India has a new unicorn startup. On Wednesday, Unacademy announced it has raised $150 million in a new funding round that valued the firm at $1.45 billion.
SoftBank Group — through its Vision Fund 2 — led Unacademy’s Series F funding round while existing investors Facebook, Blume Ventures, Nexus Partners, General Atlantic, and Sequoia Capital participated in it. The new deal pushes four-and-a-half-year-old Unacademy’s to-date raise to about $350 million.
Unacademy helps students prepare for competitive exams to get into a college and also those who are pursuing graduation-level courses. On the Unacademy app, students watch live classes from educators and later engage in sessions to review topics in more detail. In recent months, the startup has held several online interviews of high-profile individuals such as Indian politician Shashi Tharoor on a range of topics, which has expanded its appeal beyond its student-base.
Last year, Unacademy launched a subscription service that offers students access to all live classes. The platform, which has 30 million registered users, has amassed over 350,000 paying subscribers.
“Our goal always has been to democratize knowledge and make it more affordable and accessible by getting the best experts in the world to help everyone achieve their goals. We are just getting started,” said Gaurav Munjal, co-founder, and chief executive of Unacademy, in a tweet.
.@unacademy hits a new milestone!
Congrats @gauravmunjal @Romansaini @hemezh for building 1 of the great edtech plays of our era.@blumeventures is proud to have been a key partner in the @Unacademy story. From the 1st round (as the lead) to now 8th we have been in every round! https://t.co/0jeFAzb2qg
— Sajith Pai (@sajithpai) September 2, 2020
The growing valuation of Unacademy — which was valued at over $400 million in February this year when it closed its Series E funding round — comes as education startups report massive growth in their usage.
Unacademy’s rival, Byju’s — also backed by Sequoia Capital India — was valued at $10.5 billion in its recent financing round from Mary Meeker’s Bond.
As the coronavirus outbreak began to spread in India earlier this year, the government enforced a nationwide lockdown that saw schools close across the nation. This has led many parents to explore digital learning services alternatives for their kids.
Even as most Indians tend not to pay for online services — just ask Facebook, which has amassed over 400 million users in India and makes little in the country — the education category has become an outlier. Indian families continue to spend heavily on their children’s education in hopes of paving way for a better future.
Online learning platforms have dominated the deal flows in recent months. Earlier this week, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative backed Mumbai-headquartered Eruditus in a $113 million fundraise. Toppr, which offers four products and services that are aimed at K-12 students, raised $46 million; while Vedantu raised $100 million.
There has also been some consolidation. Unacademy acquired PrepLadder, which offers courses aimed at medical students, for $50 million in July. It also led an investment round of $5 million to acquire a majority stake in Mastree. Byju’s acquired WhiteHat Jr. that teaches coding to kids for $300 million.