Byju Raveendran: The Story of a Billionaire

From the young boy who helped his friends pass exams, to the billionaire he is today, Byju Reveendran has transformed the Edtech landscape.

Born in 1981 in the Azhikode village of Kerala, India, Byju Raveendran is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BYJU’s, an edtech start-up. After graduating in B.Tech, he worked as a service engineer in a multinational shipping firm. Back then, he used to teach mathematics to his friends and helped students prepare for entrance exams like CAT. Exemplifying a brilliant mind, he scored a 100 percent twice in the Common Admission Test (CAT) examination in two consecutive attempts. Two years later, he decided to take up teaching as a permanent job. He started by giving students a free seven-day-trial, post which he charged a fee. Gradually, from a few friends to classrooms to auditoriums with hundreds of kids and satellite communication, Raveendran’s journey has become an inspiration for many entrepreneurs. 

Teacher Turned Entrepreneur: Reaching Students Virtually

His friends, whom he had helped for the CAT examination, advised Byju to pursue teaching students who are aspiring for competitive exams. This kickstarted the journey of one of the most popular Edtech learning platforms. Initially, he taught on a friend’s terrace teaching MBA aspirants different tricks and strategies. Later he quit his job, and started teaching more courses. In 2010, a few alumni of Indian Institutes of Management, who were Byju’s students, pitched an idea to take his classes to a new domain.

A teacher turned entrepreneur, he set up Think & Learn in 2011 to facilitate virtual classes and offered them to millions of students. Later, in 2011, he founded BYJU’s and worked as the CEO.  Byju’s startup is a freemium start-up model and coaches students preparing for Indian Exams like IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT and IAS, as well as GRE and GMAT.

Funding and Expansion of Byju’s 

Byju’s has gained extreme popularity amongst students spread all across India. Nearly 35 million had paid for maths and science classes online. They received funding from a group of investors that included Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and valued it at $5.5 billion—with Raveendran having a 26% stake. In 2018, Byju Raveendran won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Startup category) and in the following year, Byju’s acquired Indian cricket team jersey rights. Ranveendran was added as a non-official startup advisory panel member.

From the young boy who helped his friends pass exams, to the billionaire he is today, Reveendran has transformed the Edtech landscape. Currently placed 72nd in the list of top 100 billionaires of India, Raveendran has been named in Fortune Magazine’s 2020 ’40 Under 40′ list under the technology category. BYJU’s has made its mark in the Edtech landscape with 33 million users and 2.2 million paid subscribers. The startups net valuation quadrupled in 2018 making it one of the top five most valuable digital companies in India. Raveendran’s app has won him and the company several awards like the  Business Standard Annual Award for Corporate Excellence (2018). It has also become a business case at Harvard Business School. In 2019, Byju Raveendran’s net worth grew to $6 Billion. In 2020, it was the highest valued Edtech company in the world with a valuation as high as $11.1 billion and is also currently emerging as the largest acquirer in Indian Edtech space.

Smruthi Krishnan
Smruthi Krishnan
Smruthi interviews and writes on inspiring entrepreneurs and the success stories of start-ups. She is currently pursuing Economics major from Delhi University.

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