Edtech unicorn PhysicsWallah acquires Xylem in regional expansion push

PhysicsWallah has acquired Xylem Learning as the Indian edtech unicorn pushes to cement its presence in the southern regions of India, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed.

PhysicsWallah, backed by WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures, valued the acquisition deal at about $30 million, according to a person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to discuss nonpublic information.

The two firms confirmed the acquisition, but declined to comment on the pricing. PhysicsWallah said in a statement that it will invest as much as 5 billion Indian rupees, or $61 million, to expand its presence in the southern Indian states.

Headquartered in Kerala, Xylem has cultivated a considerable presence across the southern Indian state by providing free classes to around 3 million students preparing for competitive engineering college entrance exams. Its operations, like those of PhysicsWallah, have been largely bootstrapped, creating an advantageous match for both entities.

Xylem, which operates 30 YouTube channels as well as offline centers, plans to expand to several more Southern Indian states post the acquisition.

Many edtech firms in India have faced regional roadblocks with north-south dichotomies over the years. With Xylem’s acquisition, PhysicsWallah hopes to mitigate these geographical challenges.

Alakh Pandey, PhysicsWallah’s founder and chief executive, spoke highly of the two startups’ parallel operational paths, dubbing Xylem as the “PhysicsWallah of the South.” Pandey said the acquisition will act as a catalyst propelling the company toward becoming the foremost education platform in South India.

“With an investment of INR 500 crore and combining our strengths and expertise, we have the remarkable opportunity to enhance the learning experience for JEE/NEET aspirants in South India, bridging the gap in quality education and expanding our addressable market in the region.”

Dr. Ananthu S, founder and chief executive of Xylem, said the startup aims to achieve a revenue of $36.6 million with a 25% EBIDTA in the financial year ending March 2024. The firm reported a revenue of $18 million in the financial year that ended in March.

“By combining our efforts, we firmly believe that we can create a significant positive impact on the lives of aspiring students preparing for NEET and JEE exams. This partnership is driven by the principles of affordability, trust, and the democratization of education. Our ultimate objective is to provide students with the best learning resources and unwavering support throughout their educational journey.”

PhysicsWallah, which started with a meager investment and a YouTube channel, offers quality education courses to students at affordable prices. Unlike its bigger rivals that levy a fee as high as tens of thousands of dollars for a course, PhysicsWallah charges students as low as $4. Founder Pandey’s charisma and lucid teaching have also amassed him a devoted following.

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