INDIA (ABC) – A teacher-turned-tech entrepreneur’s path to becoming the newest member of India’s billionaire’s club was made clear by following what worked.
“It started as a way of helping my friends to crack competitive exams and then grew to workshop for 100 students, which further scaled up to stadium sessions for 20,000 students,” Byju Raveendran, 37, told ABC News.
Raveendran launched his company Think and Learn Private Ltd. with the plan to offer online lessons to students in 2011, according to a company press release. The company then launched an app, BYJU’S – The Learning App, in 2015.
The BYJU’s website describes the app as offering personalized tutoring solutions for K-12 students and for those taking competitive exams. The site has 35 million registered users and 2.7 million paid subscribers, per the press release.
“Amongst school-going students especially, memory-based learning has been mostly driven by fear of exams rather than the love for learning,” Raveendran told ABC. “We wanted to inculcate love for their studies through the use of technology.”
A $150 million round of funding this month brought the value of the company to $5.7 billion, according to Bloomberg. Given Raveendran’s over 21% ownership of the company, per Bloomberg, that made him a billionaire.
Raveendran grew up in a small town in the southern Indian state of Kerala and trained as an engineer, the company told ABC News.
He came into teaching by chance, as helping his friends got him thinking about how students were learning concepts.
“The main idea behind starting BYJU’S was to make learning accessible, effective, engaging and personalized for everyone,” he said.
Raveendran joins the ranks of other young Indian billionaires like online retailer Flipkart founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal and Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of the digital payment company Paytm.