“Don’t let your ego come in between,” is one of the pieces of advice Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO of edtech unicorn Unacademy, received from his mentors when the company hit choppy waters last year. The mentors include Deepinder Goyal (Co-founder and CEO of Zomato), Bhavin Turakhia (Founder and CEO of Zeta), and Shailendra Singh (Managing Director at Peak XV Partners).
The past few months have compelled Indian unicorns to hit refresh. From chasing growth at all costs, these start-ups are today focused on the fundamentals of a business, profitability being the foremost.
Munjal recently gave a glimpse into how this transition has happened. “For us, it was about who has made it big in the venture capital space,” he said in a podcast. He also said that becoming a unicorn was one of the goals they wanted to achieve.
“When we were 25—Roman (Saini), Hemesh (Singh), and I—one of the goals was that if we could make a unicorn before 30 and it did happen,” Munjal admitted.
Munjal started the online test preparation company with Saini and Singh in 2015. Unacademy became a unicorn (a company whose valuation is $1 billion or more) in 2020. It is backed by marquee investors such as Temasek, Facebook, and SoftBank, among others.
“Looking back, should I have chased valuations the way I did? Probably not! But it did teach me a lot of things,” he shared.
Munjal pointed out that at Unacademy they have been focusing on becoming EBITDA positive in the last 12 months. For the unversed, Munjal in April announced that the firm will be reporting its first profitable month.
A slide in a presentation shared with employees internally revealed that the company is expecting to touch revenues of Rs 1,250 crore in 2023 which is a 26 per cent rise from the previous year’s revenue (it clocked Rs 992 crore in CY22). The entrepreneur also noted that the company is cash flow positive and will be so for the next 12 months. Moreover, by the end of 2023, the edtech major will have a cash balance of Rs 1,977 crore. Keeping in mind its current burn rate (Rs 17 crore), he noted that they have at least 116 months’ worth of runway.
Munjal said that the journey of overcoming tough times was not easy. “Acceptance was the major part. Listening and having that acceptance that u have ****** up...or you overhired people is important.”
He concluded by saying that “during the pandemic, the edtech industry was at its peak, 2022 was very tough but now they are slowly climbing the ladder up.”
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