The story is about the kid from a small village called Azhikode in Kerala’s Kannur District, studying at a Malayalam-medium school where both his parents were teachers. Along with education his parents also encouraged him to play sports, and he has played six different sports, including football, cricket and badminton, at the university level.
With so much time spent away from classes meant that Raveendran had to catch up with his academics on his own, and, he says, this was when he first began to develop the learning methods (hinging predominantly on visualising techniques to understand concepts) that he now imparts to the 1.6 lakh paying students on the Byju’s network, as well as those who have downloaded his free app.
Although he credits his parents with teaching him about the importance of learning, and sports with giving him a lot of the social skills and confidence that have taken him far in his business ventures… great mathematicians like Ramanujan have the ability to visualize maths problems and their solutions in 3 dimensions (which is also part of vedic maths). Probably thats what Byju did and he just shared his vision and the impact is there for all to see:
After school, Raveendran became an engineer and got an IT job that involved spending many months at a time abroad. During a vacation in Bangalore in 2003, he helped a few friends study for the CAT exam and his friends did well!!!
Then he wrote the exam for a lark and ended up scoring in the 100th percentile. He returned to his job after this, but came back to India two years later, and helped some more people with the CAT. When he got a lot of positive feedback and heard of the good results of the people he had coached, it hit Raveendran that, like his parents, he was a teacher. He quit his IT job.
What he did was he helped people to understand the problem underpinning a question and break it down into something easy to answer. He says, “you learn the best when you start asking questions, not to teachers, not to parents, but to yourself.”
The other pillar of his approach involves getting students to take on the primary responsibility for their learning by taking the pressure off, making the concepts attractive, and getting them excited about learning.
By 2008 the business taking off in multiple cities, Raveendran was suddenly travelling to nine cities a week. He kicked off revision classes that were pre-recorded and screened using WebEx (an early software that enabled screen-sharing and video conferencing for business). As demand for coaching grew and technology improved, they began to record more classes for more locations. Eventually, they switched over entirely to recorded classes, with a “mentor” present to answer doubts after the video. This is how they operate today for many of their test prep batches.
Teaching for entrance exams made them realise that students were not learning their fundamentals at the school level, and this prompted them to expand into subject coaching for classes 6-12. They were already delivering coaching for many different entrance tests through tablets that would be sent to students pre-loaded with course material, but in 2015, as phones themselves grew in screen size, they launched their mobile app, which is available for free for the first 15 days and then requires students to pay for continued and more advanced material.
Sequoia and Sofina join Byju’s classes, pump in $75M then received another $50 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,
Today with over 4 million free app downloads and 1,60,000 paid users across platforms, Byju’s is only growing bigger, claiming a 15 percent increase in students month-on-month.
Among all the hundreds of EdTech startups in India, Byju Raveendran is the only one to have cracked the problem and built up scale with good content and a great app. From 4th Std/Grade right up to CAT & JEE… there is no doubt that Byju’s is the best education application available in the World!
It was amazing meeting him in person and there is no iota of doubt that his application can play a very big role in Online Education in the world. In a world where the biggest shopping places are no longer brick & mortar, biggest taxi company do not own a real cab similarly the biggest educator do not need to have real classrooms. Your phone/tablet becomes your teacher! That’s the way to go…. jump the curve… and BYJU’s done it in style.