In 2017, Byju’s app became a case study at Harvard Business School. At an event once, CEO Raveendran said that his startup had “positively disrupted the segment,”. There’s no doubt it has, but it comes with consequences.
Byju’s tap into India’s educational sector which has 260 million children in K-12 and another 35 million in higher education is a phenomenal success story. With 4 million registered users and 2.8 million active paid subscriptions, Byju’s reported a revenue of USD 188.8 million constituting USD 2.8 million net profit in the financial year 2018- 2019.
Parents are willing to let their children learn in an interactive digital manner – and more than willing to pay for it. The Bangalore based educational technology (ed-tech) startup Byju’s, is a brand held by Think and Learn Pvt Ltd, owned by trained engineer Byju Raveendran who launched the app in 2015. The company’s transition in 2016 established the brand as 100 per cent online.
Byju’s Credentials today
A fresh injection of USD 200 million by private equity firm General Atlantic, an existing investor, has pushed up Byju’s value to USD 8.2 billion making it the world’s largest ed-tech company.
Moving forward, Byju’s is aiming to increase its revenue twofold to USD 422 million in March 2020. Narayanan Ramaswamy, partner, national lead, education and skilling, notes for Live Mint, “Byju’s has become a poster boy…and has shown that the model is commercially viable.”
But can we conclude being the highest valued ed-tech startup, Byju’s can potentially monopolize the education technology industry or serve as an alternative to the after-school coaching industry in India for that matter?
Is Byju’s the Right Way of Learning?
Byju’s use of Disney characters and cartoon videos during the learning sessions breaks the monotony and enhances engagement with the learners. In fact, it is a saviour for working parents and those who home-school their children.
However, the same visual explanation might not be as helpful in teaching trigonometry and physics to high school students. Byju’s is inefficient in teaching long concepts and lengthy topics. It consumes more time than usual to complete a topic through videos which is one of the disadvantages of Byju’s video learning.
Byju’s – Appropriate Substitute for Tuition Classes?
Tuition provides an interactive learning atmosphere where students get individual attention and can also clear their innocent doubts. Byju’s learning experience, although advantageous in most cases, can still be seen as a hindrance to one’s social skills.
Lack of human interaction in Byju’s e-learning process hampers overall growth and personality development. Moreover, it is not as flexible as per the varying needs of individual students. On the other hand, tutors help them to finish their homework and they gain the habit of regularity by going to tuition classes.
Byju’s Pricing and Comparison
Byju’s functions on a freemium model wherein some videos are offered free for trial but most of the content is paid. The cost of Maths and Science curriculum of class 4 – 10 is INR 25000 for each class. It is a little overpriced for both urban and rural India when compared to traditional tuition charges.
The tuition fees vary from INR 500 to INR 1500 per month in rural and urban cities respectively. Byju’s combo of Class 11 + 12 with JEE Main and NEET preparation also can be streamed for INR 85000. In comparison, the same can cost up to 3.5 – 4 lakhs at private coaching centres like Aakash and Target PMT.
Byju’s and The Competition
Byju’s IAS 2020 Prelims and Mains tablet course range from INR 75000 – 82500 whereas the price of Unacademy Pendrive courses for IAS 2020 is available for INR 19500. Though both Unacademy and Byju’s use the freemium business model, the former offers more free content and charges only for its premium features.
It is preferred over Byju’s for competitive exams preparation while Byju’s has negligible competition in the K-12 market. Students comfortable in online coaching opt for Unacademy for JEE Main and NEET preparation because of its affordability. But Byju’s justifies its pricing by interactive learning and better visual explanation which is not offered in conventional coaching classes.
Byju’s Revolutionizing Rural Education Sector
More than 60% of the paid subscription base of Byju’s belongs to non-metro cities proving that Byju’s is a stopgap to the unavailability of good tutors in rural India. Lakhs of students move to big cities in search of high-class coaching. Food, accommodation, utilities, coaching fees and other expenses burn a hole in their pockets.
Byju’s with its promise of bringing world-class teaching to India’s education sector has reached out to girls who aspire to study but lack the environment to be able to do so. Digital literacy and accessibility have also been advantageous for Byju’s to widen its market in small towns and villages.
The Future of Byju’s
There is a whopping difference in Byju’s and its competitors’ pricing for similar services. Money matters to Indians and the education industry is a highly elastic market meaning the consumer base favours low prices irrespective of its quality.
With its huge funding, Byju’s also has an edge over its competitors and it can sustain for a longer period at a no loss no profit situation. Much like Reliance Jio, Byju’s too can monopolize the market and kill its competition by its constant price revision and increment in the user base. Finally, Byju’s market adjusting tactics with its initiative to launch the content in regional languages can be an absolute game-changer in India’s education sector.