With the rapid surge in internet and smartphone users across India, turning to online platforms for various tasks has become the norm. Education is no exception. Online tutoring offers numerous advantages, including cost-effective courses, adaptable schedules, and round-the-clock access for clarifying doubts and queries. Consequently, online learning has gained popularity among individuals of all age groups. Mumbai-based startup upGrad is at the forefront of harnessing the potential of online education, making it accessible to a wide audience.
UpGrad has established partnerships with prestigious institutions to offer career-focused courses, catering to the needs of Indian students and working professionals seeking career advancement. In its most recent funding round on August 9, 2021, the company secured $40 million in funding, with leading contributions from Temasek Holdings, IFC, and IIFL. This significant investment elevated upGrad’s valuation to over $1.2 billion, positioning it as the third unicorn in the Edtech sector. Presently, upGrad boasts a valuation exceeding $2.25 billion.
Founders and Leadership Team:
The upGrad learning platform was established in 2015 by a team of visionary individuals, including Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli, and Ravijot Chugh.
Ronnie Screwvala, serving as the Chairman of upGrad, is a prominent figure in the Indian television industry. He is the founder of UTV Group, which is now part of Walt Disney India. Ronnie is also recognized as the founder trustee of the Swades Foundation, the founder of Unilazer Ventures, a Board of Advisor for AIESEC India, and the founder of RSVP Movies. His influence extends globally, having been featured on Esquire’s List of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century. Additionally, he ranked 78th among the 100 most influential people in the world on Time Magazine’s Time 100 list in 2009. Fortune Magazine also acknowledged him as one of the 25 Asia’s Most Powerful People, and Newsweek likened him to the “Jack Warner of India.”
How it Started?
Mayank, with extensive experience in the education sector as an advisor and investor, recognized the potential of online education due to its cost-efficiency and vast student reach. Online courses proved to be 53% more cost-effective than their offline counterparts, thanks to reduced infrastructure expenses. Moreover, the flexibility of online learning, including timing and schedules, made it a convenient option. Consequently, numerous online education ventures emerged to cater to the growing demand for online courses.
While K-12 companies and MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) platforms existed, none offered formal education combined with a comprehensive learning experience. Mayank anticipated a surge in demand for online technical certifications, given the expanding working population. However, the online higher education space remained largely untapped. This insight paved the way for the birth of upGrad in 2015, aimed at filling this gap in the market.
UpGrad’s primary revenue source is the commission it levies on the fees collected by universities, constituting 50.3% of its total revenues. Another significant portion, amounting to 49.1% of its revenues, is generated from the sale of its proprietary edtech courses. The remaining portion of its revenue stream is attributed to the recruitment services offered by upGrad.
In the fiscal year 2020-21 (FY21), upGrad recorded revenue growth across these three segments. Revenue from commissions surged by an impressive 68.4% in FY21, reaching Rs 152 crore, up from the reported Rs 90.2 crore in FY20. Additionally, income from the sale of its courses saw substantial growth, increasing by 105.5% to Rs 148.2 crore in FY21, compared to Rs 72.1 crore in FY20. The remaining portion, amounting to Rs 1.8 crore, was generated through its recruitment services. Overall, the company’s total collections experienced substantial growth, rising by 86% in FY21.
Revenue And Growth
Over the past few years, upGrad has experienced remarkable revenue growth. It recorded a substantial 113% increase in gross revenue, rising from INR 57 crores ($7.8 million) in FY18 to INR 121 crores ($16.7 million) in FY19. The company’s total revenue reached INR 163 crores ($22.4 million) in FY20. upGrad has achieved an impressive Annual Revenue Run rate (ARR) of INR 1200 crores ($165.4 million). The company’s strategic plans for 2021 and 2022 include international expansion and strategic acquisitions to further enhance its growth. Additionally, upGrad aims to reach a revenue run rate of $500 million by the end of March 2022.
During FY21, upGrad’s revenues surged by approximately 86%, surpassing Rs 302 crore, marking a significant increase from the FY20 figure of Rs 162.31 crore.
Introducing the Startup India Learning Program:
In 2017, UpGrad collaborated with ‘Invest India’ to introduce the ‘Startup India Learning Program,’ a free online entrepreneurship course initiated by Startup India.
Their customer outreach strategy also involved forming partnerships with entrepreneurship-focused publications to increase awareness. To expand their learner base, they strategically targeted subject-specific channels. Additionally, they established partnerships with universities to launch new programs, which further contributed to the growth of their existing offerings.
UpGrad has established affiliations with several esteemed educational institutions, including:
- International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-B).
- Birla Institute of Technology and Science, commonly referred to as BITS Pilani.
- Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE).
- Cambridge Judge Business School.
- Institute of Management Technology (IMT Ghaziabad).
- HDFC Life for insurance-related courses.
- IIT Madras, for a certification course on Machine Learning and Cloud.
As part of its strategic vision, upGrad unveiled significant plans in April 2020, aimed at expanding its learner base and revenue. These strategic initiatives include:
- Launching 35 new and diverse online programs over the coming years.
- Transitioning all 90 online programs to monthly start dates, meeting the rising demand more efficiently.
- Pioneering the disbursement of university-approved degrees in India through blended, online degree programs.
- Expanding its global presence by targeting the sizable South Asian migrant population, estimated at 40 million worldwide.
- Establishing an additional 26 offline experience centers, complementing the 26 already in operation.
In the next five years, upGrad has set an ambitious goal of training and empowering over 1 million learners, with an anticipated ripple effect benefitting at least 5 million working professionals. This growing ecosystem will ultimately position upGrad as India’s premier online higher education company with a strong emphasis on employability.
The company is on the cusp of transforming the online learning landscape and elevating the employability prospects of its learners.
Q1: What is UpGrad?
A: UpGrad is India’s leading online education company that offers a wide range of career-oriented programs and courses to help individuals enhance their skills and advance their careers.
Q2: Who are the founders of UpGrad?
A: UpGrad was founded in 2015 by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli, and Ravijot Chugh.
Q3: How has UpGrad contributed to online education in India?
A: UpGrad has played a significant role in transforming the online education landscape in India by offering high-quality courses and degree programs in collaboration with prestigious universities and institutions.
Q4: What are some key milestones in UpGrad’s journey?
A: UpGrad achieved unicorn status with a valuation exceeding $1.2 billion. It also expanded its offerings, international presence, and experienced rapid revenue growth.
Q5: How has UpGrad impacted the employability of its learners?
A: UpGrad focuses on providing career-focused programs, which has resulted in improved employability and career opportunities for its learners.
Q6: What are UpGrad’s future plans and initiatives?
A: UpGrad plans to launch new online programs, offer university-approved degrees, expand globally, and establish offline experience centers. Their goal is to train over 1 million learners and impact at least 5 million working professionals.
The success story of UpGrad represents a remarkable journey in the realm of online education in India. Founded in 2015, UpGrad has swiftly risen to become a pioneer and leader in the field, making quality education accessible to learners across the country. With visionary founders and strategic partnerships, UpGrad has not only achieved unicorn status but has also positively impacted the careers and employability of countless individuals.
The company’s commitment to providing career-focused programs, its expansion into international markets, and the introduction of innovative initiatives underscore its dedication to transforming the online learning landscape. With ambitious plans for the future, including the launch of new programs, university-approved degrees, and global expansion, UpGrad is poised to continue its journey towards excellence and further solidify its position as India’s premier online education leader.
Stay informed with the latest updates and breaking news, brought to you by radiumnews.