PhysicsWallah, a bootstrapped edtech startup, has raised $100 million in a Series A funding round from West Bridge Capital and GSV Ventures, valuing the company at a unicorn price, according to a statement released on June 7.
PhysicsWallah raised the money at a valuation of $1.1 billion, making it India's 101st unicorn, as per the company. Since April of this year, PhysicsWallah has become the second company to join the coveted unicorn club, compared to 11 in April-June 2021.
PhysicsWallah said that the funds will be used for business expansion, branding, the opening of more offline learning centres, and the introduction of new course options.
In an interview last month, Alakh Pandey, co-founder and CEO of PhysicsWallah, stated that the company will focus aggressively on the K-12 (kindergarten to class 12) segment, as well as forays into executive education. Pandey had also expressed gratitude for the donation.
PhysicsWallah claims to have 6.9 million YouTube subscribers and 5.2 million Google Play Store downloads. In 2020 and 2021, the company claims that over 10,000 students passed competitive exams such as NEET and JEE (medical and engineering entrance exams). According to PhysicsWallah, at least one student in every six medical schools and one in every ten engineering schools is a former student of PhysicsWallah. The company claims to provide India's most affordable edtech packages.
PhysicsWallah said that,
"It currently has 1900 employees, including 500 teachers and about 100 tech experts. The company also has 200 associate professors available to answer student queries and another 200 professionals to create exam questions and term papers."
Pandey said that,
“The company has been profitable since inception with positive cash flows and reserves.” “Our revenue grew nine-fold in the year 2021-2022 vis-a-vis 2020-2021. Our current run rate for FY 2023 is at $65 Million.”
PhysicsWallah plans to release instructional content in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Odia, Malayalam, and Kannada, among other languages. By 2025, the company hopes to connect with 250 million students, according to the company. PhysicsWallah will also open 20 offline tutoring classrooms, dubbed Pathshala, across India, according to the company. PW claims to have developed more than 20 centres in 18 cities, with more than 10,000 students enrolled for the 2022 - 2023 session.
PhysicsWallah's expansion plans come at a time when India's edtech sector is slowing down due to a reduction in demand for technology-based education solutions, owing to the reopening of schools, colleges, and physical tuition facilities.
Furthermore, due to a slowdown in global financial markets, funding for India's total startup ecosystem is drying up, forcing companies to lay off personnel, close non-core verticals, and rationalise advertising and marketing spends.
However, edtech startups, which had seen hypergrowth over the previous two years, seem to have been impacted the worst by the funding winter. Since the beginning of 2022, edtech companies have laid off nearly 3,700 people.
Sandeep Singhal, Managing Director, WestBridge Capital, said that,
"The Indian edtech ecosystem has grown considerably over the last two years; however, recent developments have demonstrated the first-hand importance of an efficient edtech Infrastructure."
"PW creates long-tail value for learners by delivering high-quality education at a democratic price. PW is one of the rare startups with a profound understanding of the education that Bharat today needs."
In an interview Pandey said that the company will also start spending on its branding and marketing through advertisements once it raises funds.
Pandey said that,
“We need to create a brand. We were happy that there were so many students coming to our platform without any advertisements, only through word of mouth. But now we want to reach students and parents and make them aware of PhysicsWallah.”