Mumbai-based online higher education startup upGrad has bought Impartus, a video-learning solutions provider, for INR 150 crore (USD 20.5 million) in a cash and stocks deal.
The development comes three weeks after upGrad raised USD 120 million from Singapore-headquartered Temasek to pursue mergers and acquisitions (M&A) opportunities, expand its graduate and post-graduate degree portfolio in India, and scale its operations globally.
The deal will give an exit to Impartus’s existing investor Kaizen, which had invested USD 4.1 million in the eight-year-old startup in 2015. About INR 50 crore (USD 6.8 million) from the deal proceeds will be used to further scale Impartus this fiscal year.
Impartus, now a 100% subsidiary of upGrad, is being rebranded as ‘upGrad Campus,’ the two companies said in a media statement on Monday.
Impartus co-founder Amit Mahensaria will take over as chief executive of upGrad Campus and will continue to “grow the business independently,” as it looks to “close the current financial year with around INR 85 crore (USD 11.6 million) revenue”, the statement added.
Edtech on the rise
upGrad was founded in 2015 by veteran entrepreneurs Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, and Phalgun Kompalli to offer upskilling courses for students and working professionals. The startup currently has over 100 courses on its platform in collaboration with global universities like Duke Corporate Education, Michigan State University, Liverpool John Moores University, Deakin Business School, and Swiss School of Business Management, among others.
The company said it has over 1 million registered users across 50 countries and that it has recently achieved an annual revenue run rate of USD 165 million.
Impartus, on the other hand, was set up in 2013 by Mahensaria, Alok Choudhary, and Manish Kumar, and helps colleges and other educational institutions offer virtual classes through its video-learning platform that enables learner-teacher engagement. The startup, which currently has over 280 universities that use its platform, has onboarded 60,000 professors and 600,000 students in the last seven years. Moreover, it has opened offices across India, China, and Hong Kong.
Impartus’ acquisition fits well with upGrad’s vision to expand its product portfolio, strengthen its presence in the higher education market, and grow its overseas operations. With this acquisition, upGrad aims to add at least 50,000 new students for its courses this fiscal year.
Ronnie Screwvala, upGrad chairman and co-founder, told local media Mint that the company would continue to “scout for acquisitions to bring in short-format courses averaging around three months to bolster its presence in the US, Australia, and Indonesia.”
Despite being bootstrapped before raising capital from Temasek last month, upGrad has made five acquisitions and acqui-hires in the last six years of its existence. The list includes online training software platform Pyoopil; online job skilling platform Acadview; product community platform CohortPlus; competitive test preparation firm the Gate Academy; and staffing solutions platform Rekrut India. Impartus is its sixth acquisition.
Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, bigger edtech firms like Byju’s and Unacademy have been on an acquisition spree, having raised millions of dollars from global VCs. According to a report by the Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and PGA Labs, local edtech startups raised a total of USD 2.22 billion in 2020 compared to USD 553 million in 2019.
This has led to increased M&A activity in edtech, which has emerged as one of the most competitive sectors. Between March and December 2020, the South Asian nation saw about 14 edtech M&As.
The trend has continued well into this year as investors remain bullish on online education platforms amid the ongoing healthcare crisis in the world’s second-most-populous country. For instance, earlier this year, Byju’s acquired brick-and-mortar test prep company Aakash Educational Services for USD 950 million, while Unacademy bought Tap Chief, a networking platform for professionals, for an undisclosed sum.
India’s edtech industry is projected to reach USD 30 billion in size over the next decade from the current USD 700–800 million, as per a recent report by advisory firm RBSA Advisors.