camila August 10, 2021

BENGALURU (BLOOMBERG) – UpGrad has raised US$185 million (S$251 million) from Temasek and other investors over a span of a few months this year, garnering a valuation of US$1.2 billion that ranks it as India’s third-largest edtech unicorn.

The higher education start-up doubled in valuation within 60 days of its first financing round of US$120 million from Temasek, later adding another US$65 million from latest backers International Finance Corporation and India’s IIFL. In a release, the start-up referenced but did not confirm Indian media reports it is now in discussions to raise US$400 million at a US$4 billion valuation.

India’s education start-ups are riding an upswell of demand during the Covid-19 pandemic that has buoyed leader Byju’s and smaller rivals like Unacademy and UpGrad. Dozens of start-ups have closed funding rounds from global investors betting on Indian-built start-ups going international.

“We are very focused on our path to being in the top 3-5 companies globally in EdTech and serve the one billion workforce across the age group of 18 to 60 years,” UpGrad’s chairman and co-founder Ronnie Screwvala said in a statement. The start-up will announce more acquisitions shortly, he said.

The 64-year-old Mumbai-based entrepreneur pioneered cable television in India in the 1980s, then built a unicorn acquired by Walt Disney.

UpGrad, his latest venture, was established in 2015. At an annual revenue run rate of more than US$165 million, UpGrad said in April it will use the capital to scale up in overseas markets, make acquisitions, expand its graduate degree portfolio and launch an app to offer everything from masters classes to soft skills training. Mr Screwvala had said sales would double every year and the firm is targeting US$2 billion in revenue by 2026.

UpGrad Education, as the start-up is formally called, offers more than 100 courses in subjects like data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, coding, finance and law, in collaboration with universities like Michigan State University and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

About a million learners, mainly from India as well as four dozen other countries, take courses that run from six months to two years and cost between 250,000 rupees (S$4,560) and 500,000 rupees. The start-up is expanding across South-east Asia and Europe, tailoring courses for each market and offering them in local languages.