The latest unicorn to enter India’s fast-growing unicorn club is an Indian edtech business that has made substantial inroads in smaller Indian cities and villages with its low-cost learning solutions.
PW (PhysicsWallah) has raised $100M in Series A funding, according to the profitable firm. The startup’s first institutional round was funded by Westbridge and GSV Ventures, valuing the two-year-old company at $1.1B (post-money).
The edtech company has stated that it will use the capital to expand its business, market itself, introduce new courses, and create more learning centres across India.
PhysicsWallah is an edtech firm which was founded in 2020 by Alakh Pandey and Prateek Maheshwari with an emphasis on competitive test study for NEET and IIT/JEE. PW began as a YouTube channel in 2016, and the app and website were developed by the two co-founders in 2020.
More than 10,000 of its students have passed NEET and JEE in 2020 and 2021, according to India’s seventh edtech unicorn.
Unlike its larger competitors, Byju’s and Unacademy, who charge tens of thousands of dollars for a course, PW charges as little as $4 and has tens of thousands of paying customers.
Alakh Pandey, cofounder and CEO of PhysicsWallah, said, “This latest development will help us further our vision and implement new initiatives to augment the learning journeys of students, thereby enabling them to reach new heights in their careers. Our commitment remains ‘every dollar spent in PW is for the greater good of learners’.”
Pandey further added that the company has been profitable from its beginning, with positive cash flows and reserves. “Compared to 2020-2021, our revenue increased 9-fold in 2021-2022.” He continued, “Our current run rate for FY 2023 is $65M.”
The funding round comes as the edtech sector has suffered a wave of layoffs amid fears of a general funding freeze. In 2022, eight edtech businesses have already laid off over 3,000 staff, including Unacademy and Vedantu.
Sandeep Singhal, MD, Westbridge Capital, said, “PW is one of the rare startups with a profound understanding of the education that Bharat today needs. The founder’s focus on learning outcomes of students excites us and we look forward to a long partnership with them”.
PW, which has nearly 7M subscribers on YouTube and offers both online and offline sessions, has grown in prominence. Its teachers, including Pandey, have a significant and devoted following on Google’s site, where they post free videos expressing their enthusiasm for PW and occasionally amusingly mocking other edtech platforms, which they accuse of being in it for the “money.”
By 2025, PhysicsWallah plans to deliver educational content in nine vernacular languages, with a target audience of more than 250M pupils.
PW will also open 20 offline tutoring centres across the country, after already establishing 20 in 18 locations. It has more than 10,000 students enrolled for the 2022-2023 session, according to PhysicsWallah.