The Origin Story
Gaurav Munjal has an agelong passion for tech, and he began coding in grade 12. He attended St. Xavier’s Secondary School, where he was active in the Science club. After that, he bagged a computer engineering degree at NMIMS University.
While in college, he created a YouTube channel where he uploaded video tutorials on Java programming and other concepts. He later renamed the channel Uncademy.
Juggling Multiple Tasks
After graduation, Gaurav founded his first business called Flatchat. He built it to help people get suitable flatmates. He also worked as a software developer at Directi. All the while, Gaurav was still managing his YouTube channel.
In 2015, he later sold Flatchat to CommonFloor–a real estate portal.
Startup Launch: Finding Business Partners
Gaurav narrated his startup idea of developing an online educational platform to his close friends. He started with Roman Saini. Roman was a young, brainy student with outstanding academic performance. At age 16, he cracked the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) admissions exams. Consequently, Roman excelled in the UPSC exam to become an IAS officer. He was the perfect business partner for Munjal’s startup idea.
He left his job to help Munjal transform his plans into a working business solution. One more hand on deck, and Unacademy’s founding team was set to go. Hemesh Singh, Gaurav’s business partner & former CTO at Flatchat, joined the team.
Expanding Beyond YouTube
The Unacademy app was launched in 2015. The India-based, online educational platform provided learning resources and prepared students for competitive exams like GATE, NEET, and GEE.
Within one year, the EdTech company went mainstream, providing free educational content to students. It went viral as many learners and educators joined the Unacademy community.
The Game Changer
Unacademy experienced impressive growth in its early years. Gaurav revealed this on the company’s blog. Yet, he observed a friction point that diminished users’ experience. “We knew that learners enjoyed the live classes. But they disliked having to purchase different courses,” Gaurav said. The next day, he quickly began a brainstorming session with Roman and Hemesh. The solution was out along with some excitement: Unacademy Plus.
Unacademy Plus was a subscription product that eliminated the hassle of filling in credit card details when students needed to pick a new subject. In 2019, Unacademy Plus was integrated into 12 exam categories. The impact of Gaurav’s new solution was impressive. He said, “Product market fit sparks a strong feeling and may be better than falling in love.”
Becoming an EdTech Unicorn
Unacademy joined the unicorn club after gaining $150 million in investment funding from Softbank. The company has also gained massive funding from other investors like Tiger Global and General Atlantic. Unacademy had a valuation of $3.4 billion in 2021.
Sowing Investment Seed in Other Companies
While Unacademy experiences incredible growth, Gaurav still seeks other investment opportunities outside his company. He invested over INR 370 million in One Code, Pepper Content, Avalon Meta, and Airmeet.