Kalpha raises six-figure funding to allow P2P exchange of knowledge, skills, experiences on its platform
Kalpha, a Singaporean edutech startup, announced today it has closed a six-figure seed extension round, led by existing seed-stage investor Nest Tech, with participation from several undisclosed angel investors.December 16, 2020
Kalpha raises six-figure funding to allow P2P exchange of knowledge, skills, experiences on its platform
Kalpha, a Singaporean edutech startup, announced today it has closed a six-figure seed extension round, led by existing seed-stage investor Nest Tech, with participation from several undisclosed angel investors.
(From left): Kalpha co-founder Jaden Teo, Nest Tech VN founder and managing partner Soe Moe Kyaw Oo, and Kalpha Vietnam chief marketing officer and co-founder Tri Nguyen
With the new funding, the startup plans to extend its product offerings by introducing new features to its existing platform.
The fresh funds will be used to extend Kalpha’s offerings
Founded in 2018, Kalpha is a P2P platform where individuals can connect and meet up virtually or physically to learn and share their skills and knowledge on a one-on-one basis.
Users on the platform can either sign up as a sharer or a learner and use the service accordingly. Sharers will have to curate a listing of their skills and knowledge and learners will then schedule the meet-up date and proceed to learn whatever skill they want to learn.
“Kalpha advocates learning beyond school. The vision of Kalpha is to promote lifelong learning where users are empowered to meet others to learn and share their experiences. Through those meetups, Kalpha hopes that users can then make better and more informed decisions before embarking onto certain life paths,” explained Co-founder Jack Soh.
“The opportunity to learn from an experienced individual in a personalised setting on real-life topics are limited, and Kalpha fulfils that gap in the market,” he added.
In terms of growth, the company has shown a positive trajectory having more than 70,000 downloads, over 2,000 listings and 2,500 completed sessions since its launch in January 2019. It also managed to successfully roll out its services outside of Singapore in Vietnam during July 2020.
“Southeast Asia will be Kalpha’s key target market as people in developing countries are always hungry to learn. Having said that, we’re experiencing a very healthy growth in user traction in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, since our rollout in July 2020,” noted C0-founder Tri Nguyen.
The firm plans to roll out its new gamification features as well as a question and answers (Q&A) forum to strengthen its existing P2P model.
Kalpha was incubated in The SandBox by Ngee Ann Polytechnic and was also awarded the SG Founder’s Grant by Enterprise Singapore.
Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and the United Overseas Bank (UOB) announced their plans to jointly launch a campus startup incubator and learning lab to drive student entrepreneurship and encourage ecosystem partnerships.December 16, 2020
Kalpha participates in the campus startup incubator AGILE
Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and the United Overseas Bank (UOB) announced their plans to jointly launch a campus startup incubator and learning lab to drive student entrepreneurship and encourage ecosystem partnerships.
Hangout@UOB has areas where students can sit and share ideas (ST Photo: Jason Quah)
AGILE, which stands for Accelerating Growth in Innovation, Learning, and Entrepreneurship, aims to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. It will give startups access to mentorship through The FinLab, an innovation accelerator by UOB, and opportunities to glean industry insights through The FinLab’s programs.
In addition, NP and UOB said they aim to use AGILE as a venue for programs such as financial literacy workshops, talks with experts in innovation, entrepreneurship and career guidance, as well as hackathons and competitions.
Called Agile, the 10,000 sq ft space on the NP campus in Clementi will have three main functions (ST Photo: Jason Quah)
Ten startups from sectors such as events management, financial advisory, and medical devices, have already come on board, according to a statement. They consist of the following:
- Kalpha is a peer-to-peer mobile platform in the education technology space where individuals can connect and meet to learn skills, experiences, and knowledge on a one-to-one basis.
- Generation Connect develops novel rehabilitative products based on research to provide engagement and social interaction with a focus on inter-generational bonding.
- Conceptsmiths is a multi-discipline design and branding agency dedicated to helping food and beverage businesses identify, distinguish, and communicate their brand through creative solutions and visuals.
- AllForU is a platform that aggregates undergraduates through a centralized portal to guide students, connecting them to opportunities with companies and vendors.
- Position Five is a creative agency that specializes in events and digital marketing. It has a team for any event requirement, which ranges from logistics, conceptualization, to digital marketing.
- Proa Technology designs and builds intelligent applications for companies to make sense of their data.
- Radx is a software development and technology services company supporting clients in their digital transformation, focusing on AR and VR solutions for interactive experiences.
- FatFreq creates high-quality in-ear monitors and innovative systems for musicians and sound engineers.
- SmoothWork is a “roboCFO” that automates financial advisory, conducts financial health checks, and obtains cheaper financing.
- JoyfulPerson is the mobile micro-learning solution for frontline workers, enabling rapid upskilling, and organizational excellence.
As part of the program, NP and UOB also announced the launch of Hangout@UOB, a community space aimed to facilitate collaboration and encourage student engagement. The space will be managed by student interns under the supervision and mentorship of UOB employees.
“In co-managing Hangout@UOB, students will also learn how to anticipate customer needs, with the guidance from our UOB colleagues. These will be their real-life experiences that go beyond any textbook knowledge,” said Jacquelyn Tan, UOB’s head of group personal financial services.
VietNam is a top pick for businesses going overseas VIETNAM is drawing record numbers of Singapore businesses as companies continue to look for expansion opportunities despite Covid-19. Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said it has supported more than double the number of internationalization projects for enterprises looking to expand into Vietnam since 2018. From January to October […]December 1, 2020
VietNam is a top pick for businesses going overseas
VIETNAM is drawing record numbers of Singapore businesses as companies continue to look for expansion opportunities despite Covid-19.
Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said it has supported more than double the number of internationalization projects for enterprises looking to expand into Vietnam since 2018. From January to October 2020 alone, ESG supported 56.9 per cent more projects year on year across sectors such as ICT and media, professional services, and education.
Kalpha co-founders (from left) Jaden Teo and Jack Soh
Since the launch of the Singapore Business Federation’s GlobalConnect@SBF last November, the centre, supported by ESG, received the highest volume of enquiries for regional overseas business ventures in Vietnam, says ESG assistant CEO Tan Soon Kim.
Traditionally, Singapore companies that are keen to invest in or expand in Vietnam come from sectors that include infrastructure and urban solutions note Mr Tan. In recent years, however, there has been growing interest in the areas of manufacturing, F&B and retail.
Functional juice company Doki Doki for instance, set up a factory in Vietnam in 2017, from where its R&D and production teams work with European companies to innovate and launch new products.
It decided to expand its sales channels to Vietnam this year and pushed forward the launch of their new product Lean Up calorie-burning juice. Within two weeks of the launch, the product was sold out in Vietnam and Singapore.
“Our domestic sales are almost reaching pre-Covid levels and we also see a higher volume of enquiries from F&B and manufacturing customers because their suppliers have either folded or they are not able to provide the same level of good quality and customer service,” says Doki Doki co-founder and CEO Alex Goh.
Another company that is actively scaling up its retail presence in Vietnam is Norbreeze Group, which distributes and markets jewellery and timepiece brands including Pandora, Olivia Burton, Bering, Coach, Boss, and Tommy Hilfiger.
The company is opening three new owned-and-operated stores in Vietnam in November and five partner stores in December/January. By end-2020, Norbreeze will manage a retail network of 19 stores in Vietnam, comprising 11 owned-and-operated stores, and eight stores operated by partners. And by end-2021, it expects to go to 35 stores.
