Karan Bajaj, the yogi who sold his start-up for $300mn
Successful entrepreneurs are hailed for how they hold onto their idea and make it big in the market. But, today, we have a different success story to tell, thanks to Karan Bajaj, the man who went from being a yogi and novelist to the founder of the company that made the fastest $300mn (Rs. 2,100 crore) exit-story in the Indian start-up ecosystem. Here's all about him.
On August 5, Bajaj (41) sold his ed-tech start-up, WhiteHat Jr., to BYJU's for a whopping $300 million. The all-cash deal came just 20 months after he founded the company to offer young kids an online platform to learn how to code, create apps. It had only raised $11 million in funding from Omidyar Network, Owl Ventures, and Nexus Venture Partner prior to this.
During these 20 months, Bajaj was able to make WhiteHat cash-flow positive with over 400,000 learners, 5,000 teachers, and an annual run rate of $150 million. He also expanded operations to the US and raked in 20,000 paid subscribers, growing the business 100% month-on-month in the country. Notably, plans to expand to the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are also in the works.
Post this deal, Bajaj will continue to lead WhiteHat Jr. and work with BYJU's, which will make significant investments, to push the business forward (as a separate entity) globally. "Karan has proven his mettle as an exceptional founder...Under his leadership the company has achieved phenomenal growth in India and the US in a short span of time," said Byju Raveendran.
Before founding WhiteHat Jr. and finalizing what is said to be the biggest deal in India's ed-tech ecosystem, Bajaj, an alumnus of BITS and IIM, wore many hats. Specifically, he led as the CEO of Discovery Networks, South Asia, for nearly three years, Marketing Director at Kraft Foods, New York, for over four years, and Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble for six years.
Between these professional stints, Bajaj also became a yoga instructor and author. He spent nearly a year in South India's Sivananda Ashram and learned meditation in the Himalayas, and authored three fiction novels - Keep Off the Grass (2008), Johnny Gone Down (2010), and The Seeker (2015). Together, more than 200,000 copies of the three have been sold in India.