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India’s Lead School raises $30 million to reach more students – TechCrunch

An Indian startup that is helping digitize and transform affordable private schools to better serve students from middle and low-income groups of families said on Monday it has raised $30 million in a new financing round as it looks to scale its efforts in the world’s second most populous nation.

GSV Ventures and WestBridge led the Series D financing round of the Indian startup, which has raised over $69 million to date.

LEAD School, founded by Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah in 2012, has developed an integrated system to help K-12 schools with the curriculum they teach, how they teach them, secure books and other resources, and better evaluate the learning outcome.

Tthe startup set up its own schools in rural areas in India in its early years to identify the challenges that students and teachers faced. A key insight they found was that students struggled with english and needed years-worth of learning to be able to just fully understand any other subject.

“We were always data centric. We measured our performance based on student data. How well our classes looked was not a criteria for success,” said Deorah in an interview with TechCrunch.

“Schools and educators have always known how to measure learning outcome. It’s not new and fairly researched. Whether that’s the core of what you are gunning for, or if it is the scale that you are going after is an organizational choice.”

And that bet is paying off. Even an average student in a Lead School-powered institution today has over 75% mastery on all subjects and attains over 1.5-year of English learning, said Deorah. “This is not a small cohort data,” she added.

Over the years, LEAD School has started to work with affordable private schools. Deorah said this strategy has helped the startup scale its technology stack and serve more students.

Amid the global pandemic, which prompted New Delhi to shut schools last year, LEAD School’s offering has proven even more useful to schools. The startup, which today caters to over 2,000 schools and 800,000 students, grew by 3X last year, it said.

“LEAD School is rapidly emerging as a paradigm for transforming K-12 education. Based in India and partnered with affordable school owners (a segment that is larger than the entire US K-12 system), LEAD serves over 800,000 students today,” said Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner at GSV Ventures, in a statement.

“LEAD has experienced tremendous growth because of its consistent delivery of high academic outcomes to students and high ‘return on education’ to teachers, school owners and parents. GSV is honored to be investing in an organization that is changing the life trajectory of so many students.”

This is a developing story. More to follow…

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