As speculated for months and reported by us, popular ed-tech startup Byju’s had been eying inflow of fresh funds for global expansion. And yesterday, the company has announced the closing of a staggering $50 million Series D round co-led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). The funding round also saw participation from previous backers, Sequoia Capital, Sofina, Lightspeed Ventures and Times Internet Ltd.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is a personal limited liability fund founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and her spouse Dr. Priscilla Chan. It plans to pump upto $1 billion in shares in worthy startups and projects in each of the next three years. This is the very first Asian investment undertaken by the initiative, and Vivian Wu will be joining the company’s board.

Commenting on the funding round, and opportunity presented to her, Wu says,

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports innovative models of learning wherever they are around the world. Education can give young people and their families a path to a better future, and families in India work hard to give their children that chance. BYJU’s represents an opportunity to help even more students develop a love for learning and unlock their potential.

Byju’s was founded in 2015 by teacher turned entrepreneur Byju Raveendran to reinvent how students go about learning in this era of mobile devices. The platform combines world-class teachers, proven methods, innovative technology and data science to deliver a personalized learning experience to students in classes 4 to 12. It has also gone significant changes in the past one year, shifting from a classroom-based model to an app-based one.

The company plans to deploy the freshly infused funds to achieve their goal of expansion into global markets, especially the UK and US. This funding round from marquee foreign investors, Byju believes, will also inspire additional investments from leading companies around the world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also took to his personal Facebook account to extend his hearty congratulations to Byju and his initiative to improve the education system+standards in India.

In terms of platform, the company is currently using proprietary original content, engaging video lessons and interactive activities to make learning easier for each student. It is now also planning to introduce new subjects beyond physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, and roll out products for classes IV and V.

This Series D funding round follows pursuit to the previous $75 million, that the company had raised from Sequoia Capital and Sofina in March of this year. It has previously also managed to raise about $5 million in venture debt financing from InnoVen Capital in two tranches between September 2015 and March this year. Byju’s has raised a total of $143 million in multiple rounds of funding, till date.

Commenting on the current funding round, founder and CEO Byju Raveendran says,

We are excited to partner with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to usher in the next stage of growth at BYJU’s. Our vision closely aligns with their vision of advancing human potential and promoting equality. 

[I believe] once children fall in love with learning, they will start learning on their own. That’s why BYJU’s products are built in ways that inspire children to take initiative and learn on their own.

Within just a year of its launch, Byju’s e-learning mobile app has already gained immense traction and there is no dearth of downloads(or daily active users). It has amassed a total of  5.5 million app downloads, with about 250,000 annual paid subscribers on the platform. The company is currently seeing an average engagement rate of 40 minutes per day, alongwith 90 per cent returning users renewing their subscription.

This investment makes Byju’s the most well-capitalized edtech startups, which has already turned profitable in India. It is seeing a MoM growth of 15 per cent, with revenues to the north of $18 million — have already the figures for the previous financial year FY-16. The influx of funds is only expected to fan the burning fire of international expansion and inorganic growth for the company.

We are delighted to have CZI and other companies partner with us to help BYJU’s expand opportunity for more young people. Over the last few years, the team has worked hard to make high-quality education accessible across the country, and we are proud to have students from across 1400+ towns learning through the product. We are amazed by their continued growth and are excited to be part of their journey,

says GV Ravishankar, MD, Sequoia Capital India Advisors and BYJU’s board member.

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