Despite the recent boom of consumer-focused education learning platforms in India, the vast majority of students in the South Asian nation remain unserved. The existing B2C offerings are expensive for most of the students and are heavily skewed towards those in high-school preparing for competitive exams.
LEAD School, a nine-year-old startup, is addressing this disconnect by leveraging an infrastructure that already has a wide reach in the nation: schools. And the model is working.
WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures, an existing backer, said on Thursday they have led Lead School’s Series E funding. The new financing round, which pushes LEAD School’s all-time raise to $169 million, values the startup at $1.1 billion.
LEAD School, founded by couple Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah, works with thousands of K-12 schools (most of them serve low-income families; LEAD estimates it will have over 5,000 schools in April, when the new session starts), where it has integrated its platform that helps them secure books and other resources from vendors, thereby cutting middlemen and bringing quality assurance.
But more importantly, and why the couple started LEAD School in the first place, the startup helps teachers design the curriculum, and find ways to better convey the concepts to students and evaluate the learning outcome.
The platform today serves 2 million students, with whom the startup works closely to understand the areas where they need improvements. LEAD School has found that the biggest challenge most students face is in understanding English, a factor that also impacts how they grasp most other subjects.
Focusing on clearing the fundamentals with priority has helped students in LEAD School-powered institutions score over 70% in mastery on all subjects, said Deorah in an interview with TechCrunch.
“Typically for a school that partners with LEAD, this uplifts the students’ learning outcome by 20 to 25%,” she said.
“LEAD’s quality of education is already revolutionising the way in which Indian students are taught at scale,” said Rohan Malhotra, Managing Partner at Good Capital, a venture firm that is one of the earliest backers of the startup.
More to follow shortly.