Gradeup - India’s Largest Online Preparation Platform for Competitive Exams!

With exponential growth in the number of internet and smartphone users in India, online learning has become popular irrespective of the age-group. Think about it this way – you have notes, recorded lectures and other reference material piling up. The million dollar question is - where do you start? When do you think you’ll finish? How do you plan out your study schedule and ensure that you’re actually making progress, rather than just convincing yourself of it? These are some of the challenges that Gradeup, with its online Live Courses, is successfully addressing.

With a vision to be India’s largest and most comprehensive online preparation destination for competitive exams, Gradeup was established in 2015 to help students prepare actively for various exams & score better. They have established & nurtured highly engaging exam-specific communities of students and mentors for SSC, Banking, Railways, Teaching, JEE, GATE, NEET, UPSC, Defense, and State level exams.

Gradeup - Company Highlights

Startup Name Gradeup
Headquarter Noida, India
Sector EdTech
Founders Shobhit Bhatnagar, Vibhu Bhushan, Sanjeev Kumar
Founded 2015
Parent Organization GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd
Website gradeup.co
Contact support@gradeup.co

About Gradeup and How it Works
Gradeup - Target Market Size
How was Gradeup Started?
Gradeup - Product/Services
Founders of Gradeup and team
Gradeup - Business Model and Revenue Model
Gradeup - User Acquisition and Growth
Gradeup - Name, Tagline, and Logo
Gradeup - Startup Challenges
Gradeup - Recognition and Achievements
Gradeup - Future Plans


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About Gradeup and How it Works

Gradeup is India’s largest online preparation platform for competitive exams with a strong user base of more than 20 million exam aspirants. Through Live classes and emphasizing a structured methodology i.e. a daily study plan, they've made exam preparation highly effective; while optimizing the process by connecting students with peers pursuing similar objectives to facilitate the exchange of notes, clear doubts, and take better preparatory decisions.

Development of a Community – With the core belief that 'people prepare better when they prepare together', Gradeup focuses on developing exam-specific communities, which is driven by, and focused towards, aspirants. It is the first & only Indian online platform to build a highly engaging community of expert mentors and students; where an aspirant can ask doubts, share updates, interact with mentors and peers to develop a 360-degree perspective on every topic in the most engaging manner.

The company offers two main programs - Gradeup Classroom and Test Series. Gradeup Classroom is a one-of its kind integrated programme, with its online Live Courses providing a comprehensive learning experience from start to finish. Test Series gives students access to mock tests based on the latest exam patterns along with previous years’ question papers and fresh questions regularly created by expert faculty.  

Gradeup - Target Market Size

The EdTech industry can be divided into segments such as the K12 segment, which can be further classified into two categories .i.e. KG to 7th class & 8th to 12th; followed by the Test preparation segment and upscaling (vocational training). Within these segments, Gradeup caters to the Test preparation segment of the market. The approximate market size of Test prep is 35M students. And Gradeup is one of the biggest players in the market with more than 20M registered students.

More students are now gravitating toward online education. More than anything, this short term situation is increasing the trust of students and the parents on EdTech. The impact of the current situation on EdTech, in the long run, will be its increased acceptance as an alternative to current offline options.

How was Gradeup Started?

Gradeup forayed into the Edtech and test preparation space in 2013. At that time, it worked with publishers and large institutes to mobilize their content and deliver it in an online, mobile-friendly manner for students preparing for competitive examinations. While this focused on utilizing content in the online space, it was clearly not enough. The learning process lacked the right level of engagement and was, thus, in-effective in improving learning outcomes. It required better direction and planning to help the aspirants.

The team realized that by focusing on learning outcomes, they can contribute significantly to this space and to a student's preparation journey. And this inspired the founders to solve this problem and fulfill the existing gaps to make online preparation more effective than ever.

"We did tons of student interviews to understand the problems that they face. While doing it we became more and more confident that these issues can be solved easily with the help of Technology. And that’s when we decided to launch Gradeup.", recalls Vibhu Bhushan, Co-founder of Gradeup.

Shobhit, Vibhu, and Sanjeev, co-founders of Gradeup, had conversations with all major VCs before they got funded. Their pitch was based on the fact that the EdTech as an industry has huge potential. Access to high-quality education across all segments of the country is an area of growth and has huge market potential especially in tier 2,3,4, cities. The question they addressed was "how we can come with a unique approach that differentiates us in the market and helps us scale faster".