For Norbreeze CEO Anders Peter Sauerberg, it boils down to cost and returns on investment. According to Mr Sauerberg, cost of operations in Vietnam can be 50-60 per cent lower compared to Singapore. It simply is more profitable to operate physical stores there. This is in tandem with Norbreeze’s new website cocomi.vn.
“We are quite aggressive in opening stores because we have found a model that works. This enables us to open fast not only in first-tier cities but also in second-tier locations,” he says.
Not that it is giving up on retail in Singapore. In fact, it is implementing new technology at its physical stores. Termed conversational commerce, this gives consumers at home direct visible access to a sales associate who is working in the store.
“In the pure online space, we have an expected conversion of 1-2 per cent. In physical stores, depending on the category of the store and what is being sold, between 10 and 30 per cent. Conversational commerce is expected to sit in the middle at 14 per cent,” says Mr Sauerberg.
But perhaps most intriguing is a decision by local startup Kalpha to launch its app in Vietnam this year.
Kalpha’s whole business model is premised on connecting people – “learners” and “sharers” to learn and share skills, knowledge and experiences. The catch? It strongly believes in the value of synchronous learning – physical in-person meetups.
“We went to Vietnam in November last year looking to launch our product in February, but Covid-19 pushed everything back and we officially launched in July 2020,” says Kalpha co-founder Jack Soh.
During the early days when news of Covid-19 was first emerging from China, “nobody thought too much about it”, remembers Mr Soh.
“But in Vietnam, everybody was already very cautious. Even back in November, every lift had hand sanitizer and people were already wearing masks. So when it really got out, Singapore was hit harder compared to Vietnam.”
Launching a business that is based around meetups inevitably had its road bumps. People were understandably cautious and the feedback given was that people were open to meeting, but preferred to meet via video conference.
“So we started building our own online meeting function. But once we finished building that, things went back to normal and people were meeting up in-person again,” he says with a rueful laugh.
Kalpha has scaled quickly. From its soft launch when it was seeing between 1,000 and 2,000 downloads per month, it is now looking at 6,000-8,000 user downloads per month.
“In terms of sessions month-to-month, we’re also growing quite quickly. In October we did 580 sessions and in terms of interactions we’re looking at over 10,000 per month.”
Kalpha has even set up its own cafe in district 7, just outside Ho Chi Minh City’s city centre, to provide a space for meetups to happen.
“Singaporeans are still in that mode of being not too inclined to meet up. In Singapore, typically we used to hit about 10 completed sessions per day, but now we’re looking at one to two sessions. In Vietnam, we’re at like 15 to 20 completed sessions a day,” says Mr Soh.
One business for which the model has shifted quite permanently is NovaLand Group’s Nova F&B, the franchisee for Jumbo Seafood in Vietnam.
A Jumbo Singapore spokesperson noted that prior to the pandemic, most customers, whether in Singapore or at overseas outlets, preferred to dine in at the restaurants in big groups. Delivery was never a big part of the overall revenue for the brand.
Delivery has since become the new norm and the team in Vietnam had to quickly go about onboarding the company’s brands on delivery platforms and implementing promotions to encourage consumer spending.
The team also had to review Jumbo’s food offering to ensure the dining experience was not affected by the delivery journey. The packaging was a challenge as spillage is a common problem during delivery.
Overall, Vietnam was able to so quickly get a handle on Covid-19 means the businesses The Business Times talked to remain upbeat about their plans.
Nova F&B said Jumbo Seafood is now one of the leading restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and the company is “actively seeking” new locations to expand their presence.
Kalpha’s Mr Soh is looking forward to building out the firm’s B2C vertical in 2021. The plan is to offer professional courses, workshops and seminars. There are also plans to gamify the app and allow users to convert points gained to coffee or class credits. Kalpha is also looking to expand to other regions, including Danang and Hanoi.
“Right now, our short term objective is still user acquisition. Our main revenue stream will come when we introduce course and seminar providers. Everybody there wants to learn so professional courses and seminars make sense,” Mr Soh says.
“Team-wise, we’re looking to expand to other regions like Danang and to Hanoi to ramp up our traction. We are on track to hit 100,000 users by the end of the year and hopefully, by the end of next year, we hit 300,000 users. By end-2021, if we can expand to a third country, that will be fantastic.”
TechNode Global, a Pan-Asia tech platform, has announced the winners for the first edition of ORIGIN Innovation Awards. The winners were announced during the ORIGIN Conference, an on-demand conference track about the latest developments in the Asia tech and startup scene within TECHFEST Live x ROAD-TO-WCIT Malaysia 2020.November 24, 2020
Kalpha - One of the winners for the Origin Innovation Awards 2020
ORIGIN Innovation Awards is APAC’s esteemed accolade for tech innovation which aims to provide recognition to companies that have exemplified the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in the running of their businesses. The inaugural ORIGIN Innovation Awards started in 2020 as an initiative by TechNode Global with a goal to build a dynamic community in propelling them to soar to greater heights.
TechNode Global, a Pan-Asia tech platform, has announced the winners for the first edition of ORIGIN Innovation Awards. The winners were announced during the ORIGIN Conference, an on-demand conference track about the latest developments in the Asia tech and startup scene within TECHFEST Live x ROAD-TO-WCIT Malaysia 2020.
2020 winners include early-stage startups, venture capital firms, corporates, community builders, and influential individuals. Close to 400 contenders from 18 countries across the Asia Pacific region participated. Southeast Asia continued to be the most-represented region, with 67% of the applications, while East Asia emerged in the second spot with 23%, ahead of South Asia with 10%.
“Congratulations to the winners for making an impact on the Asian technology and innovation space. All of this year’s nominations were impressive and have demonstrated passion and dedication in providing innovative technology solutions,” said Nadia Fonny, vice president at Gobi Partners, and advisor of the ORIGIN Innovation Awards 2020 panel.
The all-star advisory team is made up of representatives from AppWorks, Cyberport, Gobi Partners, Golden Gate Ventures, InnoVen Capital, MDI Ventures, Rakuten Capital, Sistema Asia, True Digital Park, and ZWC Partners.
TechNode Global presented the ORIGIN Innovation Awards to outstanding startups, corporates, ecosystem enablers, and movers and shakers in Asia who are poised for growth. Nominations were evaluated based on criteria such as value proposition, strength of technology product, company growth potential, and the leadership capability.
Dr. Gang Lu, founder and CEO of TechNode Global, said, “We’re thrilled to offer recognition to the winners as they continue their journey on a technology revolution. TechNode Global remains committed to continue building a community of tech innovation in Asia. We look forward to meeting more outstanding solutions, engaging new partners, and connecting tech businesses across the region.”
Kalpha is one of the winners for Startup Awards – EduTech (in alphabetical order)
- ACKTEC Technologies – EdTech company focused on innovation in 360 VR, virtual reality, and augmented reality for immersive learning
- Careershe – career guidance startup focused on helping students between 15-25 years old in China
- Flying Cape – online booking and advisory platform for tuition and enrichment classes in Singapore
- Kalpha – peer to peer mobile platform where individuals can connect and meetup to learn and share any skills, knowledge and experiences on a 1-to-1 basis
- Ottodot – Singapore-based science learning platform for primary 3-6 students
The virtual event was successful. Congratulations Top 5 of Startup Wheel International Track on amazing performance today.November 6, 2020
Final Round - International Track of Startup Wheel 2020
The virtual event was successful. Congratulations Top 5 of Startup Wheel International Track on amazing performance today. Let’s look forward to the winner announcement on 13th November 2020 in the Ceremony Awards Event of Startup Wheel 2020.
