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Exclusive: Edtech unicorn upGrad bullish on non-linear growth, says Mayank Kumar

India’s online education market is predicted to reach $3.5 billion by the end of 2022

January 03, 2022 / 01:27 PM IST

Edtech unicorn upGrad weighs non-linear growth options through acquisitions and looks to step up focus on the outcome and profitability this year.

Co-founder and Managing Director Mayank Kumar expects a massive growth for the edtech sector, and his seven-year-old start-up will nearly quadruple its registered learners base to 7.5 million in the next two years.

“In 2022, there will be a strong emphasis on the outcomes and profitability. We foresee accelerated university partnership expansions, tie-ups with global universities to offer diversified online programmes in regions including India, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and beyond,” Kumar told Moneycontrol.

The company is upbeat on raising the topline this year. “We are looking at strategic non-linear growth opportunities through key M&A (merger and acquisition) activities,” Kumar said.

Founded in 2015, upGrad is an online education firm in the high education and professional upskilling space. In August, it had closed $185 million in external funding from Temasek Holdings, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and IIFL at a valuation of $1.2 billion.

It claims to have a learners base of over 2 million across countries, and over 300 university partners. It also asserts to have a robust enterprise business with a client base of 1,000 companies worldwide, as of the third week of December.

“We aim to achieve 7.5 million registered users by 2024 by partnering with over 1,298 universities and 3,110 corporates, and expanding its network of faculties, mentors, and experts to 11,078,” Kumar said.

India’s online education market is predicted to reach $3.5 billion by the end of 2022, according to industry forecasts. Kumar attributed reasons like increase in digitalisation, hybrid model of learning, industry-relevant courses by top-rated universities and colleges, ease of payment, growing awareness, funding by investors, and supportive government policies for this growth.

He said investment in edtech start-ups has been strong in recent years. And given the size of the market and the potential for growth, India is poised to become an international hub, where online learning will emerge as a default option in higher education.

India’s edtech start-ups are on a demand upswell since the outbreak of the pandemic. The demand has put firms like Byju’s, Unacademy, upGrad, Simplilearn, Vedantu, and others in a fast growth trajectory. Dozens of start-ups have garnered funding rounds from investors betting big on Indian start-ups who are seeking to capture a pie of the massive education market in India and abroad.

“India’s educational technology sector will grow while continuing to globalise through international acquisitions,” asserted Kumar.

He claimed that upGrad will stay true to its “commitment of being an integrated LifeLongLearning partner”, and stay “focused on adding more university partnerships to offer a more diversified course portfolio” for the learners.

“We are focused on ensuring that our learners have the best brands to work with through placements, career hikes, and promotions which will drive their professional aspirations,” Kumar said.

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Prashant K Nanda
Prashant K Nanda is an Associate Editor at Moneycontrol .
first published: Jan 3, 2022 01:26 pm