Edtech With A Global Reach

Arjun Nair’s stress on getting the unit economics right saw Great Learning continuing its record of being profitable even during a difficult year for most tech startups

How was 2022 for tech businesses? This is a difficult year not just for startups but for most tech businesses.

 It is a natural correction after the boost businesses got from the easy supply of money, as governments across the world printed currency to keep consumption high and interest rates low. Now, of course, money supply has to be reined in to control inflation. Startups that did not get their unit economics right are facing pain because they never had a solid business model to begin with. In our case, Great Learning has been profitable throughout its 8-year history before the acquisition. As a startup, we had to deal with the same challenges that many companies have in quickly adapting to become cash flow neutral.

Are layoffs the right thing to do to tackle funding winter?

While we did not do layoffs, we stopped hiring in certain areas early on to make us lean. Right now, however, we are again hiring in certain areas and expect to add headcount over the next few months. Finally, education is also generally counter-cyclical to economic recession. Most people tend to upskill to become job relevant when they fear layoffs. We do not see a demand issue and expect to grow. The market will take some time for the excess money supply to disappear and the correction to stabilise.

Where do you foresee your company in 2023?

In India, while we already have a sizable business, we continue to see growth opportunities for certain customer segments. Great Learning expects to continue growing in 2023 despite a likely global recession. We believe we are well-positioned to continue helping learners upskill around the world, especially when they have to differentiate themselves to stay relevant and keep their jobs.

What are the geographies you intend to venture into?

We plan to continue expanding in regions such as the Indian subcontinent, North America, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. We are focused on both organic and inorganic growth. We have already made a couple of acquisitions and are looking at making more in the future. We have been offering programmes across various business, technology, and interdisciplinary domains that drive the digital economy. The plan is to now also offer courses in areas such as renewable energy, sustainability and climate change.

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