Unacademy is like the Netflix for live education: CEO Gaurav Munjal

If Covid-19 was not there, we would have achieved the same goal 6-7 months later, says Unacademy CEO Gaurav Munjal
In an interview with Samreen Ahmad and Bibhu Ranjan Mishra, Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO of Unacademy talks about how the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic may have shortened the time the company has taken to achieve $1.45 billion valuation by almost half, and how the Bengaluru-based firm is trying to enter into new exams categories. Edited excerpts:

 
In just 6 months, your company’s valuation has grown three-fold. How did that happen? Is it because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic?

 
Even before Covid-19, our valuation in February 2020 was 10 times better than what it was in February 2019. We were the first ones to build a live class subscription product and get the best teachers on board from Delhi and Kota. During Covid-19, after people realised the importance of our product, they came on our platform and started using Unacademy. We have free classes and a subscription product, so if your goal is to clear an exam or even learning chess, we get you the best educators who teach you live. We are like Netflix for live education by the best experts.

 
So, a lot of credit for your growth can be given to Covid-19?

 
Yes, for speeding up things. If Covid-19 was not there, we would have achieved the same goal 6-7 months later.

 
What next for unicorn Unacademy?

 
We want to launch a K-12 subscription for school students and want to expand in more exam categories and experiment with other categories like chess. We are launching a new subscription called competitive programming under the brand CodeChef, which will help engineering students learn from the best programmers of the country and get jobs. We would look at covering more products for preparing for more state and regional level examinations. We are not present in the judiciary and law examinations, and we want to launch those. The chartered accountancy (CA) exam is going to be a big category for us. We launched it a few months back and are going to invest more in this category.

 
With K-12, you will have more competition from established players like Byju’s and Vedantu. Any comments?

 
Our product is significantly better than anything else out there in the market and we take pride in building the best products in the market. We are aggressive in scaling up as well. After this round, we have a huge responsibility to build great education products for the country and the world.

 
What are the new products that you’re planning to build?

 
There are several products in R&D stage which we will launch in the next two months. We have recently launched ‘Graphy’ which allows users to explore stories, ideas, books via video, audio, images. It is seeing immense traction and we will scale it up further.

 
Any plans for inorganic expansion?

 
Not as of now as we have a lot on our plate. Our 18-month goal is to become cash flow positive.

 
Any plans to take the product beyond India at some point?

 
We are not looking at it as of now, but ‘yes’, at some point, we will start looking.

 
Your appetite for funds seems to have gone up significantly. Is preparation for the next round also underway?

 
We are adequately funded for the next one-and-a-half or two years. We are not looking for any more funds for now.

 
What kind of a revenue bracket are you in now?

 
We are doing an annual run rate of almost $120 million right now.

 


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