Three years after shuttering their used-car marketplace GoZoomo, founders Arnav Kumar and Aniket Behera are giving entrepreneurship another spin. This time, they are hoping to ride the ed-tech wave with e-learning startup Photon Academy.
Kumar and Behera are currently in talks with multi-stage investment firm SAIF Partners, among other investors, for their first institutional funding round, two people privy to the development told TechCircle on the condition of anonymity.
“The company has started operations in Bengaluru and is currently working with a team of ten people,” said one of the people cited above.
“They are in discussions with investors, including SAIF Partners, to raise their first institutional round,” said the second person.
Email queries sent to Photon Academy and messages to Kumar and Behera via social networking platform LinkedIn did not elicit responses till the time of publishing this report. Incidentally, Kumar’s LinkedIn profile lists him as a founder of Photon Academy.
Photon Academy, owned by Goodmonk Technologies Pvt. Ltd, positions itself as an e-learning platform that helps undergraduate students secure jobs in technology startups or companies through its eight-week career accelerator programme.
It selects final-year undergraduates and provides video classes and coding sessions, and also assists in providing coaching and arranging interviews with its hiring partners which include prominent Indian technology companies such as Hotstar, Byju’s, Meesho, Cleartax and Hevo.
It also has a team of instructors from the technology startup fraternity who conduct knowledge sessions for undergraduates. Some of the instructors on board are Sidu Ponnappa, managing director of Go-Jek; Rahul Jaimini, co-founder of Swiggy; Prakash R, chief technology officer at Byju’s; Siddharth P, director of engineering at Myntra and J Anandha Krishnan, co-founder of Mavenhive, according to information available on the company’s website.
The startup aims to train 100,000 graduates for high-growth careers in five years.
Kumar and Behera’s earlier startup GoZoomo, which was backed by SAIF Partners, shut down operations because the business model failed to maintain sustainable unit economics. The company’s third co-founder was Himangshu Hazarika.
Gurugram-based GoZoomo started operations in 2014 as a mobile-based peer-to-peer marketplace that helped users buy verified cars from individual sellers. It operated in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Chennai, raising close to $7 million primarily from SAIF Partners.
However, two years after starting up, the company found itself unable to compete against well-funded peers such as CarTrade, CarDekho, Spinny and Droom. In early-2016, it started laying off employees.
Recent deals in ed-tech
# March 2019: The valuation of Byju’s crossed $5 billion as it raised $31.3 million (Rs 215 crore) from General Atlantic and Tencent Holdings Ltd.
# March 2019: Quiz-based learning startup iChamp raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A funding round led by Raju Shukla, chief executive officer at Singapore-based Ariana Investment Management.
# December 2018: Mumbai-based Toppr Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs an eponymous ed-tech startup, secured $35 million in a Series C funding round from new and existing investors.
# December 2018: PlanetSpark, a Gurugram-based gamified learning solutions startup, raised Rs 1.6 crore from FIITJEE Ltd, the test preparation company backed by Matrix Partners India.