Final Round – International Track of Startup Wheel 2020
Top 5 International Track – Startup Wheel 2020 is selected from nearly 200 international startups from 20 countries on 5 continents.
1. TradingView Inc
- Country: US
- Sector: FinTech
- Achievement: a total of more than 40 million USD raising fund in series B round; Best Analysis Platform at Benzinga Fintech Awards 2017 in New York’s; Top 200 Global Website in February 2020; one of the 300 largest websites in the world in April 2020 with more than 10 million traders and investors.
- Country: India
- Sector: Healthcare
- Achievement: TIME’s Magazine’s 100 Best Innovations; Not Impossible Award 2019 in LA, US; 3rd Most Innovative Company in India; 2019 St Andrews Prize for the Environment; 2020 XTC Award in Health Category….
3. Interbrid Inc
- Country: Korea
- Sector: AdTech
- Achievement: a total of more than 1,5 million USD raising fund; more than 74 locations in Korea and 10 international partners: America, Canada, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam…
4. Verily Vision
- Country: Thailand
- Sector: Logitech
- Achievement: Thailand Best SME/Startup Award 2019; 2nd Runner Up GSB Best Startup Award 2019; 2nd Runner Up ASEAN Hackathon 2019; 3rd Runner Up SAMART Young Technoprenuer Award 2019.
- Country: Korea
- Sector: MedTech
- Achievement: Top 10 Hottest Korean Beauty Startup to Watch; Industrial Grand Award From Money Today News; 5th Korea Industry Awards in ICT Divison.
Board of Judges
Started in 2013, Startup Wheel is designed as a 6-month accelerator program running from March to August annually. The competition is also the biggest and longest run competition for startups in Vietnam. Since 2018, we have opened the International Track for international startups who are eager to explore and expand their business to the Vietnam market.
- 7 years organized successfully
- 7.797 startups participated
- 20 countries on 5 continents have been reached out
Startup Wheel - One of the largest and most intensive startup competitions in Southeast Asia is going to its final stage.November 3, 2020
Mr. Soe Moe Kyaw Oo - One of the Judges in The Final Round of Startup Wheel
STARTUP WHEEL – One of the largest and most intensive startup competitions in Southeast Asia is going to its final stage.
Started in 2013, Startup Wheel is designed as a 6-month accelerated program running from March to August annually. The competition is also the biggest and longest-running competition for startups in Vietnam. Since 2018, Startup Wheel has opened the International Track for international startups who are eager to explore and expand their business to the Vietnam market.
The final round – Top 5 online pitch battle (Source: startupwheel.vn)
- The place where gathers Vietnam, and International Startup Ecosystems: connecting more than 500 investors, venture capital funds, businessmen of leading corporations, leaders of startup supporting organizations in Vietnam and overseas with more than 100 outstanding Vietnamese and International Startups
- The place where boost more than 100 pitchings of TOP 60 outstanding Vietnam startups and TOP 50 excellent international startups from 19 countries on 5 continents to call out investment from Investors, the Venture Capital Fund
- The place where witness the fierce competition in the Final Round of Startup Wheel 2020: TOP 10 Vietnam startups and TOP 5 International startups with a total prize valued up to 10 billion VND
- The place where take the roundtable discussions between Investors, Businessmen about mindset “Back to Basics” to flexibly respond the difficult times of global startups: finding “silent moment” to contemplate the business model, to evaluate the efficiency of business activities; find the “low notes” to focus on the core values of the business, to optimize resources for learn operations; to consolidate internal strengths, to increase the resources, to be ready catching up the opportunities when the economy recovers
- The place where honor Vietnam, and International startups has demonstrated a strong resilience in the volatile economic situation between the Covid-19 pandemic
Selected out of 176 startups from 19 countries on 5 continents, after the 6-month process, the most 5 outstanding International startups will have an online pitch battle in front of the Board of judges for the prizes.
Let’s take a look at the Top 5 and see how potential they are!
The details of the final round:
- Date: 9:15 to 11:30 in Vietnam Timezone on Friday, 6.11.2020
- Format: YouTube Livestream
Platforms help learners reduce risk, not spend a lot of money and time experimenting with the learning environment.October 8, 2020
Edu2review: Education quality evaluation system
Vietnamese parents are spending 47% of their income on their children’s education, according to TTC Edu’s statistics, while according to the Institute of Educational Research, 75% of parents admit that they are sending their children tutoring. The general education sector is also forecast to grow impressively, reaching $ 89 billion by 2026.
These figures show that the demand for investment in education in Vietnam is huge. But not all training units are qualified and suitable to the needs of learners. Most parents have to spend time and money trying to bring their children to 1-2 tutoring centers and many parents encounter poor quality centers.
In order to provide accurate and transparent information about teaching centers, Mr. Ho Duc Hoan has decided to start a business with the first educational quality assessment platform in Vietnam – Edu2Review. Mr. Ho Duc Hoan, founder and CEO of Edu2Review, shared: “On the side of the centers, those with money and expertise can run ads. Because the advertising content lacks control, it more or less creates a presence in the tutoring market, while the good, reputable, small-scale teaching units have few advertising operations. Realizing the supply and demand in the market, I decided to create Edu2Review, a professional evaluation platform for the first educational centers in Vietnam ”.
Photo by: Edu2Review
Mr. Hoan shared: “In developed countries, the supply-demand connection model has a foundation to play the role of assessment and booking, thereby helping users to reduce risks and not spend a lot of money. Vietnam, time for self-testing. However, in Vietnam in 2015, there was no foundation for educational evaluation. That is an opportunity for Edu2Review “.
Those who want Edu2Review to be certified will be trained by experts, collect students’ assessments, attend classes to check the quality. The startup is also committed to representing the student’s interests at the center, taking responsibility if the student is dissatisfied and making sure to find another suitable course for that person.
Edu2Review also features video assessment, pictures of schools and centers, helping users to have more information to make better learning options. Users only need to register by email to write reviews including strengths, weaknesses and experiences at the training unit learned. Edu2Review system will evaluate and verify the content before publishing.
Another convenient point is that Edu2Review also has an online course booking service that helps users not have to come to the center to register. The courses and centers range from kindergarten to university, so Edu2Review can meet the majority of the needs of parents and students in Vietnam.
Photo by: Edu2Review
“The current average growth of Edu2Review is always 2-3 times per year and Edu2Review is also leading in terms of brand awareness among students, students and employees in Vietnam”, Mr. Hoan said. know.
Only after 2 years of establishment, Edu2Review has successfully raised capital with a total capital of 1 million USD. Edu2Review also won many awards in the startup community: First Prize of Startup Wheel 2016, Second Prize of Hatch Fair 2016, Top 5 startups competing at APEC 2017. Singapore’s valuation of $ 4.5 million. This startup also appeared on the program Shark Tank Vietnam, invested by Shark Nguyen Hoa Binh and Shark Nguyen Manh Dung.
After 5 years of development, Edu2Review has achieved certain successes. Currently, 70% of tutoring and training centers in two big cities Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are partners of this startup. According to Mr. Ho Duc Hoan, Edu2Review has more than 2,500 partners, 1.5 million visits from users and 7,500 students book each month.
Mr. Hoan also said that Edu2Review has reached breakeven point so far and is about to make a profit. Therefore, in mid-2021, Edu2Review will continue to raise capital to expand the system nationwide, aiming to serve 3 million students per month.
