India’s LEAD School becomes unicorn with new $100 million funding

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Despite the recent boom of consumer-focused education learning platforms in India, the majority of students in the South Asian nation remain unreserved. The current B2C offering is too expensive for most students and skewed heavily towards those preparing for competitive exams in high school.

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Lead School, a nine-year-old startup, is addressing this disconnect by leveraging an infrastructure that already has a wide reach in the country: schools. And the model is working.

Westbridge Capital and GSV Ventures, a current backer, said on Thursday that they have spearheaded the Series E funding of LEED School. The new funding round, which accelerates LEAD School’s all-time growth to $169 million, values ​​the startup at $1.1 billion.

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LEAD Schools, founded by couple Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deora, works with thousands of K-12 schools (most of them serving low-income families; LEAD estimates it will have more than 5,000 schools in April, when the new season starts), where it has integrated its platform which helps them to secure books and other resources from vendors, thereby reducing middlemen and bringing quality assurance.

But more importantly, why the couple started LEED School in the first place, the startup helps educators design curricula, and helps students find ways to better express concepts and evaluate learning outcome. helps.

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The startup works closely with the students to understand the areas where they need improvement. Lead School has found that the biggest challenge most students face is understanding English, a factor that affects the way they understand other subjects as well.

In an interview with Nerdshala, Devra said, the focus on clearing the fundamentals with priority has helped the students of LEAD school-run institutions to score more than 70% marks in all subjects.

“Typically for a school that partners with LEAD, this increases students’ learning outcomes by 20 to 25%,” she said, adding that the startup expects to serve 2 million students in April. “What has made us proud is the result of the students. It has helped us reach the scale where we are today.”

The pandemic, which has prompted New Delhi and state governments to close schools several times, has posed an additional hurdle for students. Most of these students are from families that do not have more than one smartphone or other device at home. To combat this, LEAD School has worked with teachers to offer live as well as asynchronous virtual classes so that students can view lessons and complete homework with more flexibility, she said.

“Here we are talking about homes where children do not have personal devices. Of the children we serve, hardly five to 10 per cent of parents have bought a tablet for them,” she said. “Synchronous learning is not possible in this ecosystem.”

“The quality of education at LEED is already revolutionizing the way Indian students are taught at large,” said Rohan Malhotra, managing partner at Good Capital, one of the startup’s early proponents.

More to follow soon.

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