Osmo to propel online education start-up Byju's global market launch

Byju Raveendran (right), founder & CEO, Byju’s with Pramod Sharma, founder & CEO, Osmo
Sometime last November, Byju Raveendran, while waiting for his connecting flight, walked into a store in Dubai airport. What struck his eyes were the gaming products of Osmo, a US-based educational gaming company. 

The products were displayed prominently at the store, but no one was buying them. It was probably because the products were new, and typically people don’t want to try out new things in public places, he says, as they fear that they may be seen as technologically challenged. 

For the next couple of hours, he did turned into a sales person. “I stayed there for a couple of hours and sold the products to almost every single parent who was coming with the kids to that store. It’s because I was able to explain to the parents that the skills acquired using Osmo’s products are not taught in school,” said Raveendran, who bought a few of Osmo’s products for his son during his visits to the US, and he (son) had liked them a lot. 

The next thing he did was to call his colleague in the US, asking him to reach out to Osmo in San Francisco. “It was a weekend. The same evening, we did a video call and I realised the potential of education when I saw a few more things.” In January, Byju’s closed Osmo’s acquisition, its first overseas one, for a whopping $120 million in a stock-and-cash deal. 

The acquisition would not have been at a more opportune time than now when the Bengaluru-headquartered company is rearing to make a global foray. 

While the acquisition has got him access to different market segments, Raveendran is now busy charting out his next action plan. 

Starting in June, Byju’s is preparing to foray into global markets, especially North America, English-speaking and Commonwealth countries, and even Asia. Osmo’s products, which have evoked a huge response with around half a million customers in the US using them, are expected to play a big role in this effort. Besides, Byju’s is looking at roping in another financial investor to help it gain access to some of these markets, especially in Asia. This is expected to happen immediately after its global launch.

“We have enough unutilised cash that was raised in the previous funding rounds, while the business itself is also generating enough cash. So, clearly money is not the criterion we are looking at. The intent is to get access to a newer market, which some of the investors are very good at,” added Raveendran. “Hopefully, it will be immediately after our global launch, and there is no urgency for this.”

He said the company was in talks with potential distribution partnerships in some of these markets. But it would look at making an acquisition like Osmo. 

By April this year, Byju’s is looking at launching Osmo gaming content in India before the global launch, for which both the teams are working overtime to make this happen. 

Osmo was co-founded by a first-generation entrepreneur born and brought up in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, before he went to the US for higher studies after completing his graduation from IIT-Delhi. Son of a farmer, Pramod Sharma, co-founder and chief executive officer of Osmo, worked for eight years with Google after completing his Master’s at Stanford University before launching Osmo with his colleague from Google days, Jerome Scholler, in 2013. Around the time when Raveendran approached them, Osmo was doing quite well, and Sharma and Scholler didn’t have any plan to sell the business.

Osmo, which has a team of around 60 people, is catering to 30,000 schools in the US while its products are now used by at least half a million families in the country.

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