We expect about a third of our revenues from international markets in the next 3-4 years: Byju’s CSO

Yatti Soni Bengaluru | Updated on July 30, 2021

Byju's chief strategy officer Anita Kishore decodes the company's back-to-back acquisitions.

With an estimated valuation of $16.5 billion, Byju’s is the most valued start-up in India. Starting its journey as an offline platform, the decade-old company has embraced technology in all its product offerings. It has announced eight acquisitions in the edtech space, including TutorVista, Edurite, Math Adventures, Osmo, Whitehat Jr, Aakash Education Services, Epic, and Great Learning. However, media reports have claimed that the company has completed about 15 acquisitions till now.

As the company completes two back-to-back acquisitions of the kids reading platform Epic and upskilling platform Great Learning, BusinessLine spoke to Byju’s chief strategy officer Anita Kishore on the company’s acquisition strategy and future plans.

Great Learning is a particularly interesting acquisition of Byju's. While the majority of your other purchases have been in the K12 space. This is the first time Byju's is venturing into the professional learning and upskilling space. What was the thinking behind it?

Historically, our focus has been on K12, which is our core segment. But increasingly, as we are growing the business and reaching some scale, we have started thinking about the education space more broadly. We are thinking about the places where technology can make an intervention and help people learn better — which has always been at the core of our vision.

Upskilling is a space that has always been online-first, unlike a lot of other segments in education. It is primarily focused on working professionals, and the adoption of technology is high. So, it's been a space where technology is starting to make a real impact, and that’s the reason we have been actively looking to expand in the upskilling segment.

When you look at companies to acquire, do you also consider the possible synergies between these acquired entities?

Leveraging all of these synergies is a crucial aspect, and a lot of times, acquisitions don't work out if you're not able to integrate well and leverage the synergies. For instance, we acquired Osmo about a couple of years back, and the core reason for that acquisition was their platform capabilities. Osmo had built phygital (physcial+digital) games for kids, where kids could solve a math problem on a physical book, and the app captured it. After the acquisition, Osmo’s platform has been integrated into all of Byju’s products.

At the same time, Osmo's business standalone has also scaled well, they were doing $25 million revenue when we acquired them a little over two years ago, and it has now grown more than four times. Osmo reported $110 million in revenue last year.

Do you also earmark specific funding for these strategic acquisitions?

No, not at all. We don't earmark a particular amount or have a target number of companies that we want to acquire. It is a very organic process, and we approach acquisition in two ways. We look at a particular segment and feel that acquisition is the right way to operate in this space. For example, when we acquired Aakash Educational Services, we saw that the ideal model for learning in the test prep segment is the hybrid model. Yes, we could build it up ourselves, but there's value in partnering with someone who has been doing this for the last three decades and complements our online space capability.

Then there are cases where we see a product, and we could sense a substantial opportunity and complimentary possibility with it. This was the case with Osmo. The core reason for acquiring them was not the market expansion but their platform. Phygital capabilities were not the core products of Osmo, but we envisioned what we could do with that platform and technology.

Listening to you talk about acquisitions feels like you are putting together a puzzle. Can you talk about that bigger picture that Byju's wishes to create?

Our big picture vision has been constant from day one. We want to try and create an impact on the way as many students learn as possible. We are in a sector where the growth of the company and making an impact go hand-in-hand. And, everything we've done over the years has been towards that objective.

Even when we look at expanding beyond India, we see a massive opportunity for us because learning is a need that exists across the board. It's not something that is limited to India alone.

Byju’s recent MCA filings show an upcoming investment for business expansions. Are you looking at expanding in new markets?

Our focus from the expansion perspective is international markets. In our first year, we have done over $300 million in revenue in the US market. We have a presence in other English-speaking markets, including Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. But just in terms of sheer size, the US will be our key market outside India for the near term. We expect to see about a third of our revenues coming from international markets in the next three to four years.

Published on July 30, 2021

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