The pandemic was instrumental in ensuring that online education rose to prominence and the edtech sector grew by leaps and bounds. Consequently, edtech startups expanded and gobbled up a larger slice of the fundraising pie as they benefitted from the pandemic over the past two years.
The current scenario, however, is a steep contrast to their fortunes of 2021. With the gradually decreasing demand for online education (and the return to offline one) and cooling of investor confidence, edtechs are struggling to raise funds and forced to lay off employees to survive.
Despite the funding crunch, there have been some bright lights, such as Ronnie Screwvala’s Indian edtech startup upGrad. The company has just announced a staggering new $225 million fundraise, which is coming in perhaps at the hardest of times.
upGrad has raised this capital from James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, US testing and assessment provider Educational Testing Service and existing investor Temasek. This fresh round of fundraising is said to have doubled its valuation to $2.25 billion.
The funding round also included participation from the family offices of Indian billionaires such as Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal SA and Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel. The latest bout of funding brings the total amount of funds raised by the startup to nearly $425 million, to date.
It was last valued at $1.2 billion after gobbling up $185 million in August 2021.
Despite cooling investor interest and warnings of tough times (by both Sequoia and Y Combinator), upGrad’s ambitions have not been dampened. It intends to make acquisitions in both the online and offline spaces in the upskilling domain that is focussed on working professionals.
Additionally, it has a target of $500 million in gross revenue in the year ending March 2023, while it’s user base is expected to expand to 3 million by the same period.
Currently, it claims to have over 2 million students across 100 countries (including the Middle East, Vietnam, and Indonesia), and a client base of 1,000 companies.
Founded in 2015 by Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chugh, upGrad counts among its investors prolific names such as IIFL Finance, International Finance Corporation and Unilazer Ventures.
It offers higher education courses in various fields across technology, law, data science, and management and collaborates with 300 universities such as Liverpool Business School, Deakin University, and Swiss School of Business and Management.