Byjus’ ambitions in trying to corner the entire Indian education space are stunning to behold.
Byju’s has acquired coaching institute Aakash Educational Services in a deal that’s valued at nearly $1 billion (Rs. 7000 crore). The cash-and-stock deal is among the largest ever in India’s ed-tech space. Aakash Educational Services will function independently post the acquisition, with founders J.C. Chaudhry and Aakash Chaudhry, continuing to lead the entity.
“The whole idea of the partnership is to enable students to learn anywhere, anytime, and through any preferred delivery channel,” said Akash Education’s Managing Director Aakash Chaudhry. “While we put together a larger ecosystem with BYJUs, the Aakash business will continue to run as it is, as we expand our physical classroom centres and go deeper into tier-II and tier-III locations,” he added.
“Students who have wanted to access physical classrooms have gotten that from us. And those who wanted to access content and learning online has been served by Byju’s. Together, we will leverage the physical location and technology and online learning and offer students that is unique,” he added.
Akash was founded 33 years ago, and is among the most popular coaching institutes in the country. It owns and operates more than 200 physical tutoring centres across India, which prepare students to qualify for top engineering and medical colleges. The firm serves over 250,000 high-school students.
Byju’s and Akash together have synergies that each firm independently would’ve found it hard to unlock. Byju’s curriculum primarily reaches school students through the internet, while Akash Education Services primarily reaches high-school students through physical classes. Both being part of Byju’s could help Byju’s cross sell Akash’s services to its school students, making it more likely for them to choose it for entrance exam preparations, while having Akash within its fold gives Byju’s immediate access to physical locations across the country, which it can use to supplement its online classes. It’s becoming apparent that the future of education might end up being a mix of online and offline approaches, and with one of India’s largest physical coaching centers on board, Byju’s has a finger in both pies.
Byju’s has been particularly aggressive in expanding its scope of services, and has quickly snapped up companies in the ed-tech space. It had gone international when few Indian startups were venturing abroad — in 2017, Byju’s had acquired TutorVista from Pearson, which was an online tutoring brand catering to school and college students in the US, and had also acquired US-based Osmo, which made learning games for kids aged 3-8. And Byju’s is keen on cornering all aspects of the education market — last year, it had acquired WhiteHat Jr, which teaches coding to young children, and now it’s acquired a physical coaching institute for college entrance examinations. At this point, Byju’s is so diversified that it’s hardly an ed-tech firm anymore — it seems to be a massive bet on the future of education in India and the world.