Sunstone, a higher education startup that partners with academic institutions to help their students train their employability, has raised $35 million in a new round of funding as it looks set to expand to more Indian cities.
Sunstone’s founders said on Friday that WestBridge Capital led the startup’s Series C funding round. Alteria Capital also participated in the financing, bringing the current raise to approximately $68 million.
There are thousands of management colleges and institutions in India, but apart from those at the top of the charts, most of them cannot attract enough students. Their curricula are also typically outdated and they struggle to get their students a job.
Founded in 2019, sunstone addresses these challenges by offering students a wide variety of additional courses and helping them secure jobs, co-founder Piyush Nangru told gotechbusiness.com in an interview.
“The universities of applied sciences have an occupancy rate of 40%. It equates to perishable supplies for them, making them unable to accumulate resources and thus the quality of education suffers,” he said. “We partner with these institutions to provide upskilling and soft-skill courses and campus life programs for students to improve their quality of education.”
As part of the partnerships, institutes will continue to provide hundreds of hours of “fundamental” classes to students. “Take MBA, for example. It is a 900-hour program, covering key topics such as accounting, marketing, and finance. The curriculum is outdated, so we plug in our own 600-hour modules — half of which focus on soft skills and rest on industry-ready skills — on top of that,” he explained.
Part of the value proposition of the New Delhi-based startup, which currently offers its services to undergraduate and postgraduate students at more than 40 institutions in nearly three dozen Indian cities, is to bring equal quality education and employment across all. institutions with whom it collaborates.
“The Indian higher education system is on the cusp of a long-awaited transformation,” said Ashish Munjal, co-founder and CEO of Sunstone. “Sunstone is well positioned to enable this change and impact the lives of millions of students. Over the years we have made significant progress in this direction, but we still have a long way to go as the market opportunities and the problem we are trying to solve are very big.”
Sunstone, which it claims has grown 10x in the past two years, is currently focusing on management colleges. It’s also starting to broaden into engineering and other tech verticals, and that expansion is part of how it plans to deploy the new funds, the founders said.
“Over the past year we have seen Sunstone grow and improve the quality of education for every student. Given the ever-increasing demand and the potential to be a major disruptor, we are delighted to double our investment in support of its mission to transform India’s higher education sector,” said Sandeep Singhal, Managing Partner, WestBridge Capital, in a statement.