BYJU: The Indian Tech Giant that Slowly Reshapes World’s Education
Incorporating technology to improve learning methods has always been a challenge for scientists. Fortunately, some of them are gifted with brilliance and ingenuity, which allows them to spearhead and speed development in specific industries.
This is the story of how one boy set the foundation of using mobile devices to allow access to scientific, educational materials. Thanks to his efforts, learning math and science became much easier.
Byju Raveendran is an Indian entrepreneur who made billions through his passion to help children learn. By educating millions of students aged 10-18, this brilliant man transformed the way people study, allowing everyone to understand, learn faster, and study more efficiently.
From helping school mates pass exams, to educating millions - Byju gave students everywhere a better way to learn science and math through creating the BYJU’s Learning app, and made billions in the process - all while improving national test scores.
These are just bits of a story that will go down in history books. Read more about it here:
Byju, The Little Genius
This billionaire comes from a humble family, living in the Azhikode, a village in India. He showed signs of high intelligence from an early age, as well as an ability to communicate ideas. This talent was continuously nurtured by his parents, and teachers in his elementary school.
Byju’s ability to acquire and effectively transfer knowledge to others was first put to use when he was an 8th grader, teaching 12th graders math and sciences subjects so they can pass their exams.
From the get-go, he noticed that the teenage attention span was really short, and it was hard to keep them engaged and attentive in classes. To fight this, Byju used visual representations of real-life scenarios.
In a short time, he noticed that his new method works, allowing all of his friends to get amazing grades. As more and more students in the school asked for his help, Byju offered his services to everyone for free, not knowing that he was taking the first step towards building himself into an educational guru.
Choosing the Right Path
Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life at 18 can be very hard for teenagers, and many of them make mistakes with varying degrees of severity. Future ed-tech billionaire Byju decided on becoming a mechanical engineer after finishing high school, dreaming of a career in an industry that was booming at that time. Ignoring his real passion, he finished college in 2001, and quickly got his first job as a globetrotter engineer in a Singapore shipyard.
During the next four years, Byju stayed at his job, visiting his parents back in India only during holidays. And since everyone is home for the holidays, he used the time to help some of his old friends prepare for the hard admission tests used for getting into elite schools.
Once, he took one of these tests for fun, just to see if he could get into the school. He ended up in the top 1% without preparing himself beforehand. Several weeks after, his friends called him, saying they also scored high, saying that they know many others that would gladly pay for his teaching classes.
This reminded Byju of his passion for teaching, leading him to start thinking about changing his profession - and in a flash, he was back on the right track!
Always Listen to Your Heart
At first, Byju was scared of choosing one of the three options ahead of him: go back to work, start teaching, or join the best Indian institute for Business Management.
At this crucial point in his story, Byju chose to listen to his heart, and shortly after returning to India in 2005, he began teaching business applicants. This was the step he needed to take - and he went all-in!
Through recommendations of his previous students, Byju’s class began with 35 students. His brilliance and special methods impressed his students so much that in six weeks, he had 1,200 of them! To accommodate everyone, he moved his class to an auditorium.
But soon, even that wasn’t enough. Word got around about his teaching power, and by 2008, Byju was filling auditoriums in 9 cities.
Trying to reach more people in 2009, Byju decided to take his lectures and start distributing them through satellite radio, but little did he know that this decision would give him an epiphany on how to change the world.
So what happened?
Hundreds of thousands of people began following his lessons over the satellite radio. Byju was taken aback by the sheer number of students with no basic understanding of science and math. This quickly made him realize that the cause of the problem weren’t the students: the archaic education system was at fault for holding onto old teaching methods, incapable of retaining the students’ attention.
Byju began thinking if his visual and interactive teaching method could be helpful and adapted for young children.
The Start of India’s Largest Ed-Tech Giant
In 2011, Byju founded Think and Learn Private Ltd, using the little money he had saved. What he lacked in funding, he subsidized with the talent of his best students who immediately joined his venture.
Their first product was a video-based lecture pack with animations, helping explain certain subjects better. Thanks to Byju’s reputation as an excellent educator, the software gained thousands of users, allowing his startup to grow fast.
After receiving the 2012 Deloitte Technology Award for being in the Top 50 fastest growing companies in India, Byju was confident he was on the right track, and that it was time to take the company to the next level!
Creating a Billion-Dollar Education Business
Looking to make the next big revolution in ed-tech, Byju decided to create an interactive phone app, giving every student a chance to excel at school subjects with little effort.
Since every big idea needs a big bag of dollar bills, Byju prepared a presentation to show the potential of his idea - and took it directly to the chairman of Manipal Group, an organization dealing with education and healthcare investment.
The billionaire chairman of the group, although impressed by Byju’s passion for teaching, was completely surprised when the young entrepreneur asked for $8 million to create the app. After careful consideration, he recognized Byju’s talent, and gave him the money for a 26% stake in the company in the second half of 2012.
Armed with the means to turn his idea into reality, Bujy began working with his students on creating the best educational app in the world.
After several years in production, the Byju’s Learning App was launched in August 2015.
It was an instant hit.
Nobody expected that the number of downloads would double daily, reaching 2 million unique users in the first 3 months, making it the top self-improvement app in India for 2016.
This success allowed Byju to get more funding, and in 2017 he launched Byju’s Math App and Byju’s Parent Connect App. The latter was a genius move because it allowed parents to monitor their child’s progress in the learning process.
Along with his freemium model, where the first 15 days of using the apps are free, this led to more than 15 million downloads and almost a million paid subscribers by the end of 2018. Talk about retention!
With this notch under his belt, getting an additional round of funding wasn’t a problem for Byju. Everyone wanted to get on board and help transform the edu-tech sector, and the investment doors sprung wide open!
The Mission Forward
Focused on improving his product, Byju bought Osmo in 2018. It was a company that specialized in teaching young children various subjects through games. This technology was swiftly incorporated into Byju’s apps and further increased the quality of their offered courses.
In early 2020, Byju wanted to invent a new teaching method, so he bought WhiteHat Jr - a 2-year-old startup offering one-on-one classes between users and dedicated tutors.
Incorporating Byju’s Learning Courses with WhiteHat Jr’s service allowed for the trained tutors to use Byju’s interactive visuals. The results of this fusion were so promising, they led Buju to think of expanding in western markets.
Now, the west awaits an educational rebirth. In August 2020, Byju, as CEO of the $5.1 billion ed-tech giant, has officially put the prime focus of the company on providing the same service for the US, Canada, and Australia.
Byju is on the right path to completely transform not just the Indian education system, but the entire global concept of education. Bravo!