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Lead School joins the unicorn club

Edtech start-up Lead School which offers integrated software for schools, has raised $100 million in fresh funding at a valuation of $1.1 billion, making it the country’s third unicorn in 2022.

Lead School’s Series E funding round was led by WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures. To date, the start-up has raised close to $166 million in funding, including the current round. The edtech start-up’s valuation has doubled in the last nine months on the back of strong growth in its operating and financial metrics. The current round is its fifth round of institutional funding since 2017.

While most of the large Edtech unicorns, including Byju’s, Unacademy and upGrad, focus on test-prep for K-12 and higher education, and executive-level courses, Lead School is the first unicorn in the edtech space focused on offering tools and software for core schooling.

Founded by Sumeet Yashpal Mehta and Smita Deorah in 2012, Lead claims to have seen rapid adoption of its software tools in the last four years. It plans to onboard more than 5,000 schools in 500 cities by academic year-end 2022-2023 with an annual run-rate of $80 million. This translates to more than 2 million students accessing its platform in the next one year.

The start-up plans to use the proceeds to achieve its vision of providing quality affordable education to 25 million students with an annual revenue run-rate of $1 billion. The immediate focus would be towards product and curriculum innovation, growth in its footprint and hiring top talent across functions. In the long term, the company plans to go deeper in the country to serve students in lower fee schools and expand internationally in similar geographies.

“An average student spends six hours in school and only one hour in tuitions. Transforming schools, when done right, has massive potential to alter our country’s future. Lead, with its integrated school system has broken new ground in this direction. Our intense focus has been on learning outcomes and life success of our students. And this has resulted in not only strong adoption and retention by schools but also interest from investors who value returns with real impact, Lead co-founders said in a statement.

“Lead has emerged as the gold standard for transforming K-12 education in India. The company acts as the Intel inside for affordable schools and guarantees 70%+ mastery in all subjects and all grades for low/middle income students and exceeds the guarantee. With this strong and unique value proposition and exceptional management team, Lead is well on its path to become world’s largest and most impactful School Edtech company,” added Deborah Quazzo, managing partner, GSV Ventures.

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