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Unacademy raises $11.5 million from Sequoia India and SAIF Partners

LiveMint logoLiveMint 13-09-2017 Yuvraj Malik

New Delhi: Unacademy, a platform for educators to create multimedia content for free viewing by users, has raised $11.5 million from Sequoia India Capital Advisors and SAIF Partners, the company said on Wednesday.

Existing investors Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures participated in the round. Some early angel investors have exited Unacademy.

Started as a YouTube channel back in 2010, Unacademy was setup as a company in 2015. It offers a platform for educators from various domains to create video courses that are published on Unacademy app and website.

It has 4,000 educators on the platform and a repository of over 50,000 online video lessons.

In an interview, co-founder and chief executive Gaurav Munjal said the company will use the funds to add new features to the platform, seed content in less-developed categories like languages and job interview skills, and expand the platform to other geographies.

“To get the best educators in a category, you need to spend money, so we will do that. On the technology side, we are adding new features on the platform to help educators engage better learners. The more features the educator has, the more empowers he or she feels and the bigger the platform becomes,” Munjal said over the phone.

Unacademy recently started pilots in Brazil and Indonesia. With only a YouTube channel as a start, Munjal said the company is creating a network of content creators in these geographies and is in the process of testing different models.

Unacademy’s India YouTube channel has amassed over one million subscribers, and sits at the number two spot among Indian YouTube channels in the education category, according to video analytics platform Vidooly. Study IQ education and Mahendra Guru are at the first and the third spot, in terms of subscribers.

“Sequoia India is inspired by Unacademy’s vision to create a global platform that enables educators to create content and engage with learners. The missionary team at Unacademy is off to a tremendous start, achieving rapid early adoption and Sequoia is thrilled to be a part of their journey,” Sequoia India managing director Shailendra Singh said in a statement.

The team is now zeroing in on a revenue plan.

“There are thousands or educators having thousands of followers on the platform, so the plan revolved around getting these educators to make money,” Munjal said.

He said Unacademy may launch a feature to allow learners to contact educators for personalized courses for a fee. “The other thing is quizzes; you (educator) might add paid quizzes for a personalized experience,” Munjal said.

“With very limited investment, the team has built a strong brand and word-of-mouth reputation,” said SAIF Partners managing director Alok Goel in a statement.

Unacademy has a 60-member team based in Bengaluru. Besides Munjal, the company’s co-founders include Roman Saini, Hemesh Singh and Sachin Gupta. Munjal and Singh had earlier created Flatchat, a room-mate discovery app, that was sold to CommonFloor in 2014.

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