“When you are building a company, the road will always be bumpy and sailing can never be smooth, especially when one is not following a cut-paste model,” says Divya Gokulnath, co-founder of edtech firm BYJU’s.
In response to a query from The Hindu on the recent challenges in front of the edutech platform, Ms. Gokulnath said the environment and appetite for online learning had massively changed after the pandemic, a change that was largely to do with awareness and market requirements.
“BYJU’s is the one that created a rule book for the edutech space in this country. We are not a cut-paste model, nor a China model copied. Instead, we are built on the first principle,” said Ms. Gokulnath, wife of Byju Raveendran, CEO and co-founder of BYJU’s.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were just BYJU’s learning app. Then we have been in a constant state of flux and improvement. During and after the pandemic, we have expanded our portfolio, and product offerings, introduced newer formats, entered other geographies and introduced more languages,” she explained.
“We have added more businesses to our core business organically and inorganically to add value and increase the breadth and depth of our platform to help learners in multiple geographies.”
Ms. Gokulnath said the past 18 months had been the most exciting period for BYJU’s in terms of successful business expansion and growth. “We opened 50 hybrid learning centres and launched 12 languages. Traditional learning institutes would have taken 30 years to do what we have done in this short span of time,” she said.
Responding to another query on certain customer concerns over BYJU’s, she said the platform had been servicing a large pool of customers and there could be isolated cases and anecdotal evidence of customers not being happy.
“We didn’t know two million students would download us when we launched BYJU’s app because at that time everything was an app. Today, a large community of 17.5 million students is learning with us. There could be isolated cases where we made mistakes, we are aware of them and we will look at course correction,” she added.
BYJU’s follows a three-level process before any sale is finalised to minimise any issues. Also, 96% of student and parent queries are closed in 48 hours, she clarified.
Ms. Gokulnath said BYJU’s was exploring further acquisitions around its main spectrum of early learning. The firm would scout for “strengtheners” and they could be a good tech or a virtual reality firm which would add value to the platform and help scale and reach newer geographies, she said.
“We are currently in talks with several firms in multiple geographies for inorganic play while we are also expanding our focus on Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Mexico and Brazil,” she added.
On the financial performance of BYJU’s, she said auditors had taken a lot of time to finalise the financials largely because of the complexity involved in the consolidation of businesses. The auditors are believed to have put in over 20,000 hours in this exercise. “Our revenue recognition model has changed and some 40% of revenue has gone to the subsequent years, that’s why our losses in FY2021 looked so magnified,” she said.
The company is expecting its FY2022 revenues to be in the range of ₹10,000 crore and the current year’s revenue to be ₹17,000 crore. “Experimentation and failing are encouraged, that is the spirit of entrepreneurship. Our losses have already halved. We are on a path to profitability and our core business has always been running on the track,” she said.