The learning app provider BYJU’s, which describes itself as India’s largest education company, announced it has taken in $540 million in new investment with plans to make a concerted push to sell its product in the U.S. and British education markets.
The lead investor in the massive funding round is Naspers, a global internet and entertainment group. A big portion of the investment is also being contributed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the largest retirement funds in the world.
The new money will support an aggressive international expansion, as well as investments in technology. In a statement to EdWeek Market Brief, BYJU’s Founder and CEO Byju Raveendran said the company will be making its first-ever attempts to bring its tech-delivered lessons to the United States and Britain.
BYJU’s was founded in 2011 and it launched its learning-based app four years later, said Raveendran. He is frank about the company’s ambitions: He wants to make it the “world’s largest education company.”
Since its founding, BYJU’s focus has been on growing in the India market, and it says it has achieved 30 million downloads, 2 million annual paid subscriptions, and 64 minutes spent per student on the app each day. The product will appeal to users in the United States, too, Raveendran predicted.
“There are no products like BYJU’s learning app, which can reach out to such a large number of students and create great engagement at the same time,” he said. “We strongly believe that such a product can come out of India. We have the required talent and capabilities which can create a product for students across the globe.”
It’s unclear how BYJU’s learning app product and its strategy might differ in serving parents and other users in the United States and Britain, where the educational demands, tech infrastructure, and school and family spending power are much different than in India.
BYJU’s delivers lessons organized by grade and courses via apps that deliver content by video, loaded with animation and other features. It also offers learning programs focused on preparation for a variety of exams. The company says the app is designed to be tailored to the individual needs of students, a goal that holds appeal in the U.S. and internationally, where business campaigns promising to “personalize learning” pervade the market.
One of the overriding goals of the product is give more students access to high-quality teaching delivered through the technology, and to give them access to lessons that are rich and engaging, said Raveedran. BYJU’s technology will give students across countries greater access for developing an array of skills they will need to thrive in job markets that are constantly changing, he added.
“Parents and students are now more open than ever to explore new-age learning solutions that can strengthen conceptual understanding and evoke love for learning in their children,” he said.
The funding from Naspers, based in Cape Town, South Africa, is just the latest raked in by BYJU’s. One of its more prominent funders is the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the limited-liability company founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. Other investors have included Sequoia Capital and China-based Tencent.
Naspers’ head of international investments, Russell Dreisenstock, said in a statement to the media that his company was convinced that BYJU’s has the potential to grow in India and other markets.
India has a population of 1.3 billion, nearly 30 percent of whom are under the age of 15. Its public education system serves an estimated 113 million students—more than double that of the United States—and its private school sector is gigantic, enrolling another 60 million.
“Naspers partners with high-potential companies that are tackling big societal needs like education, which represents a significant sector ripe for disruption across the globe,” Dreisenstock said in the statement. “We partnered with BYJU’s because we believe the company’s success in India will translate across borders in any country where students are looking for an innovative and engaging form of education beyond the classroom.”