India’s higher education startup Sunstone raises $35 million – TechCrunch

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 Their curricula are also typically outdated and they struggle to get their students a job.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 complementary courses and helping them secure jobs, co-founder Piyush Nangru told TechCrunch 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 The curriculum is outdated, so we plug in our own 600-hour modules — half of which focus on soft skills and rest on industry-ready skills — on top of that,” he explained.

The startup headquartered in New Delhi currently provides its services to undergraduate and postgraduate students at more than 40 institutions in nearly three dozen Indian cities.

“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.”

The startup currently focuses on management colleges, but is beginning to expand into engineering and other tech verticals, the founders said.

This is a story in development. More to follow…

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