"During that period, we were in conversation with various investors who all agreed to the fact that sooner or later technology will act as an agent of change in the education sector. And it was just a matter of right time and product that could initiate the disruption process for the offline education model. Our goal was to revolutionize online live learning and emerge as a pioneer in this segment.", said Vibhu Bhushan.

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Gradeup - Product/Services

Gradeup offers two main programs - Gradeup Classroom and Test Series.

Gradeup Classroom is a one-of its kind integrated program, with its online Live Courses providing a comprehensive learning experience from start to finish. It uses a number of tools and teaching techniques to enhance preparation including

  • Live quizzes and analysis
  • Weekly discussions, mock tests,
  • 24x7 mentor support
  • Mind maps
  • A day-wise study plan for each course designed and delivered by the best teachers in the country
Gradeup Classroom
Gradeup Classroom

Taking this a notch above is Test Series, which gives students access to mock tests based on the latest exam patterns along with previous years’ question papers and fresh questions regularly created by expert faculty. Students get provided with-

  • Detailed solutions
  • An in-depth analysis of their performance
  • Their all India Rank and Scorecard so that they know where they stand.

It also has an education news portal - NewsEd by Gradeup, which is aimed to help the community to stay updated with all the latest news of the sector.

Gradeup classroom has the following features:

  • The learning process: The course begins with a Live class on the relevant topics. This is followed by the students accessing ‘Mind Maps’, a unique concept through which students get to recap what they have gone through in digestible nuggets of information, resulting in complete revision in the least amount of time possible. Students are then given chapter-wise quizzes to test how much they have retained, and the answers to these quizzes are discussed along with expert faculty for greater conceptual clarity.
  • Systematic study plan: Offered to the students, the team focuses on creating a plan not just for completing the syllabus, but finishing it in a convenient way remaining motivated throughout– something that they will get hooked onto and can follow within and outside of class hours.
  • Unique and evolving framework: Strengthening the collective model through the contribution of each participant, that is a mantra Gradeup follow dearly.
  • Verified peer-to-peer learning: Gradeup has managed to build a learner's community of sorts, which is now at the heart of the learning process. Students interact with other students and mentors to solve doubts and ask questions to enrich their learning experience. As much as 95 percent of doubt-solving happens peer-to-peer!
  • Validation mechanism: What sets them apart is that the company has multiple fact-checking processes in place on its platform to filter answers based on their quality. In this way, students are only consuming material that is fact-checked and relevant, so that they do not end up misguiding each other unintentionally.
  • Building confidence: A constant knowledge-focused engagement also builds a sense of camaraderie, confidence, and healthy competition, which is extremely important for comprehensive personality development especially if they are aiming to crack prestigious competitive examinations.
  • When students enroll for a course on Gradeup Classroom, a personal mentor is assigned to them who is available 24x7 to instantly resolve any doubts that they may have.

Also, Gradeup has a dedicated cross-function Student Success Team that-

  • Manages core elements of quality content, the comprehensive study plan, constant feedback, and updates, amongst others.
  • Evaluates every piece of this data puzzle and links together the major internal and external stakeholders - aspirants, faculty, and parents – to establish a transparent communication system.
  • Keeps the parents informed, the teachers cognizant and the students motivated. Every stakeholder is kept abreast of the progress through virtual Report Cards.
  • It addresses students’ challenges, either academic or technical, sends reminders for daily academic activity, monitors students’ performance, and organizes live online parent-teacher meetings twice a month.
  • Lastly, for faculty, the team manages the interface that they can view to check overall batch performance, student-level information, and activity-level information.

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Founders of Gradeup and team

Gradeup was co-founded by Shobhit Bhatnagar, Vibhu Bhushan, and Sanjeev Kumar in 2015.

Shobhit Bhatnagar, Vibhu Bhushan, and Sanjeev Kumar
Gradeup Co-Founders

Shobhit, Vibhu, and Sanjeev collaborated and established Gradestack Learning Pvt. Ltd. All three of them are self-made and left their jobs to start their entrepreneurial journey. They started without any external support.

Shobhit Bhatnagar, CEO of Gradeup, takes care of Marketing and Community Development. He is an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta; and B.E in I.T from Punjab Engineering College. He has over 9 years of experience. Before Gradeup, he worked as a consultant with Ernst & Young and Opera Solutions. Shobhit has been a quizzer in his college days, likes traveling, and is an avid reader.

