Coursera, which enables users to take online university courses, recently raised a $49m first tranche of a $60m series C round and is setting its sights on India.
Coursera, a US-based platform that offers users hundreds of online courses created by universities, is looking to expand into India and recently attracted internet company Times Internet as a strategic investor.
Times Internet, a subsidiary of media company Times Group, participated in a $49m first tranche of a $60m series C round last month, led by venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, and featuring Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as International Finance Corporation, the investment vehicle of the World Bank.
On top of its financial commitment, Times Internet agreed to assist Coursera with marketing and strategic support as the platform enters India. Coursera’s first member in the country is Indian School of Business, which currently offers one course on the platform about the science of happiness.
Founded in 2012, Coursera’s online courses span across nine subject areas: arts and humanities, business, computer science, data science, life sciences, maths and logic, personal development, physical science and engineering and social sciences.
The vast majority of courses on Coursera are free, though the company has begun offering paid modules, dubbed Specialisations, which awards students a certificate at the end.
The cost of these specialisations are, however, still low when compared to regular tuition fees: UC San Diego, for example, provides a class on interaction design for $312 – enrolling at the university as an undergraduate student meanwhile would cost $29,300.
Coursera is one of the pioneers of the massive open online course (MOOC) movement which was originally dubbed the future of education when they first started arriving three years ago. The company’s 111 university partners feature institutions from across the world, including University of London, École Normale Supérieure, Saint Petersburg State University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Yale University.
Coursera has also inked partnerships with nine other organisations, including the US Museum of Modern Art, and non-profit educational institutions National Geographic Society and Commonwealth Education Trust.
The company is the brainchild of Stanford researchers Daphne Koller, professor of computer science, and Andrew Ng, associate professor of computer science and director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. Koller has stepped up as president of Coursera, while Ng is serving as chairman of the board.
During his tenure at Stanford, Ng was the instructor for one of the university’s first massive online course in 2011. The module, focused on machine learning, saw more than 100,000 students enrol.
The platform competes against peers such as Udacity, itself also a result of free online classes at Stanford in 2011; MIT and Harvard University’s edX platform; and Khan Academy, an India-based company offering short lectures through video streaming service YouTube.
Nevertheless, Coursera claims it has grown to some 15 million users, who are able to choose from 1,100 courses. India is already responsible for one million users, and with an estimated 833 million people between the ages of 15 and 65 in the country, the market represents a significant opportunity for expansion.
Coursera also hopes to expand into China and Latin America, and has lined up GSV Asset Management and Learn Capital for the final close of its series C round. To date, the company has secured approximately $134m in funding.
Rick Levin, chief executive of Coursera, said: “We want Coursera to be the place people go to learn, for their careers and throughout their lives. To accomplish this, we are determined to develop the best and most accessible learning experience anywhere.
“The continuing support from NEA and KPCB, as well as new strategic guidance from Times Internet abroad, will allow us to accelerate the improvement of our platform and product in order to serve millions more.”