In August, Edu2Review also launched the online learning system StudyNow.vn. This system will help connect students with teachers in a one-to-one form, consistent with the current world learning trend, whether or not the COVID-19 translation occurs.
Despite Topica’s setbacks, Vietnam edtech is on the radar of some regional investors.October 8, 2020
After Topica, Vietnam seeks its next edtech breakthrough
Despite Topica’s setbacks, Vietnam edtech is on the radar of some regional investors.
Topica, Vietnam’s leading education tech startup, has been a hard act to follow, even for itself.
In a 2018 interview with Tech in Asia, the founder and then-CEO Tuan Pham was riding high. At the time, Topica was fresh off its announcement of a US$50 million series D funding from Singapore-based private equity firm Northstar Group.
Topica’s founder and former CEO Tuan Pham at an edtech conference / Photo credit: Topica
Two years later, Topica’s series D is still one of the largest funding rounds ever closed by a Vietnamese tech startup. Established in 2007, the company focuses on three core areas: Topica Native, an online English-speech tutoring service for adults; Edumall, a marketplace that features short courses; and Topica Uni, which partners with universities to offer online bachelor’s degree programs.
But in January this year, Tuan stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Nguyen Huy Duc, Topica’s chief financial officer. According to local media reports, Duc said that he would “streamline” operations and invest aggressively in AI-driven products for children and young students.
A report on DealStreetAsia suggested that Topica had laid off the majority of its staff due to pressure from investors and to better manage its operational costs.
Several sources also told Tech in Asia that Topica rushed its expansion, both in terms of products and geographic markets. In response to an email from Tech in Asia, Topica’s new CEO Duc said the company would discuss its current priorities at a later time.
Topica’s troubles show that it’s not easy for startups to crack the sector despite the obvious potential. Vietnam’s edtech market is expected to be worth about US$3 billion by 2023, according to estimates from Ken Research.
The addressable market is quite significant. Vietnam has about 16 million students in primary and secondary levels as well as another 1.7 million studying at universities. Frustration with the current education system prompts Vietnamese families to splurge billions of US dollars each year to send their children abroad.
Parents and students rush to classes in Hanoi / Photo credit: 123rf
“In the past few years, most edtech companies have pursued a similar business model as that of Topica, without any remarkable feature that can differentiate themselves from other big players,” says Vy Le, co-founder of Do Ventures, a Vietnam-focused fund that was launched in September. “There are some innovative edtech [companies] in the markets that receive seed investments, and their sizes are still small.”
With Covid-19 expected to accelerate the growth of edtech, can smaller Vietnamese startups in this sector ride the wave and potentially become the next Topica, Ruangguru, or even Byju’s?
Austin Carter co-founded Ho Chi Minh City-based startup Edu2Review in 2017 with two others. The startup wants to make it easier for parents and students to get credible information about universities, colleges, language schools, and other education providers in Vietnam and overseas.
The Edu2Review team / Photo credit: Edu2Review
While users can do their own research via Google and Facebook, Edu2Review let them compare course prices, check verified reviews from past learners, get discounts, and receive refunds after a one-week trial, says Carter. For some courses offered locally, students can even book directly on the platform.
Carter, who also serves as chief financial officer, describes the company’s business model as similar to Booking.com, which means Edu2Review charges a commission on each transaction.
But relying on offline centers meant that when Covid-19 struck Vietnam in February, Edu2Review was hit.
He claims that the startup has about 1.5 million monthly active users and around 10,000 education providers listed on its site. In August 2018, Edu2Review announced that it had raised an undisclosed amount from Nest Tech, a Singapore-based venture capital fund.
But relying on offline centers meant that when Covid-19 struck Vietnam in February, Edu2Review was hit. Registration for classes went down by about 25% to 30%, according to Carter, while offline education centers had to burn through their cash reserves and cut down on marketing.
To make up for the drop in course registration, the startup began working with universities for advertising and supporting their student recruitment amid the pandemic. Edu2Review also expanded its offerings for online courses.
For Tony Ngo, chairman and co-CEO of Everest Education, a startup with brick-and-mortar learning centers in Ho Chi Minh City, its decision to develop live interactive online classes paid off.
Everest Education co-CEOs Don Le (left) and Tony Ngo / Photo credit: Everest Education
In August 2019, Everest announced that it had bagged US$4 million in a series B round. The startup operates in the after-school segment, meaning it caters to students who take extra classes in Math and English and do test preparation at its offline facilities.
To reach students in the suburban districts and other provinces, Ngo says that Everest started developing online classes in December 2019. “We were able to move all of our offline classes to online one week into the national shutdown [in February] while other big incumbent offline centers looked relatively sleepy,” he tells Tech in Asia.
Everest doesn’t have an app. Instead, it focuses on the live component of online learning, allowing students to interact and practice with classmates and their teachers. Getting students online allowed the startup to avoid letting any staff go, Ngo observes. “It’s hard to send great teachers everywhere in the country, but you can do that through technology at a much lower cost.”
Nguyen Tri Hien, who runs Hanoi-based edtech consulting firm GetJSC, estimates that there are about 600 e-learning and edtech companies in the country. He points out that about half of them operate in the K-12 segment, offering products and services with little differentiation.
Maria Spies, co-founder and CEO of education market intelligence platform HolonIQ, says that about 20% of edtech firms in Vietnam covers language learning, followed by workforce upskilling, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and coding as well as international education and study.
Besides Topica, no other company has really dominated any market segment. And with Topica having to restructure and slow down, smaller edtech startups must overcome long-existing barriers before they can think about pulling ahead of the pack, according to experts interviewed by Tech in Asia.
Students in Ho Chi Minh City / Photo credit: 123rf
They note that Vietnam’s education system in general takes a passive approach. As such, it doesn’t really encourage independent or online learning. With the boom of ecommerce and financial tech, paying for online services has taken off in the country. Opening wallets for online courses, however, is still fairly new. Most Vietnamese parents remain traditional and prefer keeping children at schools and offline centers.
Giang Le, a mother of a 12-year-old, says she prefers Khan Academy, a US-based nonprofit edtech organization, because the English content is top-notch, interactive, and totally free. She also uses VietJack.com, a homegrown platform that digitalizes all official learning content as required by public schools.
It also doesn’t help that investments in Vietnam’s edtech sector have been fairly limited, with only US$3 million record for the first half of 2020.
As Covid-19 forced Vietnam to shut down schools nationwide from February to May, Giang says she started searching for online learning platforms. “What I don’t like about local edtech platforms is that there are too many ads. That isn’t the case for foreign platforms.”
It also doesn’t help that investments in Vietnam’s edtech sector have been fairly limited, with only US$3 million record for the first half of 2020, according to an estimate by Do Ventures. In contrast, US$64 million flowed into retail during the same period.
Tram Ho, co-founder and CEO of Kyna for Kids, an online learning school for children and students below 10th grade, explains that it’s challenging for local edtech startups to raise substantial funding. “You need a larger pool of startups with proven, go-to-market solutions,” she says.
“Edtech startups need initial funding to build products […] It’s not just about building a platform to match demand or a marketplace to sell courses. It’s really about building engaging content and technology for a seamless learning experience and optimized operations,” she adds.
Tram also previously ran Kyna.vn, a marketplace that provides skills-focused short courses for adults, directly competing with Topica’s Edumall. In December 2019, she sold Kyna.vn to Navigos Group, which owns popular job and recruitment portal Vietnamworks.com.