Vibhu Bhushan, CPO/COO of Gradeup, takes care of the Product and Operations. He completed his B.E in I.T from the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology. He has over 13 years of experience. Before Gradeup, he has worked with Yahoo, Infoedge, and was a founder of Floost; an interest-based network and a product of Nogle Technologies. He has been a marathon runner and has a keen interest in athletics. Vibhu has more than 7.5 years of experience in mobile and backend technologies.

Sanjeev Kumar is CTO at Gradeup. An engineer by profession, Sanjeev secured his B.Tech degree from MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur. Before Gradeup, he was associated with Infosys as System Engineer. In his free time, he likes to play sports.

Hiring is the most critical part of an organization when it is scaling at a pace. Following three things play a very important role in the company's hiring process:

  1. Culture fit
  2. Passion for work and the right attitude
  3. Depth in the area of expertise

Current Company Size: The total number of employees in the organization are 330+.

Gradeup - Business Model and Revenue Model

Gradeup is a freemium platform. Anyone who is preparing for competitive exams can download the app and visit the website to prepare for respective exams – they can join the community - interact with fellow peers & mentors to get their doubts answered and they can access preparation material like previous years’ papers, quizzes, etc. All of this free of cost.

Additionally, on the platform, there are certain paid services like a) Green card- For Purchase of Test series and b) Classroom – Live classes, which aspirants can avail to add further value to their preparation.


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Gradeup - User Acquisition and Growth

From 2019-2020, Gradeup grew 4x and closed the year at 30 Cr revenue. Some of the current metrics are:

  • 350M+ Learning Minutes per Month
  • 25M+ Student Registration
  • 2.5 Lakh+ Paid Users
  • 18M+ App downloads
  • 60,000+ Students Enrolled for Live Courses
  • 3.5M+ MAU

The tagline of Gradeup is "Prep Smart. Score Better.".

Gradeup Logo
Gradeup Logo

Gradeup - Startup Challenges

When Vibhu forayed into the Edtech and test preparation space with his business partners, in 2013, he worked with publishers and large institutes to mobilize their content and deliver it in an online, mobile-friendly manner for students preparing for competitive examinations. His low point at that time was that they made a business model that couldn’t scale. Also, they were quite dependent on external partners; for whom it was too early to change and evolve.

"However, the high point in my entrepreneurial journey was having the realization that our learning processes needed to have the right engagement levels. And this could be done by upgrading our pedagogy systems and product by making them effective and interactive.", said Vibhu Bhushan, co-founder of Gradeup.

He also realized that students prepare better when they prepare together. Hence, the co-founders decided that moving forward they will have a community-based model where verified peer to peer learning and validation mechanisms builds trust and reliability towards the content and the platform.


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Gradeup - Funding and Investors

Gradeup has raised a total funding of $10 million.

Date Stage Amount Investors
March 2014 Seed Round $3 million Times Internet
November 2019 Series A $7 million Times Internet

There is only one external investor - Times Internet.

Gradeup - Recognition and Achievements

35 under 35 Young Entrepreneur 2020 - Shobhit Bhatnagar.

Gradeup - Future Plans

The company is going to launch Goprep - a live online coaching app that will specifically cater to the academic needs of students from 8th to 12th; especially those preparing for JEE and NEET. Through the app, it will also offer one-year courses for students from class 8th to 10th for board exam preparation and Olympiads such as NTSE.

Apart from that, Gradeup is planning to raise funds in the coming months. The team will continue to emphasize Live classes as they can deliver high impact outcomes on a large scale. They plan to expand faculty up to 100 and subject matter experts up to 200. The company also plans to further manifest its presence in tier 2,3,4 towns across the country. Hence, the next round of funding will also be utilized to scaling the product and tech capabilities.

Gradeup's vision is to deliver quality exam preparation across the country through the means of technology. In the next 5 years, they plan to cater to most of the exams that happen across India.

Our superior education quality will be able to help 5 crores + Indians who prepare for different exams. We will be able to deliver the best results among our peers because of our strong focus on quality. - Vibhu Bhushan.

Considering the traction that its live online courses have received so far, Gradeup expects the number of enrollments to touch 60,000 students by the end of FY20, and cross 150,000 by the end of FY21.

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About Rishabh Rathi

Pre-Final Year Computer Science Undergrad and a freelancer. Connect with me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/rishabhrathi22/
  • Nagpur
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