Ed-tech firm FrontRow lays off 75% of employees a day after Byju’s moves

Education technology start-up FrontRow has laid off 130 employees, announcing it a day after industry giant Byju’s said it would lay off about 2,500, or 5 percent, of its workforce as part of an “optimization” plan.

FrontRow, which focuses on nonfiction education, is laying off about 75 percent of its workforce in engineering, product and sales and marketing. The move is part of the Bengaluru-based firm’s plan to rethink cost structures.

FrontRow fired about 145 full-time and contract workers in May this year. After the second round of layoffs, its workforce has come down to about 45.

We are extremely proud of the team that has come together to build the future of non-teaching education, working tirelessly and creating some of the most exciting learning products that exist,” said Ishaan Preet Singh, Co-Founder, FrontRow said, “Unfortunately, as we realized that a sales and marketing-based approach to this market did not work with our current distribution model, we had to lay off a large part of our team.”

FrontRow, which was founded in 2020, provides online courses in cricket, singing, photography and filmmaking by experts. These include cricketers Suresh Raina, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bollywood singer Neha Kakkar, and comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath.

At the time of the funding, the startup said it has scaled to over 50K paid learners across 2,000 cities across the world, with users spending over a million hours learning on FrontRow.

Last year, FrontRow raised $14 million in a Series A round led by Eight Roads Ventures and GSV, with participation from existing investors Lightspeed and Elevation Capital. The round also saw participation from angels such as Vishal Dhadlani, Raftaar, Kunal Shah, Gaurav Munjal, and Farid Ahsan.

FrontRow said its teaching materials were distributed and the experts aim to hone the skills of India’s youth. “We helped millions of learners over the past 18 months, growing the same way we did in the past year.

Unfortunately, over the past few months, it has also become clear that despite our best efforts, the fundamentals of the business still remain the same and were not working despite putting our efforts ,” Singh said.

“However, our belief in the market and the need is still extremely strong. There are millions who want to get better at their passions and they have been massively underserved in India and beyond. We’ll continue to solve for them albeit in a revamped avatar.

 We remain bullish on the space and what we’re building and have sufficient capital and a great team to continue to solve this problem.”

Valuations of Indian edtech companies are under pressure, leading to layoffs. According to sources, Unicorn Vedantu has laid off 724 employees this year.

While edtech startups enjoyed rapid growth and funding momentum since the start of the pandemic, the sector seems to have lost its mojo.

In the last few months, the sector has witnessed layoffs across companies such as BYJU’S-owned WhiteHat Jr, Unacademy, and Vedantu.

 Byju’s said his layoffs are part of an “optimization” plan. In June, it also laid off about 500 employees at its group companies, WhiteHat Junior and Toppr.

Earlier this year, SoftBank-backed edtech unicorn Unacademy laid off more than 1,000 employees.

All such layoffs are seen as a focus on profitability, consolidation and cost-cutting drive in the edtech space.

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