Karan Bajaj Says No More Startups After $300-Million WhiteHat Jr Sale
A kid learns how to build a video game using code on an Apple Inc. iPad Mini. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

Karan Bajaj Says No More Startups After $300-Million WhiteHat Jr Sale

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Karan Bajaj sold his coding coaching startup WhiteHat Jr to Byju’s for $300 million. But he will neither go back to starting another venture nor will he invest like other entrepreneurs.

"I feel there is an end point of a journey. With this chapter, I'm kind of putting a lot of myself into it, and I feel I reached a very logical end of the journey and I won't do a startup again," New York-based Bajaj said in an interaction on professional networking site LinkedIn.

Startup investing requires very active engagement and he will not be a good investor because he likes to build and tinker with things. "I'm actually not the best investor for a startup. So I think I will most likely not invest."

Bajaj calls himself a "minimalist" who does not think a lot about money, and all his investments are for the long term and he doesn’t fret about those.

Earlier this month, Bajaj's edtech venture that teaches kids how to code was acquired by Byju's in an all-cash deal for $300 million within 20 months of its incorporation. It’s among the largest deals for an Indian startup.

'Wanderer'

Bajaj said he gets into things which interest him at that particular point in life. He wrote two novels and vowed to never write fiction again, and was also the chief executive of media company Discovery.

"I am not a person who repeats what I've done. So I'd probably do something in a completely different field, like I like to build stuff, create stuff," he said. For some people, life journeys are about building expertise and verticalisation in a single field, he said, but "I was always a bit of a wanderer”.

Bajaj left Procter & Gamble when he was in his late-20s to backpack in South America for six months. The decision was a "little intimidating" because people his age were talking about their first jobs or marriage plans on the internet.

After the first leap, it becomes "progressively easier", he said, admitting that it was very difficult to find a job after he returned from his travels because Lehman Brothers had collapsed, triggering a global financial crisis.

"I kind of lived the worst-case scenario of taking a leap. I came back to pretty much jobless, not having too much money and stuff, or no money at all," Bajaj said, adding things worked out eventually and he also got a job with Boston Consulting Group later.

Building A Startup

Building a startup has two phases, he said, citing his WhiteHat experience. The first is marked with patience for building a great product where one has to be very frugal, Bajaj said, pointing out that the size of his team was only seven or eight people in the first seven months.

The next phase is impatience for scaling up, Bajaj said, adding that he was doubling the business every month during the pandemic.

WhiteHat Jr had 400 employees before the pandemic, which went to 3,000 in the last four months, and the number of enrolled teachers reached over 6,000 from 1,000.

Revenues also scaled up in a similar manner to a yearly run rate of $150 million against $10 million during the start of the pandemic, he said.

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