The absence of sizable funding rounds means that some edtech companies have to opt for a merger. A notable name in the K-12 segment is online education marketplace Hocmai (which means “keep learning” in Vietnamese).
Founded in 2007, Hocmai claims to serve 4 million students and has 1,200 courses for every grade level on its website – still a rather modest number for a 13-year-old startup. In August, it was acquired by Vietnamese media and entertainment group Galaxy.
Knocking on the door
Meanwhile, foreign players are giving Vietnam’s edtech scene a necessary jolt.
Leading Indonesian edtech startup Ruangguru, which raised a whopping US$150 million last year, quickly expanded to Vietnam as its first overseas destination.
Though its efforts in Vietnam are nascent, Ruangguru operates Kien Guru, which targets students from elementary to high school. According to advertisements on its website, Kien Guru has 6,500 video lectures and tutorials with more than 50,000 practice questions, which are available to users for as low as 3,400 dong a day (US$0.15).
US-based language-learning app Duolingo, which is valued at US$1.5 billion, also considers Vietnam as a high-priority market in Asia due to a strong interest to learn English.
In February, Snapask, an on-demand tutoring app based in Hong Kong, announced its US$35 million series B round. Founder and CEO Timothy Yu specifically identified Vietnam as its next expansion target in Southeast Asia, citing a growing demand for tutoring and private education services.
Photo credit: Snapask
To compete with well-funded foreign providers, especially in English and language learning, local startups need to capitalize on their understanding of what Vietnamese parents and students demand, says Kyna’s Tram.
For example, courses on Kyna for Kids tend to be more test-oriented rather than game-based. “We understand that Cambridge English Assessment is very popular and well-regarded in Vietnam. So we focus on helping students to do well on the test – that would open doors to good schools,” she adds. “It would be very difficult if we compete based only on animation or content with edtech startups from more advanced countries like China or South Korea.”
Ngo from Everest Education also thinks that foreign players can leverage “their tech ability and general know-how,” but the go-to market has to be hyperlocal.
“So many players have tried to be a regional one-stop shop. But you can’t be Sea or Grab because their business models are more easily adaptable across geographies, which is fundamentally different from edtech,” says Ngo. “For edtech, we have to provide different content for each market. Your curriculum and assessments are going to be different.”
The right model
But whether Vietnam’s edtech scene can produce more star players like Topica or Ruangguru could depend also on the rise of fintech companies, which can spur online payments for education services, or telecom providers, which can bring cheap internet even to the country’s far-flung areas.
In emerging markets such as Vietnam, business-to-consumer edtech models “are attractive but difficult to get off the ground where the ability to pay is low,” says Spies of HolonIQ. “On the other hand, business-to-business sales in education is traditionally very slow and fragmented.”
While the country’s edtech sector seems to be under the radar compared to fintech and ecommerce, its potential could attract more investor interest in the future.
Shuyin Tang, a partner at Patamar Capital, agrees that there’s tremendous opportunity in the sector. “While Topica is the leader in delivering upskilling for working professionals, the K-12 segment is much more fragmented. The challenge here is how to deliver an engaging, effective learning experience at an affordable, mass-market price point.”
The Tech in Asia Conference 2020 report predicts that many parents in Southeast Asia will be more willing to invest in their children’s schooling. To benefit from this, edtech startups can bridge the gap between online and offline learning or improve learning management and communication.
Holon IQ estimates that from 2015 to 2020, Southeast Asia drew about US$480 million in edtech VC investment.
A survey conducted by Do Ventures of 50 active funds among six major markets in the region identified education as among the top three sectors that investors will focus on in Vietnam in the coming year.
“Our fund has been actively looking for startups in the edtech sector. We prefer to invest in startups that can provide an innovative online class model with good content and quality instructors,” says Vy of Do Ventures.
The announcement of the office expansion of Nest Tech VN Our company would like to announce the expansion of its corporate office from July 1, 2020. In order to meet the needs of expanding the scale of operations as well as increasing the number of employees, our company will expand an office in District 1, […]September 23, 2020
The announcement of the office expansion of Nest Tech VN
Our company would like to announce the expansion of its corporate office from July 1, 2020.
In order to meet the needs of expanding the scale of operations as well as increasing the number of employees, our company will expand an office in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
At the new office, we will be fully equipped with facilities as well as an airy working space, beautiful view, creating the most comfortable and convenient working environment for our employees.
Due to the expansion of the office, we will update some information about the address and phone number as follows:
- Headquarter: T1-A01.01 M-One Apartment, 35/12 Be Van Cam Street, Tan Kieng Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Customer Service and Operations: Ben Thanh Tower, 136-138 Le Thi Hong Gam Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Hotline: (+84) 28 3535 4029
Thank you for always accompanying, caring for and loving Nest Tech VN!
Call center and Customer service
Rest room for staff
Kalpha is a mobile application allowing individuals to connect and share skills, experiences and knowledge on a one-to-one basis.September 12, 2020
Vietnam Innovator: Kalpha’s Quest To Make Personalized Learning Accessible
Launched in 2019 in Singapore, Kalpha is a mobile application allowing individuals to connect and share skills, experiences and knowledge on a one-to-one basis. In 2019, the education startup raised a 6-figure seed round investment with Vietnam-based VC firm Nest Tech, becoming the leading peer-to-peer platform in Singapore and nabbing the “People’s Choice 2019” prize at ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards.
The brainchild of Singaporean entrepreneurs Jack Soh and Jaden Teo, Kalpha’s leadership team now counts among its ranks Tri Nguyen, a Vietnamese startup entrepreneur turned social media influencer. Tri joined the team as a co-founder and CMO for Vietnam’s operations when Kalpha expanded into the market.
Kalpha App – Meetup. Learn. Share
Having studied in Singapore and the UK, Tri chose to return to Vietnam and contribute to his country’s growth. Before becoming an influential YouTuber, Tri worked in the advertising industry as well as serving as the CMO of xpath.co, a travel startup connecting tourists with local tour guides. Accustomed to fielding invitations to join startup teams, Tri was in no rush to commit to anyone while he was waiting for the right opportunity. That moment finally arrived with Kalpha’s expansion into Vietnam.
We ask Tri about Kalpha’s potential to transform Vietnam’s society and learn why it was important for him to join a company whose founders’ vision chimed with his own outlook.
What trends have you observed in Vietnam’s education system?
Vietnamese are still relying heavily on traditional teaching materials which might not be updated with relevant real-life knowledge. But I believe that there are different ways to learn, not just from school, but also from practical experience.
There are many successful individuals who are self-taught and didn’t go through the traditional education system: businessmen running multi-million dollar companies without an MBA degree, coding wizards who didn’t bother with a computer science diploma or successful athletes who skipped sports academies.
These individuals won’t be employed as teachers in traditional schools because in the eyes of academia they do not have the right qualifications. But they have great real-life skills and practical experiences that they can impart as mentors.
How is Kalpha helping to improve the education system?
Everyone has some knowledge that they want to learn, and everyone has some knowledge that they can share. By allowing everyone to share their knowledge on Kalpha, Kalpha provides the local community access to vast options of affordable yet quality knowledge that they are not able to obtain from traditional schools.
Kalpha is now creating a valuable community where individuals can learn affordably any real-life skills, knowledge and experiences: career-related, self-development, languages, overseas experiences, arts and crafts, music, sports, etc.
