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The Physics Wallah Story

Created on 06 Jul 2022

Wraps up in 5 Min

Read by 26.6k people

Updated on 11 Sep 2022

How many of you wish that there was a "Maths Wallah", "Economics Wallah", "Chemistry Wallah" and "All Wallah"; simply because you sucked (still do) in these subjects? 

The start-up wave in India is giving birth to many Unicorns in the country, out of which many are from the ed-tech space. One such startup which recently became a unicorn is Physics Wallah.

Physics Wallah or PW raised $100 Million/₹763.31 crores in its maiden funding round led by WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures. And it is not just another ed-tech unicorn-like Unacademy, Vedantu, or Byju’s. There is something unique & special about this start-up.

Its YouTube channel was started by a single person in 2014 by Alakh Pandey. Later on, life had different plans for him, which led him to go from a bootstrapped startup to a unicorn with about 1900 employees.

Let’s discuss the story of the guy behind Physics Wallah, and how Physics Wallah went on to become a unicorn from the start.

The Beginning: Who is Alakh Pandey?

Born and brought up in Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), Alakh was good at studies since childhood and wanted to go to IIT, but his poor financial condition didn’t allow him to do so. To support his family, Alakh started teaching when he was in 8th standard, and he enjoyed it. 

His family had to sell their home to send him to an engineering college. But Alakh had a keen interest in acting and wanted to become an actor in college; he also used to take part in drama in his college.

However, acting is still his first love, he even inculcates it in his teaching style, which makes learning even more interesting for the students, but he had to teach in college too. 

Then in his 3rd year, his coaching was going well, but he realized that what he was learning in college was not getting him anywhere, college labs were unserviceable, and the syllabus was outdated, so he decided to drop out of the college.

Then he started teaching full-time, and in 2014 he had another epiphany: if he wanted to teach a huge number of students and create an impact, he couldn’t do it just by teaching offline. That’s when he started teaching on YouTube. 

Till 2016 he couldn’t reach anywhere on YouTube, but in 2017, he thought of doing something different! He started teaching the students of class 10th who were from the ICSE Board.

He said it was a very small group, and no one was teaching them, so I decided to help them. Doing this helped him gain 10k subscribers in just one year, and many students started supporting him as well.

The Risk: A Leap of Faith

Until now, he was teaching offline and online, but then one of his friends told him he could also monetize his YouTube channel. So that’s when he monetized the channel, and after that, he received ₹8000 from YouTube.

At this point, he had his savings which he earned through teaching offline, and YouTube also started paying him. So, he took the leap of faith and left offline coaching.

In 2019, when he hit 1 million subscribers, he realized he needed a bigger team because his students also demanded more from him. So, in 2020, Co-Founder Prateek Maheshwari came on board.

They launched their PW app, which crashed on its first day as so many students downloaded and used it at the same time, and the app couldn’t handle that much crowd. Their app had 300k downloads in the 1st week itself. 

They also launched a few paid courses at disruptive rates because their students wanted them to do so; they wanted structure, practice papers, doubt-solving sessions, etc.

So PW did it, and it gave them a lot of advantages. A course that costs around ₹15-30k on other ed-tech platforms costs only ₹3000-3500 on PW’s platform.

Alakh’s risk-taking capability gave PW extraordinary results, their revenue was ₹24.6 Cr with a profit of ₹7 Cr in the financial year 2020-21, and in the financial year 2021-22, their revenue skyrocketed to ₹350 Cr. And now in the FY 2022-23, their revenue is on track to cross ₹650 Cr by the end of the year.

The Uniqueness of Physics Wallah & Future Plans

Unlike other ed-tech unicorns, PW has been profitable since the beginning and is a bootstrapped startup. They have never laid off any employees; they even have a reserve to pay their employees if any emergency arises.

Currently, they have around 1900 employees, out of which 500 are teachers, and they are hiring around 150-200 more employees as well. 

Alakh feels that instead of burning most of the money on marketing, a startup should focus more on building their product first, which most startups nowadays fail to do. He says,

“Our aim is to bring about a revolution in education by reaching out to millions of students in a sustainable and affordable way. I don’t know how ed-tech startups with thousands of crores of losses are able to sleep.”

PW has always listened to his students, they have done whatever their students demanded, so now they are planning to get into personal one-on-one coaching at a disruptive price.

They are also planning to venture into post-graduate test prep courses like the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), and National Exit Test (NEXT) in the next three months.

They are going to launch more courses and integrate regional languages like Bengali, Kannada, Odia, Gujarati, etc. to make studies easier for the regional students. They have some offline coaching branches called PW Pathshala, which they will expand even more.  They also recently started their new offline centre in Kota, PW Vidyapeeth.

PW App’s user base is more than 5.2 million on the app store with a 4.7 rating and 7 million+ subscribers on its main youtube channel.

The Bottom Line

We can learn from Alakh Pandey that no matter what happens in life, what we make out of it is always in our hands. Other ed-tech startups keep their prices high and target the 10-15% of the audience, but on the other hand, PW keeps prices low and gets the opportunity to target the remaining 85-90%, and that is a huge advantage.

By building a personal brand, PW doesn't have to burn money on marketing; unlike other startups, word-of-mouth marketing is a big advantage for them. Students love Alakh Pandey and PW.

Alakh’s story is one in a million; it makes us happy to see someone grow from the ground level with no privileges, bootstrapping their way to a billion-dollar venture. May the story of Physics Wallah and Alakh Pandey inspire you to achieve your dreams as well.

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Akshatraj Gupta

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Akshat is a generalist who loves to learn, travel, meditate, and build things.

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