While most ed-tech companies are under pressure and laying off employees, Alakh Pandey led ed-tech startup, PhysicsWallah, raised $100 million this week, making it India's 101st unicorn. But unlike most of India's unicorns, PhysicsWallah is profitable.
In business, a unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over US$1 billion.
Alakh Pandey has inspired millions through his teaching, but his journey and life story are just as inspiring.
Alakh hails from Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh and has faced financial difficulties since childhood. His necessity led him to teach students from a very early age. In class 11th, he used to cycle a few kilometres to teach class 9th students. In class 12th, he dreamt of becoming a Math teacher, shared a Twitter user.
He dropped out of college in his third year and started teaching Physics at a coaching institute in Kanpur. There, students absolutely loved how he taught. Even the coaching's head was impressed and advised him to start a YouTube channel. So, his necessity combined with his love for teaching, gave birth to Physics Wallah in 2014.
In the beginning, there wasn't much growth on the YouTube channel, as Alakh was focussing more on his offline lectures than online. But the positive feedback made Alakh shift his focus. By 2019, he had over 2 million subscribers on the channel. And today, that has increased to close to 7 million subscribers.
Then came 2020, and the pandemic hit. Students started demanding more online courses. This high demand for online education led Alakh to launch the Physics Wallah app in June 2020.
While other platforms like Byju's and Unacademy were offering courses in lakhs, Physics Wallah's courses started at just ₹999, giving him the competitive advantage.
Unhappy with the competition, other ed-tech companies started offering him crores to join them. He even received offers for 75 crores, but Alakh rejected all the offers. Institutes even started poaching Physics Wallah's teachers, but that didn't deter him and he kept going.
Today, Physics Wallah is a profitable ed-tech startup with 6 million students, 1500 employees and ₹350 crores in revenue.
And with its latest $100 million funding, PhysicsWallah plans to grow even further.
PW (PhysicsWallah) will be utilizing these funds for business expansion, branding, opening more PW offline centres, and introducing courses in other vernacular languages.
- Alakh Pandey