Temasek Leads upGrad’s $120 Million Funding Round

By Adriaan Brits Monday, April 26, 2021

UpGrad, a major Indian higher edtech startup, raised $120 million in a business financing round led by Temasek Holdings, an investment company owned by the Government of Singapore.

This marks the first time the Indian startup company has received external funding. Before the funding round, upGrad was financed by its founder Ronnie Screwvala and other founding members.

An excited businessman looking at his laptop.

Fueling Global Expansion

UpGrad is headed for the $1 billion business valuation following the latest funding round.

“We are not quite a unicorn but we’ll get there soon,” Screwvala said.

A number of Indian educational technology, or edtech, startup companies are trying to leverage the K-12 and test prep market, with two startup businesses, Byju’s and Unacademy, have already become unicorns.

upGrad, however, has a slightly different focus that involves older Indians who look to specialize in certain areas or are looking for an additional degree and better prep for entry exams. The edtech startup plans to use the fresh capital to scale to international markets, make business acquisitions, grow its graduate degree portfolio, as well as roll out an app that will provide students with master classes, soft skills training, and more.

“We welcome Temasek in our mission to power career success for each and every member of the global workforce as their trusted LifeLongLearning partner and drive meaningful career outcomes. This capital will further fuel our commitment towards global expansion as well as deeper India penetration, as we march forward with our goal of making India the teaching capital of the world,” the co-founders said in a statement.

upGrad’s business sales are doubling each year, and the startup company is looking to hit $2 billion in business revenue by 2026, said Screwvala. He said the edtech company expects to raise new business funding in the following 3-6 months.

Ronnie Screwvala, who also founded the entertainment business giant UTV that was later sold to Disney, founded upGrad in 2015 with two other co-founders Mayank Kumar and Phalgun Kompalli.

The higher edtech company initially offered classes on entrepreneurship and data science but has expanded much beyond that over the years. Screwvala also manages his own business investment company to back startup companies and runs a family nonprofit business, Swades Foundation, which fights to reduce rural poverty.

At the moment, upGrad offers more than 100 courses in a number of areas including data science, AI, machine learning, programming, finance and law, in partnership with universities such as Michigan State University and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

The edtech startup has about a million students, most of which are based in India and 48 other countries. Courses typically last from six months to two years and are priced between 250,000 rupees ($3,300) and 500,000 rupees ($6,687). upGrad is also currently expanding in Southeast Asia and other areas, offering specific courses for each market in local languages.

The K-12 online education sector grew rapidly amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the e-learning boom is expected to emerge after the world recovers from the pandemic, Screwvala believes.

“Online higher education startups like ours target every person from the time they enter college to the time they retire segment has three times the potential of K-12 online learning.”

Summary

Ronnie Screwvala’s higher education startup upGrad raised $120 million in a funding round led by Temasek Holdings, taking the company’s valuation closer to the unicorn territory.

About the Author


Headshot for author Adriaan Brits
As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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