started as a bit more than a dream by a couple with a passion for teaching and education has grown into a powerhouse valued at over 2800 crores. The story of Byju’s is surprisingly similar and can be familiar to almost any youngster in the country. You create a start-up, invest your time and money in it, and hope for it to succeed. But what differs in Byju’s and the thousands of other start-ups in India is its colossal growth. This article examines how Byju’s began and why is its success so relevant even in today’s Pandemic dominated world and market

Founded by Byju’s Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath in 2011, Byju’s is educational technology, or Edutech company mainly focussed on providing Mathematical, scientific, and English-Language related instruction to students across India. It started as Think and Learn, an app providing video-based learning programs for children from the k-12 demographic and competitive entrance exams. In 2012, the company entered the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific ratings, specifically recognizing the fastest-growing tech companies in India and Asia. 

 In August 2015, nearly four years post-launch, the company launched the App it later became synonymous with. Byju’s, named after the owner Byju Raveendran, aimed at conceptual and visual learning, which was and still is a revolutionary concept for many Indians, whose entire education is based on rote memorizing and learning for exams. Raveendran believed that if children are engagingly taught basic math and science, they can absorb and grasp it easily, rather than mug up concepts or formulae. Learning is an intrinsic process, according to Raveendran, and spoon-feeding anyone is not going to help them grasp the skill 

The subject is trying to teach. Making children consider their lessons to be enjoyable rather than an obligation will instill a love for the subject in children, which will help them in the future should they choose to pursue a career in the subject. This was the philosophy that Raveendran followed and built on, and it worked. The success of Byju’s proves how an innovative idea and an innovative approach to something rendered tedious in today’s times can make even the simplest ideas into Multi-billion dollar companies.

Born in a small town called Azhikode located on the coast of western Kerala, Byju Raveendran was born to a family that prioritized education. His mother is a physics teacher, and his father is a maths teacher. Like any small-town boy, he grew up, causing trouble and playing cricket, Table tennis, and soccer. His natural aptitude in Mathematics and the Sciences inculcated a love for engineering in him, and his sporty persona crafted his competitive side.

In time, he gained enough skill in mathematics that he began tutoring his friends for the CAT, the eligibility test for the most prestigious business schools in India, the IIM’s. For curiosity’s sake, he decided to take the exam himself, and to his immense surprise scored the 100th percentile. Considering it to be a fluke, he took it again and again, got the 100th percentile.

Despite this score, he turned down his seat at the institute and instead began to offer his services to tutoring aspirants. His coaching classes’ popularity skyrocketed, and before long, he began to teach over-crowded venues filled with students as if to witness a concert or show, but instead of music, they were here to witness a master at work, whose innovative methods managed to make even maths a game

The gift Raveendran has is his ability to teach concepts instead of solving problems. Indeed, his students were said to have said this about him “He has an uncanny ability to teach you complicated concepts with lucid visuals that help you understand everything from a first-principles perspective.”

In his years of teaching, something like lightning struck him when he realized that many students he taught lacked foundational skills in core subjects like maths and science, as up until now, his students had only been introduced to solve problems, not to understand and dissect them. This persists as a common problem in India, where several studies have shown the lack of problem-solving skills and logical reasoning in Indian students

In his own words, Raveendran says, “Our product is built on that strong belief that when students learn on their own, where they take the initiative, whatever you call learning, that counts for 50%. Unfortunately, today it’s 100% spoon-feeding in many students’ cases, 100% learning for exams, and not the other way around. The other way around are you learning such that exams are taken care of. They are just part of the process and not the end of it,”

In his system, he and his wife Divya develop content to make learning exciting and fun rather than a chore. They also managed to break through to the parents of the children they wanted to target by making their App user-friendly and interactive, making it easy for parents to monitor the child’s progress. Another innovative approach focuses on individual learning programs and growth, and Byju does this by building a personalized learning plan for their consumer. Algorithms work by learns which concepts a student may need more practice at and adjusts learning plans accordingly.

The financial aspect of Byju’s success story is also surprisingly successful. In the words of InnoVen Capital India managing director, Vinod Murali, What Byju has done really, really well and why he is getting all this love from the market is because he cracked the commerce part of the question very, very successfully. It’s not like other people are not doing this, but they are doing it differently. Byju’s is maybe more than a year ahead in terms of business volumes, and that’s showing,”

The Founder and Manager Director of Khetal Advisors, Kunal Walia, has this to say about Byju’s: “There is deep learning and deep brand visibility that gets built when you are an offline company, to begin with. For you to transition to online, it becomes simpler because there is some recall factor there, and people view that as one of the experts in the domains. That brand elasticity of moving from offline and expanding to online is what served Byju’s considerably, along with obviously the content,”

All of this, along with the simplicity of Byju’s model, is a testament to the model’s success. It shows us that innovation can start in the simplest of places, and in doing so, can make miracles out of seemingly simple ideas. The story of a simple Engineer from Azhikode and a Bangalore techie who dreamed of bringing educational technology to the masses is a testament to how hard work and creativity can make any enterprise worth the name of a Decacorn.

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Allwyn Mathew
Allwyn Mathew
Founder and the Associate Publisher of Business Review Live. A Business graduate from the renowned University of Wales, UK, having worked in the UK and the Middle East has a keen interest in the global business media. A Certified Social Media Marketing Specialist from the Northwestern University, USA. Within his short career, he represented major industrial, lifestyle, and business media portfolios.