China: Hujiang invests $3m in ed-tech startup Italki

Italki, a marketplace for online language teachers, announced a $3 million Series A funding from Hujiang, China’s largest e-learning platform.

The funding will be used to expand italki’s marketplace, which connects learners with online language teachers for one-on-one language lessons. Italki claims to have more than 3,000 active language teachers on its platform.

Teachers on Italki negoatiate their own prices, and the company takes 15 per cent commission from  lessons transacted on the platform. The average price for an hour of personal lessons is $10-15 per hour, which can be more affordable than traditional language schools and tutoring.

“We believe the key to learning a foreign language is building a genuine connection to a native teacher. We’re excited to work with Hujiang, and we hope that we’ll be able to reach more Chinese students looking for foreign teachers,” said co-founder and chief executive Kevin Chen.

Also readFunding for edtech firms has exploded in India, but China leads with mega-deals

About half of the students on the platform learn English. Other popular languages include Spanish, French, Chinese, and Japanese. Italki started operations in 2007 and raised angel funding in 2012.

The Chinese edtech market is estimated to be worth $20 billion. Italki plans to expand its services in the nation, and would benefit from the experience of Hujiang, which has more than 100 million users.

“When I studied Chinese in Shanghai, my progress was a lot faster than when I learned French in high school. It wasn’t because the textbooks or teachers were better. The difference was that I had many opportunities to meet native speakers and to use the language for real communication. We’re trying to give learners everywhere that same opportunity by connecting them to native teachers online,” Chen said.

Hujiang has been expanding to new geographies, much like its bigger counterparts in other industries, such as Tencent and Alibaba.

It has tied up with companies such as international education companies such as McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and HarperCollins.

That strategy is similar to that of Italki, which counts U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Brazil as its top markets.

Hujiang recently raised $157 in venture funding from China Minsheng Investment, and Chinese tech giant Baidu, among others.

Also read:

China: Greenwoods Investment leads $18.2m Series C in e-learning biz Entstudy

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.