Love Your Work. Byju has a Les­son for Star­tups Here

The Economic Times - - Disruption: - J.Vig­nesh@ times­group.com

Bengaluru: From the sun-soaked days spent run­ning and play­ing foot­ball and cricket at Azhikode, Ker­ala, Byju Raveen­dran learned one thing: Do what you love with all your heart. He fol­lows the same mantra while lead­ing a com­pany that re­cently se­cured $75 mil­lion (about .₹ 500 crore) in fund­ing from Se­quoia Cap­i­tal and Bel­gium-based So­fina.

“Suc­cess is about mak­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact. I am an en­gi­neer by chance, teacher by choice and an en­tre­pre­neur by chance. I did not start this to make money. I started do­ing what I re­ally loved, it made an im­pact and be­came a busi­ness,” said the founder of the name­sake ed­u­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy startup, Byju’s. For the son of two teach­ers, num­bers were al­ways close to his heart. “I was able to re­late to ev­ery­thing through num­bers. Dur­ing my school days, I re­mem­ber sit­ting in a train and try­ing to fig­ure out the speed of the train by keep­ing a track of the num­ber of elec­tric poles and the time,” said Raveen­dran. He started teach­ing be­cause he knew how to crack the much-feared CAT exam. The trick, ac­cord­ing to the 35-year-old, is sim­ple — learn the how and why of the ques­tion. “The idea is to make learn­ing con­tex­tual and vis­ual. It is im­por­tant to show the how to learn.” The “how” was in­stru­men­tal in scor­ing 100 per­centile in CAT and in fo­cus­ing on teach­ing the same to other as­pi­rants. “I was work­ing abroad, as a ser­vice en­gi­neer. It in­volved a lot of travel. The ex­po­sure in­creased my as­pi­ra­tional lev­els,” said Raveen­dran. “Dur­ing my break, I took CAT and scored 100 per­centile. Af­ter that, I started with just a few work­shops on how to make sense of ques­tions rather than solv­ing a ques­tion. Then, class­rooms got con­verted to au­di­to­ri­ums and then into sta­di­ums.”

In­te­gral to run­ning Byju’s is his per­sonal learn­ing from sports. From foot­ball and cricket to bad­minton, ta­ble ten­nis and ball bad­minton, Raveen­dran plays them all. “How to han­dle pres­sure, te- am work, that killer in­stinct, these are the core mes­sages from sports,” said the FC Barcelona fan. In the long run, he wants to make qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion ac­ces­si­ble to a large au­di­ence, and has hence re­lied on tech­nol­ogy to do it.

“What they (Byju’s) did well was video-based learn­ing, and their mo­bile app, this has been a big suc­cess. They also got their fun­da­men­tals right, they got the right teach­ers,” said Narayanan Ra­maswamy, head of ed­u­ca­tion prac­tice at KPMG In­dia.

“Byju is a bril­liant per­son. He has great con­cep­tual clar­ity. He has built a ped­a­gogy on ba­sic prin­ci­ples as build­ing blocks. He un­der­stands the role of tech in learn­ing. He knows how to grow an or­gan­i­sa­tion,” said TV Mo­han­das Pai, chair­man of Ma­ni­pal Global Ed­u­ca­tion and an early in­vestor in Byju’s. “He has enor­mous pas­sion and energy. We in­vested .₹ 50 crore at a val­u­a­tion of .₹ 150 crore. It was a large leap of faith. He’s pos­si­bly the fore­most en­tre­pre­neur in edtech in In­dia.”

BYJURAVEENDRAN Founder, Byju’s The idea is to make learn­ing con­tex­tual and vis­ual. It is im­por­tant to show the ‘how’ to learn

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