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Deepika Padukone, Raftaar-Backed Startup FrontRow Shuts Down

Deepika Padukone, Raftaar-Backed Startup FrontRow Shuts Down

Written by Sanjay Kumar

News highlights

  • Extracurricular startup FrontRow shuts down operations amidst funding winter and layoffs.
  • FrontRow explores potential acquisitions while considering returning capital, says the founder.
  • Indian edtech startup FrontRow, backed by celebrities, joins the list of casualties in the funding downturn.

Since the onset of the funding winter last year, FrontRow, backed by Lightspeed, has joined Crejo.Fun and SuperLearn as the third extracurricular activity startup to cease operations. In mid-June, FrontRow made the decision to shut down its operations after previously laying off 90% of its workforce. Tech Crunch was the first to report on this development.

Ishaan Preet Singh, the founder of FrontRow, stated that the company is currently exploring potential acquisition deals for its intellectual properties and staff.

“We are still exploring potential acquisitions of the IP/team etc but also deciding whether it just makes more sense to return the capital and will decide that with the board in the next couple of months,” he added.

FrontRow was founded in 2020 by Shubhadit Sharma, Mikhil Raj, and Ishaan Preet Singh in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The startup catered to the extracurricular activity market by offering courses taught by Indian celebrities in fields such as gaming, music creation, singing, rap, comedy, and cricket. It successfully raised approximately $17 million through two funding rounds, with the latest round occurring in September 2021. The funding was led by Eight Roads Ventures, GSV, Lightspeed, and Elevation Capital, among others. Notable backers of FrontRow include Deepika Padukone, Kunal Shah, Gaurav Munjal, Vishal Dadlani, Raaftar, and Farid Ahsan.

FrontRow sought to emulate the approach of the US-based company MasterClass, which collaborated with celebrities to provide various courses. The startup enlisted renowned figures such as Amit Trivedi, Neha Kakkar, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Suresh Raina, and Divine as instructors for its students. The use of celebrities in teaching has been a popular model for Indian startups, with Celebrity School, Kyt, Mento, Unacademy, and BYJU’S among those adopting a similar approach. Unacademy launched Unacademy Icons, while BYJU’S introduced BYJU’S Xcel. However, it remains unclear how successful this model has been for larger companies.

The timing of FrontRow’s closure coincides with a challenging period for the edtech sector, which has been heavily impacted by the funding winter. According to reports, edtech startups have let go of over 9,000 employees since last year.

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