Last fiscal year turned out to be eventful for the Mumbai-based edtech firm upGrad as it managed to enter the $1 billion valuation club. The unicorn status and funding also helped the company to grow its scale by 2X. However, this growth has come at a high cost and upGrad’s losses soared 3X and crossed the Rs 600 crore mark in FY22.
Ronnie Screwvala’s upGrad, which provides higher education, managed to grow its scale two-fold to Rs 679 crore in FY22, as per the company’s annual financial statements with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
Online programs offered to students and commissions from the universities formed 99.6% of the company’s total collections which surged 107% to Rs 676 crore in FY22 from Rs 327 crore in the previous fiscal year (FY21). The company also made Rs 13 crore in non-operating income, mostly from interest on fixed deposits and gain of financial assets.
On the cost side, advertisement and promotion emerged as the largest cost center for the company and accounted for 32.6% of the overall cost. This expenditure surged 2X to Rs 424 crore in FY22.
Employee benefit expenses alone formed 30% of the total expenses and jumped 2.4X to Rs 383 crore in FY22. University fees and cost for content delivery surged 2.6X and 3.3X respectively to Rs 126 crore and Rs 124 crore in FY22 whereas IT cost stood at Rs 49 crore.
The company spent Rs 43 crore on legal and professional fees pushing total cost by 153% to Rs 1300 crore in FY22.
Outnumbering growth numbers, the company’s losses spiked 3X to Rs 627 crore in FY22 from Rs 211 crore in the preceding fiscal year (FY21).
The high burn impacted cash outflows which expanded 4.2X to Rs 590 crore whereas ROCE and EBITDA margins worsened to -308% and -85% in FY22. On a unit level, the company spent Rs 1.91 to earn a single rupee in FY22.
The numbers tell their story for upGrad. A huge market, where brand building is the biggest challenge thanks to heavy competition as well as premium/niche segments. Be it career advancement or studying abroad, upGrad is in the thick of a slugfest where many established players are fighting it out with ‘upstarts’ like upGrad. While we don’t have any data on hand to share on how far the upGrad brand has moved in terms of awareness and perception, it is clear that the heavy spending on branding and promotions is simply not sustainable beyond a point. Otherwise, 2X growth in revenue with 3X growth in losses will write its own story.