Higher education and upskilling edtech upGrad expects its global market business to contribute nearly 50 per cent of its revenue over the next 12-18 months, a significant jump from 15 per cent in the current quarter ending March 31, 2022. The edtech unicorn is already among the top platforms for short courses online in the US, co-founder and Chairperson, Ronnie Screwvala, told BusinessLine.

At present, 85 per cent of upGrad’s revenue comes from the domestic market. “This quarter about 15 per cent of our revenue came from international markets, which will grow to about 50 per cent international and 50 per cent domestic over the next 12-18 months,” he said. 

The company is aggressively working on its global expansion plans, having set up offices in the US, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, South-East Asia, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the UK.

upGrad KnowledgeHut

One of its acquired subsidiaries, now called upGrad KnowledgeHut, has surpassed its revenue target of $40 million to $45 million in FY22,. Screwvala said that KnowledgeHut is aiming to cross $100 million in revenue by 2023.

upGrad KnowledgeHut is a spealised short-duration tech and skills provider with own-branded certification. Over 70 per cent of the revenue for the vertical came from geographies such as the US, UAE, Germany, Singapore, South Africa and the UK. And a significant 40 per cent of its $45 million revenue comes from the US alone. It has a team of 800 experts worldwide

KnowledgeHut was acquired by upGrad in September 2021 at around $12-13 million. “Our DNA in the first four years was to build prowess in deep learning and longer courses, therefore, short courses we could always build upwards. We found knowledgeHut at an interesting cusp where the founders and the team were doing good work, but they needed the tailwind to redefine their trajectory from their onwards. They were stuck for 2-3 years in a flattish pace. We knew what we could bring on the table, and rather than waiting and building the shorter courses programmes on our own, we acquired KnowledgeHut,” said Screwvala.

upGrad KnowledgeHut was one of the three entities merged in November 2021 along with upGrad Campus (originally Impartus) and upGrad Jeet (The GATE Academy) to strengthen and streamline verticals as a part of its plan to become a global integrated lifelong learning company.

KnowledgeHut’s upcoming courses include AGILE, Data Science & Cloud, Business Analytics, Blockchain development, and Design Thinking, along with UI/UX Bootcamps and digital marketing. 

“Short-term tech skills are witnessing a surge with strong demand from working professionals around the world. As a leader in this space - upGrad KnowledgeHut is at the cusp of leveraging the opportunity to open up the market, and create a world-class learning experience through their specialised courses, in the most relevant disciplines to build the careers of tomorrow,” Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder, and MD, upGrad said in a statement.

According to Screwvala, in higher edtech around the world, there isn’t any integrated approach. Even in the bigger global US companies there are strong stylos. They are either short courses like Coursera and Udemy or they are a catalyst for university courses. “Our focus is to build a global integrated higher education company. India and Asia are very important markets for the US look at,” he said.

On government’s digital university push

“The regulator and the PMO’s office have been very forward looking on changes in education system, they are very obsessed and focussed on bringing gross enrolment ratio (GER) from 25, which is one of the lowest in the world to at least 50 over the next three years,” Screwvala said.

The government was especially vocal during the Union Budget 2022, pushing for digital universities, lifelong learning and upskilling programmes to for better employability and job opportunities for the youth.

Speaking on the opportunity this could bring for upGrad, Screwvala said, “They are very accepting of the fact that credible partners need to come into the space, digital online is definitely the way we can solve the problem.  If we are trying build everything in brick and mortar, it will take another $100 billion to do this, and finding the right quality faculty will be another challenge. The beauty of online is you can get the best of faculty to spend limited amount of time for maximum benefit.”

“Our enterprise and B2B business will also grow substantially, it’s not just the government but private sector also. The focus they have on digital university is a large one,” he added.

Offline expansion

While peers like BYJU’s and Unacademy have started investing and finding ways to connect with the students offline, upGrad is taking a different approach.

“The offering and the content learning experience we perfected online is so high calibre and standardised, I’ll never be able to match the quality offline that I am able to give online,” Screwvala said.

“I see us expanding offline specifically for mentoring, coaching and career advice because there is where the touch and feel comes. People are stuck in their careers and will love to grow in tier-2 and tier-3 cities and even tier-1. Almost 50 per cent of tier-1 professionals also have this this tier-2 kind of an approach,” he added.