You can be a mentor to someone who is getting started in your field and do it pro bono or make it a source of income. We also see ourselves as a connector, a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn, connecting people for both personal and professional reasons.
Yangon Broom, a Myanmar-based company, today announced that it has raised an undisclosed third funding round led by Yangon Capital Partners, the investment arm of a financial advisory company Trust Venture Partners.September 5, 2020
Yangon Broom raises funding led by Yangon Capital Partners to launch mobile app, training school
Yangon Broom, a Myanmar-based company, today announced that it has raised an undisclosed third funding round led by Yangon Capital Partners, the investment arm of a financial advisory company Trust Venture Partners.
Other backers include existing investors such as Emerging Markets Entrepreneurs (EME) and Nest Tech VN, who had previously invested a five-figure funding round in the startup in August 2019.
The new capital will be used by the startup to launch a training school that will train people in high-quality cleaning services. It is also set to launch its own mobile app.
Yangon Broom is an on-demand quality household cleaning service
Founded in 2016, Yangon Broom is an on-demand quality household cleaning service, which manages hundreds of maids on their platform. Its clients range from households to SMEs and schools.
The funding comes at a time when the pandemic prompts the necessity of maintaining high levels of hygiene.
In addition to that, Yangon Broom also mentioned in a press statement that many cleaning companies are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving households and SMEs with limited cleaning options at a time where cleanliness is increasingly important.
Shinsuke Goto, Managing Director of Yangon Capital Partners, said that the investor is attracted to the startup due to its positive customer reviews and “clear market trend” in outsourcing domestic help.
“It’s clear that the co-founders have the right values for this very people-oriented business, putting their maids first and ensuring that they are properly rewarded for their efforts,” he said.
Recent funding activity in Myanmar includes a US$600,000 funding round for telemedicine startup MyanCare.
Startups from other Southeast Asian markets have also begun seeing Myanmar as a potential market to expand to, such as Indonesia-based Svara, which has mentioned plan to enter Myanmar’s broadcast market following their recent funding round.
Joosk Studio, a Myanmar-based digital animation company, announced that it has raised a six-figure investment in a funding round led by Vietnam-based venture capital firm Nest Tech VN.January 25, 2020
Nest Tech invests in Joosk studio
Joosk Studio, a Myanmar-based digital animation company, announced that it has raised a six-figure investment in a funding round led by Vietnam-based venture capital firm Nest Tech VN. Existing investor Emerging Markets Entrepreneurs (EME) also participated in the round.
Nest Tech invests in Joosk studio (Photo credit: EME)
Founded in 2015, Joosk runs a Facebook comic series while providing agency work to clients such as Facebook, CB Bank, Telenor, as well as NGOs, UN agencies, and the World Bank Group.
In September 2019, its proprietary animation series, Sassy Bound, won the Myanmar Influencer of the Year 2018 award in art and design. Since then, the startup has been doubling down on its comic series and producing Sassy Bound The Movie, a feature-length animation film, while continuing to grow its core agency business.
Sassy Bound The Movie will be in theaters nationwide by 2021, according to Thet Paing Kha, CEO of Joosk.
“At Joosk, we use humor and illustration to reach audiences and share messages. We’ve been running our Facebook comic series alongside our agency work for a while now and this latest investment lets us develop that side of the company to bring our audience something bigger than they’ve ever seen before,” said the chief exec.
He added that the company is also looking to find new ways to serve its business clients.
Joosk is the fifth company in Nest Tech’s portfolio, according to a statement. It previously secured an undisclosed amount of funding from EME in 2018.
Nest Tech VN’s Managing Partner, Soe Moe said, “Joosk have created a great business, serving high profile brands with their unique and funny animation. We’re excited to be a part of this movie, as well as helping Joosk to continue to build their creative agency”.
KoneSi – Myanmar startups receive investor funding to expand from Nest Tech VN KoneSi, a Yangon-based on-demand trucking start-up, has received a six-digit sum investment for nationwide expansion of Trust Venture Partners, a local financial advisory firm, and Nest Tech, a Vietnam-based venture capital company. This is the second round of investment for KoneSi after […]November 25, 2019
KoneSi - Myanmar startups receive investor funding to expand from Nest Tech VN
KoneSi, a Yangon-based on-demand trucking start-up, has received a six-digit sum investment for nationwide expansion of Trust Venture Partners, a local financial advisory firm, and Nest Tech, a Vietnam-based venture capital company.
This is the second round of investment for KoneSi after it initially received pre-seed funding from Phandeeyar in 2017, according to its release on Monday.
The start-up is planning to use the new funding in three strategic business areas-to boost the utilization of its technology platform, acquire talented staff, and expand to other commercial cities around the country to strengthen its user base.
Soe Pyae Aung, third from left, co-founder and chief operating officer of KoneSi Freight Co, joins his team in a group photo (Photo: supplied)
“We believe that understanding the power paradigm between the customers and truck suppliers is the key to success in the business,” said Ma Zar Phyu Tint Lwint, CEO of KoneSi.
“In addition to that, knowing the logistics freight flows throughout the year in the country is critical because that way we can help our partner truckers getting the return loads and operating efficiencies,” she said.
Businesses in Myanmar face difficulty in outsourcing transportation to third parties due to unreliability, lack of standardised procedures and non-transparent pricing among truckers, according to KoneSi.
Moreover, due to fluctuating transport pricing controlled by large trucking groups as well as unethical working nature, small fleet owners and individual truckers have to struggle to get regular jobs. KoneSi aims to bridge the gap between shippers and small fleet truckers.
“The services designed by market-savvy management will bring down logistics cost, a bottleneck of business operations across industries, and eventually benefit consumers in Myanmar” said Shinsuke Goto, managing director of YCP.
The ecosystem of KoneSi comprises more than 100 business shippers and over 2000 truckers; it also has an average month over month sales growth of 30 percent.
Before receiving investment from YCP and Nest Tech, KoneSi was first seeded by Phandeeyar, an early investor in Myanmar which has invested in KoneSi and 16 other local companies since 2016.
“Since they first joined Phandeeyar’s Startup Challenge 2017 and, later on, were invested by Phandeeyar in 2018, we’ve seen intense growth, both on them as founders and their startup as a business. This new round of investment reinforces our initial belief that they are on a path to positively transform the logistics industry in Myanmar “said João Dutra (Kyaw Aung), startup ecosystem director at Phandeeyar.
Just last week, Emerging Markets Entrepreneurs (EME), an early-stage venture capital firm, had also announced during its anniversary celebration on November 20 that it had invested a six-figure and five-figure sum respectively into two local startups: Natural Farm Fresh, a local company producing high-quality solar-dried chili powder and other dried products, and Yangon Broom, a home-services firm offering on-demand services including cleaning and ironing to residential homes and businesses.
Some of the game’s backers include Nest Tech, a Southeast Asian venture capital fund, focussing on seed-stage tech startups, as well as and Maxify, a Swedish tech investor focussing on social and gamified experiences.November 20, 2019
TrophyRoom secures another seed funding
TrophyRoom secures another seed funding for its third round from its existing investors.
TrophyRoom, Singaporean mobile football game, announces that it has received the third installment of its seed round from its existing investors. In its previous round, the company behind the game said that it focussed on building a minimum viable product, while this time they are eyeing global launch.
The company describes the TrophyRoom game as “taking the best parts of fantasy sports, shaving off some of the complexities, and adding a wonderfully stressful card game similar to Hearthstone on top.”
