Byju Raveendran is an Indian entrepreneur whose educational technology and online tutoring firm Byju’s has captured the market in online learning. Since its launch in 2011, the firm has grown at an incredible rate. Today, it’s among the most valuable private internet companies in India. Unsurprisingly, Raveendran’s own fortunes have grown in line with Byju’s, making him one of the youngest billionaires in India. To find out more, take a look at these ten things you didn’t know about Byju Raveendran.
1. Both of his parents are teachers
Considering his background, it’s probably not too surprising that Raveendran has chosen the career he has. Raveendran was born in 1981 in the village of Kerala, India. Both of his parents were teachers: his mother taught mathematics and his father taught Physics. Both taught in the same school that Raveendran attended. Coincidently enough, his strongest subjects were mathematics and science. According to topsuccessstory.com, neither of his parents ever pressured Raveendran academically. Rather, they encouraged him to get involved in sports. It obviously had the desired effect, as by the time he was studying Mechanical Engineering at Government Engineering College in Kannur, he was active on the football, table tennis, badminton, and cricket teams.
2. He began his career as an engineer
Although both his parents worked in education, Raveendran harbored ambitions of a different kind, at least at first. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Government Engineering College, Raveendran took the first steps on the career ladder with a job as a service engineer with a UK-based shipping firm called Pan Ocean Shipping Ltd. From there, he moved on to an IT firm, where he spent large parts of the year traveling extensively both across India and overseas. His future seemed set…. until a vacation with friends in Bangalore changed everything.
3. He passed the CAT exam without studying
In 2003, Raveendran was vacationing in Bangalore. While there, he visited some friends who were preparing for the CAT exam. Keen to help out, he gave them some advice about how best to approach the exam questions. His friends passed the exam with flying colors… as, indeed, did Raveendran, who’d decided to sit the test for fun. Despite not having planned for the exam at all, he managed to score 100 percent. Convinced it was just a fluke, he tried the exam a second time, only to again pass it at 100 percent. Vacation over, Raveendran went back to his old job, but the seeds of change had already been planted. His friends began encouraging him to use his unique methods and applications to coach other students for exams. Soon enough, that’s exactly what he did.
4. He started small
Buoyed with enthusiasm for his new direction in life, Raveendran quit his job and turned the terrace of his friend’s house into a classroom. Tempted by his offer of a free 7-day trial, students started trickling in. Once the word spread about his novel approach to teaching, they stopped trickling and started flooding. Soon, there were so many of them Raveendran was forced to rent official classroom space. But before long, even that wasn’t big enough. Once he moved his lessons from the classroom to the auditorium, the only way was up. Before long, he was traveling between 7 different cities each week teaching over 20000 students.
5. He founded Think and Learn in 2011
By 2010, Raveendran had started recording his lessons to allow even more students to access his material. Keen to see how far he could take the approach, he founded the educational company ‘Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd.’ to offer online video-based learning programs for K-12 students. Shortly after, he teamed up with Divya Gokulnath to begin developing the education tutoring application Byju’s. After four years in development, the app was launched in 2015. Almost overnight, it became the go-to app for distance learners.
6. He’s attracted interest from Mark Zuckerberg
Within just one year of its launch, Byju’s was attracting huge interest, both in India and overseas. In 2016, Raveendran became the first Asian startup founder to attract investment from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s The Chan-Zukerberg initiative. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, enlisting Shahrukh Khan as its brand ambassador, becoming the official sponsor of the Indian Cricket Team’s jersey, and raising enough investments from the likes of BlackRock, T Rowe Price, Silver Lake, and Tiger Global to push its valuation to US$12 billion, a figure that puts it in line for the title of India’s most valuable private internet company.
7. He thinks the pandemic will introduce a golden age of teaching
The upsides to the COIVD pandemic may have been few and far between, but Raveendran is anticipating at least one good thing to come out of it. Speaking via devdiscourse.com, he outlines his belief that the pandemic will lead to a blended approach to classroom and digital learning that can only spell good things for the educational community. ”It’s actually a change for the good,” he says. “Teachers are using digital tools, though in the initial days it was a challenge for them to even use PPTs…parents are accepting this format…maybe for the first time in the last 100 years, our classrooms will change.”
8. He’s one of the youngest billionaires in India
As per GQ India, Raveendran ranks as one of the youngest billionaires in India. He made his debut on the Forbes India Rich list in 2019 with a net worth of $1.91 billion, which gave him the 72nd highest net worth in India.
9. He wants to make learning fun
If there’s one thing Raveendran wants to achieve more than anything else, it’s to make learning fun. Speaking to rediff.com, he discussed how he intends Byju’s to be to kids’ learning what Disney is to kids’ entertainment. “We have used technology in such a way that kids enjoy learning like the way they enjoy entertainment,” he says. “Our motto is, making students fall in love with learning and like learning.”
10. He’ll never stop teaching
Running Byju’s may involve more time in the boardroom than it does in the classroom, but Raveendran hasn’t lost his passion for teaching. If he’s got any free time in his schedule, he makes sure to fill it with a class or two.