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Indian edtech is a burning building, so why is Suresh Kalpathi running towards it?

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Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan

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Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan

22 reads

Even as investors are avoiding edtech, Suresh Kalpathi’s Veranda Learning is on an acquisition spree. Despite seeing a similar approach by big players in the space coming a cropper, the company has spent over Rs 1,000 crore to acquire a dozen-odd companies. Now, it must tame its education sprawl.

January 30, 2024

12 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • Veranda Learning is Suresh Kalpathi’s second act as an entrepreneur in the education/edtech space
  • The company’s entire growth strategy almost completely relies on acquisitions—it has spent over Rs 1,000 cr to buy over a dozen companies so far
  • Its acquisitions have increased its revenue from Rs 2.5 crore in FY21 to nearly Rs 200 crore in FY23; in the first half of FY24, its revenue has crossed Rs 170 crore
  • With two successive quarters of being EBITDA-positive, Kalpathi believes he’s on track to stitch together a full stack of educational services—right from preschool to upskilling

In the early 90s, when Indian IT services was just starting to make a name for itself on the global stage, Suresh Kalpathi made his first foray into education. SSI Ltd, the company he founded along with his two brothers, offered short-term IT courses which served as a springboard for those looking to enter the booming IT space.

It didn’t take long for SSI to reach stratospheric heights. It went public soon after it was incorporated in 1991 and even entered a joint venture with New York-based stock exchange NASDAQ to provide securities solutions to global customers. It also acquired US-based Albion Orion for nearly $64 million, in what was then the largest cross-border acquisition by an Indian IT company, and even bought a controlling stake in one of its publicly listed rivals, Aptech.

In 2008, when the brother-promoters exited SSI, media reports suggested the company was valued at around Rs 900-1,000 crore.

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