Nest Tech invests in TrophyRoom
Co-Founder and CEO Zacharias Tegefeldt elaborates: “There’s a void in the market for a social entertainment product that brings fans closer to the sport, the action – and to each other. We aim to fill that void and be there in your pocket whenever there’s a game on.”
TrophyRoom game puts players in the role of a club manager, allowing them to name the team, select the jersey colors, and start playing. Players are free to choose any real-world football player, even put Ronaldo and Messi in the same team, without any transfer budget restrictions, as long as they play a real-world match the same day.
Once the ultimate squad is formed, the player can challenge friends. When the real world matches start, the real action begins.
Players then must issue orders to your players by playing Tactics Card – a TrophyRoom’s feature. Each card comes with a potential gain and a potential loss, so it’s important to play the right card at the right time.
TrophyRoom supports all the major international football leagues, such as Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and plan to launch even more global leagues as they enter new markets.
Some of the game’s backers include Nest Tech, a Southeast Asian venture capital fund, focussing on seed-stage tech startups, as well as and Maxify, a Swedish tech investor focussing on social and gamified experiences.
Soe Moe Oo, Founder of Nest Tech and one of the early investors in TrophyRoom, says: “TrophyRoom caught my eye early on. I saw the social viral component and an unsatisfied growing global market with huge potential. The game is contagious, very hard not to play, for hardcore fans and casual followers alike.”
The company behind the game said that the product is currently in a pre-launch stage and TrophyRoom is recruiting heavily to their offices in Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City at the moment.
Yangon Capital Partners (YCP), Seed Myanmar, and Nest Tech come back as investors for the Yangon-operated second funding round. Flexible Pass, Myanmar-based health and fitness app, announces that it has raised a six-digit Pre-Series A funding.August 15, 2019
Flexible Pass gets 6-digit Pre-Series A funding
Yangon Capital Partners (YCP), Seed Myanmar, and Nest Tech come back as investors for the Yangon-operated second funding round.
Flexible Pass, Myanmar-based health and fitness app, announces that it has raised a six-digit Pre-Series A funding.
Without revealing the total funding raised, the second funding round was raised from three existing investors from the company’s first funding round: Yangon Capital Partners (YCP), Seed Myanmar, and Nest Tech.
Flexible Pass gets 6-digit Pre-Series A funding
The company said that it will use the funding to expand into the wellness industry by offering services such as spa and beauty services.
It will also develop a new subscription-based B2B product for businesses in the beauty and wellness industry that will be launched by the end of this year.
Flexible Pass currently operates in Yangon, Mandalay, and Pyin Oo Lwin after expanding in March 2019. It claimed to have over 1,000 monthly active users making over 2,500 bookings per month.
Through its mobile app, users can create an account, buy Flexible Pass points using a variety of payment options, and start making bookings.
Founded in March 2017 by its Founder and CEO Sully Bholat, Flexible Pass is a pay-as-you-go fitness pass that users can use to make bookings for 20 different fitness activities at over 150 locations across three cities of Myanmar.
Bholat admitted that he “derived” inspiration for the business from US-based fitness class subscription platform ClassPass in the US. When he saw a similar platform, GuavaPass, emerge in Asia, he started work on bringing his own version of it to Myanmar.
Flexible Pass is a graduate from Founder Institute, the idea-stage accelerator and startup launch programme run through Phandeeyar in Myanmar.
Flexible Pass is also a winner of 2017 Startup of the Year for Myanmar and Best HealthTech Startup of the Year for two years in a row in 2017 and 2018 for Myanmar, all in the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards.
Nest Tech, which invests in seed-stage technology startups, will have a minority stake in Waitrr. It will support the company’s expansion into South-east Asia, particularly Vietnam and Myanmar, where the fund has a strong presence.April 5, 2019
Nest Tech invests in Waitrr
Venture capital fund Nest Tech has invested an undisclosed sum in Singapore food and beverage technology startup, Waitrr, in its pre-series A round.
Nest Tech, which invests in seed-stage technology startups, will have a minority stake in Waitrr. It will support the company’s expansion into South-east Asia, particularly Vietnam and Myanmar, where the fund has a strong presence.
Waitrr’s food-ordering app
Waitrr’s food-ordering app allows restaurants to offer mobile ordering, which the company says will help restaurants increase sales and capture data points.
It does not charge its partners upfront, but runs on a commission and subscription model where merchants pay a monthly subscription, and a commission fee for every order that goes through the platform. Waitrr added that orders through its platform is growing 25 per cent month-on-month.
The company said that the app helps restaurants raise staff-efficiency by 40 per cent and table turnover by 20 per cent on average. In addition, its fully integrated loyalty and rewards programme helps retain customers.
Waitrr works with over 200 restaurants in Singapore including The Daily Cut, Guzman y Gomez, PAUL and Da Paolo Gastronomia.
The startup has already partnered Nets and OCBC, which allows the app’s users to pay for orders with NetsPay and OCBC Pay Anyone.
Singapore-based edtech startup Kalpha has raised a six-figure amount in a seed funding round from venture capital fund Nest Tech.March 11, 2019
Nest Tech invests in Kalpha
Singapore-based edtech startup Kalpha has raised a six-figure amount in a seed funding round from venture capital fund Nest Tech.
The Kalpha app – an edtech startup that focuses on sharing skills, experiences and knowledge, has received a “six-figure sum” in funding from Nest Tech, a VC fund focusing on seed-stage technology startups.
The investment will be used to grow the business, expand the team, and for marketing.
Nest Tech invests in Kalpha
Founded by Jack Soh and Jaden Teo, Kalpha is a mobile app that enables individuals to discover, connect and meet up to learn and share skills, experiences, and knowledge on a 1-to-1 basis. According to the startup, sharing sessions are designed to be time-flexible and budget-friendly.
The app is available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Kalpha was incubated in The SandBox by Ngee Ann Polytechnic and has also been awarded the SG Founder’s Grant by Enterprise Singapore.
Founded by Jack Soh and Jaden Teo
“Kalpha is a technology startup that truly embodies the sharing economy. We have great faith in the founders and their vision to revolutionise the way in which we learn new skills and knowledge. This is as much a strategic partnership as it is an investment, and we will work closely with Kalpha to grow their business and take it international,” said Soe Moe Kyaw Oo, Founding Partner of Nest Tech.
Established in 2018 by Soe Moe Kyaw Oo, Nest Tech is focusing on technology startups in Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar. Its other investments include Trophy Room, a peer-to-peer football gaming app (Singapore), Edu2Review, an education review platform (Vietnam), Flexible Pass, a health and fitness app (Myanmar), and Mote Poh, an employee benefits and rewards programme (Myanmar).
Mote Poh is a localised version of employee benefits programmes that leading companies in Singapore, the US and other countries have been using for decades.February 15, 2019
Nest Tech invests in Mote Poh
Mote Poh is a localised version of employee benefits programmes that leading companies in Singapore, the US and other countries have been using for decades.
(L-R) EME Myanmar’s Investment Manager Matthew Viner, and Mote Poh CEO Loring Harkness. EME Myanmar, a recently-launched early-stage VC fund, has led a six-digit seed round in Mote Poh, a Yangon-based employee-benefits-as-a-service startup in the country.
Nest Tech, a seed-stage VC fund focusing on technology startups in Myanmar, Vietnam and Singapore, also participated in the round.
