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Is Byju’s aiming at monopoly with the 1 billion dollar acquisition of Aakash?

Byju's is setting up a record fo acquiring the best of the startup sector and with the latest acquisition of Aakash Education

The education sector is rapidly changing. The way of education itself is changing, but at what rate? Is it alarming, or is it unprecedented? Over the year, India has been focusing on education. It is a sector so important yet valuable, and it has its exploit potentials as well. With schooling and all that legal composition of the system, some people also provide extra education, and they occur either from home or from a school or also called an institute. These function outside schools and provide students with weaker enthusiasm towards a particular subject. The tuition market is growing correspondingly with India’s legal education system, so it faces a backlash with the education system failures.

The rise in tuition facilities has been talked about earlier as well. It has been a tradition in the early course of days when students who didn’t score well enough would go to their friend’s house, or to a teacher who would teach them properly will complete individual attention thus enabling the student to hear it as also clear their doubts for their benefits. This led to the success of this new line of education. Later, it became a fashion, and all those students who weren’t strong enough with their core subjects would take up tuition. Today, in schools, the system has also been absorbed and remedial that similarly benefits the student.

Today, tuition facilities are expanding. There are tuition facilities like Aakash (1), Byju’s (2), Allen (3), and many more that have greatly grown to engage in franchisees and branding. Students move around with shirts with the logos of the tuition centers that act as a marketing technique. Now, it is the more academic students than ever that sign up for tuition experience. Today’s tuitions cover all competitive forms of exams like CET (4), IIT (5), AIIMS (6), NEET (7), etc., that encourage students to pursue higher studies like Engineering, Medicine, IAS, etc. The tradition of tuition centers like these is very strict and so focused on performance. Tuition centers like BYJU’s have been constantly on the news for their teaching style and providing material to all their students.

Considered as the best today, Byju’s isn’t stopping any soon. With the Facebook fundings and google fundings, they do not seem to slow down any soon. Their acquisition list is something that a startup entrepreneur can only dream of in their dreams! With a strong list fo acquisitions to date, the secure a huge chunk of the education business and the strong ones in fact that have the unique market capable of lodging better earnings and unlimited growth, and with the present acquisition of Aakash, which is also referred to as the biggest acquisition till date, the game only gets better for them as Aakash is considered as one of the leading providers of competitive educators in India.

The Acquisition

Byju’s signed an agreement to purchase one billion dollars from Aakash Educational Services Ltd, backed by Blackstone. India’s largest online education company, Byju, worth 12 billion dollars, was eager to grow as demand for online courses peaked during the pandemic. This agreement will be one of the largest edtech acquisitions in the world. With more than 200 physical education centers across the country, the Aakash Institute teaches students to access India’s elite medical and engineering colleges. These institutions have more than 2,50,000 students. Post-pandemic learning centers, both offline and physical, including schools and training institutions, have been successful while online courses have flourished (8).

According to reports, the Chaudhry family will leave as the founders of Aakash entirely, while Blackstone will exchange part of its 37.5 percent stake in Aakash for that of Byju. Byju, based in Bangalore, was founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran. After four years of growth and expansion, the company launched Byju’s: The Learning App in August 2015. The Byju app is intended for children in kindergarten through grade 12. India has about 250 million kindergartens for Grade 12 students. The app offers science and math educational material through video animations and games (9). According to Byju, more than seventy million users from over 1,700 cities across the country signed up last September when a fundraiser was announced. More than 4.5 million of them pay users. Sales are expected to double to a billion dollars in the current fiscal year ending March 2021.

In a statement, AESL stated that its founders, JC Chaudhry and Aakash Chaudhry, will continue to run the company along with its existing management team. “Putting these assumptions to rest, we would like to state that AESL is on a mission to build India’s largest digitally-enabled, omnichannel education organization. We will improve and grow our digital transformation and deliver exceptional value to our students. We will rapidly expand our omnichannel and digital offerings as we embark on the next trajectory of quality education and growth,” We remain true to our Founder’s motto of ‘Student First,’ enabling us to deliver long-term value to our students, employees, investors and other stakeholders,” he adds.

Several news reports have previously stated that the purchase agreement between Aakash and BYJU’S will be concluded in the next two to three months and that Aakash’s founders, the Chaudhry family, will be phased out, while the Blackstone Group, which backs AESL, will swap part of Aakash’s 37.5 percent equity for BYJU’s share. In 2017, BYJU acquired TutorVista from Pearson’s. It recently brought an online coding education platform, Whitehat Jr, to around 300 million dollars (10).

