Byju’s, Indian edtech decacorn, is considering an initial public offering over the next 18-24 months, the company’s founder Byju Raveendran has said, adding his firm was in no hurry.
In an interview with Mint, the 40-year-old entrepreneur said considering the growth of the company both organically and through acquisitions, going public was a clear option. He said the IPO will just be a milestone for the company and a step towards building a business that sustains for decades.
On Monday, Byju’s announced the acquisition of the 33-year-old Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) for about $1 billion. Aakash is a large chain of physical coaching centres for competitive exams such as NEET and IIT-JEE, something India’s second most valuable startup is also focussed on now.
Like many other companies in the ed-tech sector, Byju’s, too, has reaped benefits following the boom after COVID-19 compelled students to take online classes. The company is now valued at $13 billion, showing a jump of $5 billion since January 2020.
Speaking of the acquisition of Aakash, Raveendran said Byju’s were exploring or developing a “hybrid model” which includes both online and offline learning. Building such a model ground up would take nearly 2-3 years and maybe 5 years to show the results, he said and therefore the decision to acquire Aakash.
“For test prep, it is difficult to replicate the rigour and intensity of competitive exams online. You need a group studying environment and some interactions with teachers during preparation, which can only be achieved through offline play,” he told the English daily.
Byju’s had also acquired WhiteHat Jr, India’s top app for online coding and mathematics, at $300 million last year. Raveendran said Byju’s was looking at a few acquisitions to expand internationally, but will first strengthen itself further for test preparation and with the purchase of Aakash, the company has taken a step in that direction. Raveendran says test prep is a big segment in India. “There is another big opportunity with regard to the ‘upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’ segment and to disrupt university degree courses through online,” he added.