Loring Harkness – Founder of Mote Poh
Founded in May 2018 by serial entrepreneur Loring Harkness, Mote Poh seeks to transform the HR industry by partnering with companies to recognise and reward employees. Currently based out of the Phandeeyar co-working space in downtown Yangon, Mote Poh is developing a mobile app, and expanding to other types of loyalty programmes.
According to Founder and CEO Harkness, Mote Poh is a localised version of employee benefits programmes that leading companies in Singapore, the US and other countries have been using for decades. Many companies in Myanmar provide employees with limited compensation packages: salary, personal income tax, social security contributions, and occasional ad hoc benefits like team dinners. At the same time, many companies have difficulty recruiting, recognising and rewarding, and retaining top talent.
“I spoke to dozens of company owners, CEOs and HR Managers. I asked them why they didn’t provide better benefits to their employees. Their answers were nearly all the same: they fear that implementing an employee benefits programme will be time consuming and expensive — and that employees wouldn’t appreciate it,” Harkness said.
“So I created Mote Poh — a small book full of 100 per cent free items and exclusive discounts at favourite shops, restaurants and activities across Myanmar — to help companies surprise and delight their employees every month. Mote Poh makes employee benefits easy — just great benefits employees love, with no hassle and no big price tag,” he added.
Mote Poh claims it has benefits for every taste and budget, and it is an effective tool to surprise and delight employees — which makes it easier and cheaper to recruit, recognise and reward, and retain staff.
Currently, Mote Poh serves over 60 clients, including Yoma Strategic Holdings and MyJobs.com.mm.
“In the years ahead, I see us partnering with leading employers to help them build truly inspiring places to work, which promote health, happiness and productivity, and then recognise and reward employees for great performance,” Harkness added.
Harkness has over eight years experience building, funding and mentoring impactful technology startups in Myanmar and across Southeast Asia. He was formerly Country Director of Building Markets, an international NGO focused on building Myanmar’s startup community. His previous ventures include Ngwe.Su, focusing on prize-linked savings accounts, ROSCAs and other financial inclusion tools for the under-banked, and Next Billion, which connects positive organizations to the next billion mobile consumers via mobile video, apps, and messaging platforms. He was also curator of TEDxYangon (2012) “People, Planet, Profit”.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College in the United States and a Master of Laws from Monash University in Australia.
Based in Yangon, EME focuses on ‘tech-plus’ companies that are layering technology on top of existing networks and industries. Since inception in October 2018, it has made two investments: CarsDB, Myanmar’s leading online car portal, as well as Joosk Studio, an animation studio producing digital content for Myanmar’s emerging consumers.
Nest Tech invests in and nurtures technology entrepreneurs at the seed and early growth stages, focusing on the fast growing markets of Southeast Asia. Its other investments include TrophyRoom, a peer-to-peer football gaming app in Singapore; Edu2Review, an education review platform in Vietnam; and Flexible Pass, a health and fitness app in Myanmar.
The health and fitness platform from Myanmar Flexible Pass has completed its fundraising round worth of six-digit dollar closed by Nest Tech, a VC firm that actively backs startups in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore. Participating in the round were Seed Myanmar and Yangon Capital Partners (YCP), which is the investment arm of the financial advisory firm, Trust Venture Partners (TVP).October 25, 2018
Nest Tech invests in Flexible Pass
The health and fitness platform from Myanmar Flexible Pass has completed its fundraising round worth of six-digit dollar closed by Nest Tech, a VC firm that actively backs startups in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore. Participating in the round were Seed Myanmar and Yangon Capital Partners (YCP), which is the investment arm of the financial advisory firm, Trust Venture Partners (TVP).
Nest Tech invests in Flexible Pass
The company plans to use the funding to expand into new markets such as beauty & lifestyle and to cover neighbouring city Mandalay, the second largest city in population.
Flexible was founded in June 2017 by CEO Sully Bholat, CEO and Founder of Flexible Pass, who told e27 that he “was very inspired” by US-based fitness class subscription platform ClassPass in the US. When he saw a similar platform, GuavaPass, emerge in Asia, he started work on bringing his own version of it to Myanmar.
“I noticed there was no one else who’s doing a fitness startup in Myanmar at that time, and I see a big market opportunity there, so I tried to start it to get the first-mover advantage in the country,” he said.
The difference between Flexible Pass and the aforementioned fitness class platforms is that in place of a subscription package, users book classes on a “pay-as-you-go model with reload packages.”
“Our initial model was like a subscription-based model like ClassPass and GuavaPass but we quickly learned that users in Myanmar don’t like the idea of the subscription model and putting a a maximum limit on the number of times users can visit a studio in a month,” said Bholat.
There are currently 3 reload packages available for users to buy and they are 30 points, 50 points and 100 points where 1 point = US$1. All the points are valid for use for 6 months from the date of purchase. Users can pay for these packages using cash or bank transfers.
Flexible Pass has partnered with 80 gyms and fitness centres in Yangon. It currently has about 500 monthly active users with about 2,000 bookings made monthly.
Flexible Pass’ users take an average of 4 classes or fitness activities per month. Bholat claims that users can save up to 40 per cent by booking through the platform instead of paying the walk-in-rates of its partner fitness centres and gyms.
“We have over 1,000 unique users of Flexible Pass so far and about 10,000 bookings have been made so far since it officially launched on June 2017. Initially, the usage rate has been low but we have seen a big increase in growth in the year of 2018,” said Bholat.
The low usage the result of a chicken and egg problem: the company could not get enough users as there were few top fitness centres and gyms on the platform and the centres themselves were reluctant to sign up as there were few users.
Bholat believes that Flexible Pass will be able to hit profitability in two to three years.
Flexible Pass was a winner of Rice Bowl’s ‘Startup of the Year in 2017’ and ‘Best HealthTech Startup of the Year’ in 2017 and this year consecutively in Myanmar. It was also a graduate of Phandeeyar-based Founder Institute.
“Flexible Pass has huge potential to become a major regional player in this sector with its disruption in the traditional fitness industry. We look forward to being a part of the growth and success of this startup,” said Soe Moe Kyaw Oo, Founder and Managing Partner Nest Tech.
Singapore’s Nest Tech invests in Vietnamese startup Edu2Review Vietnam’s online education and booking platform Edu2Review has raised an undisclosed sum of funding from Singapore’s Nest Tech venture capital fund. Austin Carter, co-founder and chief financial officer of Edu2Review confirmed the transaction with DEALSTREETASIA, adding that this investment has raised its valuation to seven-digit USD. […]April 23, 2018
Singapore’s Nest Tech invests in Vietnamese startup Edu2Review
Vietnam’s online education and booking platform Edu2Review has raised an undisclosed sum of funding from Singapore’s Nest Tech venture capital fund. Austin Carter, co-founder and chief financial officer of Edu2Review confirmed the transaction with DEALSTREETASIA, adding that this investment has raised its valuation to seven-digit USD.
Ho Hoan and Austin – founders of Edu2Review
Edu2Review aims to serve 7.5 million users, attract 120,000 course bookings, process data of 20,000 training units in Vietnam this year and then expand the business across Southeast Asia.
To achieve this goal, the company plans to raise additional $3.5 million from investors. The fundraising will be used to recruit 50 more employees and help promote marketing activities across the country, the startup said in an announcement.
Nest Tech venture capital fund was founded by Soe Moe Kyaw Oo, an English businessman working in Singapore. It focuses on tech start-ups, looking for great ideas, a strong team and an executable plan. The fund can invest $50K-$100K per venture, and have a team of programmers to support entrepreneurs.