Unacademy in talks to raise up to $35 million


Bengaluru: Education content platform Unacademy is in talks with existing and new investors to raise $30-35 million, less than six months after it raised its previous funding round, three people familiar with the discussions said.

Unacademy, which counts Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners and SAIF Partners among its backers, has seen a sharp increase in user traffic, making it an attractive asset for investors scouting for content or education technology start-ups, the people cited above said. The company also plans to expand its international footprint, they said.

In September, Unacademy (Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. Ltd) had raised $11.5 million from Sequoia and SAIF at a valuation of around $40-50 million. The latest investment could see Unacademy’s valuation rising to $110-130 million, the people mentioned above said. All three requested anonymity.

Existing investors including Nexus, SAIF and Sequoia could participate in the current round and contribute at least half of the amount that could be raised, said the first person aware of the talks.

“The talks began roughly about a month back—right now, a deal is still a few weeks away. Unacademy has enough cash in the bank right now, so they are not desperate to raise money quickly and are in a position to set their own terms,” said the second person mentioned above.

Unacademy didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Mint reported in November that investments in content start-ups are picking up pace. Venture capital (VC) firms are particularly bullish on video and indigenous content, betting that these platforms will attract lots of Internet users who can then be shown ads.

Among educational content firms, start-ups led by Byju’s have also attracted investor interest. Unacademy, which was launched as a YouTube channel in 2010, changed tack in 2015, incorporating as a separate entity . Since launch, Unacademy has built a platform for educators from various domains to create multimedia courses that are published on its app and website. Currently, Unacademy has at least 4,000 educators on its platform and a collection of over 50,000 online video lessons. Anyone can become an educator on Unacademy after clearing a screening process.

The Bengaluru-based ed-tech start-up has also launched pilots in other countries, including Brazil and Indonesia. Its India YouTube channel has garnered well over a million subscribers, and is currently among the top five Indian YouTube channels in the education category.

Unacademy, which has over 50 employees on its rolls, was founded by CEO Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, Hemesh Singh and Sachin Gupta. Munjal and Singh had previously founded room-mate discovery start-up Flatchat, which was sold to CommonFloor in 2014. Besides Sequoia, Nexus and SAIF, the firms’s investors include Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, Freecharge founder Kunal Shah, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Blume Ventures and Tracxn Labs.livemint