Indian Edtech Giant Byju’s Acquires Virtual Simulations Startup LabInApp

LabInApp offers virtual simulations to help students learn about science experiments online through its interactive platform

Indian edtech decacorn Byju’s has acquired Unitus Ventures-backed LabInApp for an undisclosed amount, according to a statement released yesterday.

With the latest investment, Unitus Ventures, which had invested in LabInApp’s seed round in 2015, will exit the startup completely, the statement noted.

The acquisition announcement follows Byju’s latest fundraise of US$500 million from U.S.-based private equity firm Silver Lake at a valuation of $10.8 billion, making it the second most valuable startup in India.

LabInApp enables students and teachers to perform science activities and experiments through virtual simulations on mobiles and desktop, allowing students to learn by touching and manipulating essential parameters and observing the effect in real time through its immersive and interactive platform.

“Technology has become the core to most human essentials, with edtech topping the chart, especially in the pandemic world. While schools have their set of challenges, students shouldn’t miss out on experiential learning,” LabInApp Co-founder and CEO, Pavan Shinde said in the statement.

“Keeping this in mind, we have created virtual learning and teaching environment representing science laboratories where teachers can teach practical concepts to students,” he added.

He also said that the acquisition by Byju’s will help further scale LabInApp’s products and potential.

Unitus Ventures Managing Partner Will Poole said, “Acquisition of LabInApp by Byju’s during the course of a global pandemic exemplifies the growth story of innovative edtech solutions.”

He added that Unitus remains committed to its goal of mentoring early-stage startups, applying advanced technology to meet the needs of India’s lower-income populations and supporting them to scale newer heights.

Founded in 2015, LabInApp currently has 550 simulations in addition to some that are in various stages of development. The company has over 5,000 schools onboard across India.

The statement observed that all content on LabInApp is designed according to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) guidelines and supports all major curricula from Grades 6 through 12.

With the initiation of a country-wide lockdown in March to curb the spread of COVID-19, Byju’s has soared in popularity and valuation among Indian students. During the lockdown period, Byju’s user base increased by 25 million, bringing the total number of students on its platform to 65 million, Byju’s CEO Byju Raveendran said at the Disrupt 2020 conference by Tech Crunch.

Founded in 2011, Byju’s provides personalized learning programs for individual students based on their proficiency levels and capabilities, allowing them to learn at their own pace and style.

Its platform has 4.2 million annual paid subscriptions, and an annual renewal rate of 85%, according to an older press release. The startup also doubled its revenue for the fiscal year ended March 2020 to INR2,800 crore (approximately $370 million) from INR1,430 crores in 2019.

This year, the startup plans to generate over $1 billion in revenue from India alone, and take home $150 to $180 million in profits, Raveendran told Tech Crunch in an interview.

Last month, the edtech giant acquired WhiteHat Jr, an online coding platform, for $300 million.

However, although an Omidyar Network India and RedSeer Consulting report estimates the edtech market in India to clock $1.7 billion in revenue this year at a growth rate of 120%, Raveendran believes that the low rate of smartphone penetration among Indian students presents the biggest challenge to edtech in the country.

“What we consider as the target audience, we have less than 4% of penetration in that segment,” Raveendran told Tech Crunch. “More than one-third of school-going students don’t have a smartphone.”

He added that Byju’s is seriously considering several merger and acquisition deals in order to find companies that can add strong products to its platform for the existing user base, or provide distribution channels to facilitate Byju’s expansion in new markets.

Header image by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

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