Byju's is reportedly buying Indian brick-and-mortar institute Aakash for $1 billion

Manish Singh
·2-min read
KOTA, INDIA - MAY 11: Students take notes at Allen Career Institute, the leading coaching institute, on May 11, 2016 in Kota, India. It claims to have enrolled over 77,000 students last year. (Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

We may finally have an answer to why Byju’s, the world’s most valuable edtech startup, raised hundreds of millions of dollars last year.

Bloomberg reports that the Bangalore-based startup has agreed to buy Aakash Educational Services, which owns and operates more than 200 physical tutoring centres across the country aimed at students preparing to qualify for top engineering and medical colleges.

According to the publication, Byju’s will pay $1 billion to buy Aakash Educational Services, which was founded in 1988 and serves more than 250,000 students. Aakash sold 37.5% stake to Blackstone in late 2019 in a deal that valued the Indian firm at about $500 million.

A Byju’s spokesperson declined to comment.

Byju’s has raised over $800 million in the past two years, and more than doubled its valuation to over $11 billion. The startup, like several other edtech firms in India, attracted tens of millions of students to its platform last year after the pandemic prompted New Delhi to shut down schools nationwide.

Byju’s prepares students pursuing undergraduate and graduate-level courses, and in recent years has also expanded its catalog to serve all school-going students. Tutors on Byju’s app tackle complex subjects using real-life objects such as pizza and cake. The startup, which turned profitable in late 2019, served over 70 million students as of late last year.

In an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt last year, Byju’s co-founder and chief executive Byju Raveendran said the startup, which acquired a coding platform aimed at young students called WhiteHat Jr for $300 million last year, was open to more merger and acquisition opportunities.

The startup is backed by several high-profile investors, including Bond, which was co-founded by Mary Meeker. Bond expects Byju’s to be worth over $30 billion within three years, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch earlier.

Updated at 5.48PM IST, Wednesday: An Aakash spokesperson issued the following statement. "Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) is in talks with Byju’s for building a strong partnership. The Chaudhry family and Founders, Mr JC Chaudhry & Mr Aakash Chaudhry remain committed and will continue to run Aakash Educational Services along with its management team with the same passion and commitment. Putting these speculations to rest, we would like to state that AESL is on a mission to build India’s largest digitally-enabled, omni-channel education company. We will accelerate our digital transformation and deliver phenomenal value to our students. We will rapidly expand our omni channel & digital offerings, as we embark on the next trajectory of quality education & growth. We remain true to our Founder’s motto of ‘Student First,’ enabling us to deliver long-term value to our students, employees, investors and other stakeholders.”