Building an empire

Since India imposed a lockdown across the country at the end of March, shutting down schools and other public places, Byju’s Bangalore-headquartered startup has emerged as one of the most important platforms for school-learning students in the world’s second-largest e-market. It took the startup about four years to get forty million students. Since the lockdown, its student user base has soared to 65 million, said Byju Raveendran, its co-founder, and chief executive officer at the Disrupt 2020 conference. Students say they were attracted to the Byju Platform because of the way they taught them subjects. Its startup is valued at nearly 11 billion dollars last week, making it India’s second most valuable startup (11), and it has a presence across several international markets. At the end of last year, Byju announced that it had also become profitable. It’s not every day that an Indian startup with any of these three characteristics, let alone the three in one.

Byju’s haven’t been looking to go public for at least two years, he said. “We have strong business ideologies; we have been able to find the right balance between high growth and sustainable growth, and we have created a very profitable model over such a short period. But we didn’t think about the public listing,” he added. And it seems that the investors in Byju’s are not in a hurry either. “We don’t need to make public listings to give way to some early investors because the company itself will generate enough income. A good number of them have already taken the money they have invested in the last few rounds,” he said. Byju’s raised more than 700 million dollars this year.

Raveendran initially implied that it aims to open a digital learning app for children in several English-speaking markets to expand globally. He said WhiteHat Jr. (12) would introduce math subjects to its offering to serve customers in several markets, including Australia, New Zealand. To make online learning a better reach to students and easily accessible, Byju’s made all its offerings available free of charge during the pandemic. But the platform’s pay-as-you-go subscribers, now more than 4 million, remain on a steady growth path, he said. This year, the startup expects to generate more than 1 billion in revenue from India, taking home profits from 150 million to 180 million.

Making an impact through education

Founded in 1998 by J C Chaudhry, a botany teacher, the 240 crores coaching company has more than sixty thousand students enrolled in its classroom programs and fifteen thousand others enrolled in its distant learning programs. Over the last five years, the company has had a high growth trajectory (growing 40 to 50 percent year on year, management claims) as it expands both the number of centers and their offerings. For example, iTutor, a specially designed tablet that comes pre-loaded with AESL’s entire curriculum, was launched in July 2012. Plus, priced at Rs 15000 to Rs 25000, it costs less than a third of the classroom program.

The Covid-19 lockdown has boosted the growth of the EdTech industry in India. Aakash Digital, the online learning platform of Aakash Educational Services Limited, the national leader in the field of test preparation, has seen a stunning 74 percent increase in its quarterly enrolments during the lockdown. The percentage increase is calculated by comparing the enrolment figures for the first quarter of 2020 with those for the second quarter of the year, i.e., pre-locking and lockdown. The impressive growth includes users’ growth in both the Aakash iTutor app and the Aakash Live Class (13).

Aakash Digital allows students to prepare for JEE, NEET, and grade 8 to 12 school, board, and competitive exams to get quality coaching at home. The edu-tech platform brings the literary heritage and discipline of the Aakash Institute to your home through online classes, recorded video lectures, and online tests. It encourages students who want the best of education but do not have access due to geographical reasons or any so other reasons.

Byju’s acquisitions

BYJU’S made nine acquisitions and one investment. The company has spent more than 427 million dollars on acquisitions. BYJU has invested in several sectors such as K-12 EdTech, Gaming Tech, Mom & Baby Care, and more. Acquired Unitus Ventures-backed LabInApp for an undisclosed amount of money. LabInApp offers science lab simulation on mobile devices, curating interactive and immersive learning experiences for students and teachers. Acquired Mumbai, headquartered in White Hat Jr., at the cost of 300 million dollars. Founded in 2018 by Karan Bajaj, White Hat Jr teaches online coding to students through live lessons and interactive classes. Osmo, based in the United States, acquired 120 million. Osmo is famous for its blended learning games designed for children aged 3 to 8 years. They have been instrumental in creating ‘play-based learning’ for young children.

Math Adventures helps children learn through a combination of short videos and an activity-based approach using workbooks and tablets. Acquired TutorVista, Pearson’s Edurite. It is one of the largest online tutoring brands for school and college students in the United States. Vidyartha offers a customized data-driven, full-fledged assessment platform that goes beyond the student’s report card and evaluates their interests, personality traits, and abilities. Develops a personalized learning plan for students to maximize their performance and scores.