Vietnamese edtech startup Clevai raises $2.1m led by Altara Ventures

Edtech startup Clevai Vietnam has raised $2.1 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Altara Ventures, according to the company’s regulatory filings accessed by DealStreetAsia – DATA VANTAGE.

Clevai CEO Tran Manh Thang confirmed the development to DealStreetAsia.

According to Clevai’s filings with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Singapore-based Altara Ventures invested $1.5 million in the new funding round. Meanwhile, return backers FEBE Ventures injected $500,000 in the edtech startup and global marketplace investor FJ Labs pumped in $100,000.

The company — an AI-enabled, after-school tutoring platform for K-12 students — is valued at $12.1 million following the latest round, according to DATA VANTAGE.

“As serial entrepreneurs, we know investors are long-term partners in building a great company. My co-founders Pham Quoc Hung, Pham Minh Tuan, and I are honoured to have Altara lead our pre-A funding because of their passion for education in Vietnam and their ability to move quickly while understanding our business,” said Tran.

He also said that the funding will be used to enhance the company’s live-streaming infrastructure, extend AI-driven personalised learning capabilities, and push forward IP with the support of advisors from Harvard, Oxford and Google with the goal of serving 20,000+ students.

The latest financing comes a year after Clevai raised $900,000 in a seed funding round from FEBE Ventures, FJ Labs, BOD Tech Ventures, and individual investors Dan Bertoli and John Kaaiohelo.

According to Olivier Raussin, co-founder & managing partner at FEBE Ventures, Clevai sits at the intersection of three powerful market drivers. First, Vietnam’s Confucian roots place a high value on education. Second, a large and young population means a very large market opportunity for K-12 education. Third, Clevai drives social impact by broadening access to high-quality materials and teachers, he said.

Both founders Tran and Pham were executives at Topica Edtech Group. Pham was CEO of Topica Edtech Group while Tran was CEO of Topica Thailand and Founding CEO of Edumall, which offers soft skill courses in Thailand and Vietnam.

In 2020, Pham stepped down from his position as part of a top management reshuffle.

Altara Ventures, the lead investor, is a technology venture capital firm headquartered in Singapore and investing across Southeast Asia. The VC firm invests in pre-A, Series A, and Series B stage companies building innovative solutions in Fintech, Logistics & Mobility, Consumer, Enterprise Software & Deep Tech, Healthcare, and Edtech.

“Clevai is bringing tech early to kids. We are honoured to support the founding team as they define the future of digital learning in our region,” said Gavin Teo, general partner, Altara Ventures.

Vietnam-based FEBE Ventures, the co-investor, is a $25-million VC firm launched in 2019. FEBE Ventures invests in both Vietnamese startups and Southeast Asian companies, that have operations in Vietnam.

Its most recent investment is SoBanhang, an app for small retailers in Vietnam that raised $1.5 million in seed funding in August this year. Other companies in iys portfolio include foodtech startup TerraLife, fintech startups Nano Technologies, Infina.vn, and proptech startup Propzy.

Surging edtech demand

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to school shutdowns and movement restrictions across the region, has driven a surge in demand for online learning as well as piqued investor interest.

On Thursday, CoderSchool, a Vietnamese edtech startup that offers online coding courses, announced raising $2.6 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Singapore-based VC Monk’s Hill Ventures.

Last month, Vietnamese edtech startup Marathon raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round led by Singapore-based early-stage venture capital firm Forge Ventures to launch its edtech operations. The round was joined by Venturra Discovery, iSeed SEA, and undisclosed angel investors.

Vietnam has approximately 18 million K-12 students, who rely on after-school tuitions, according to Marathon.

In July, Educa Corporation, which operates edtech startup Edupia, raised $2 million in a Series A funding round from ReDefine Capital Fund, the Singapore-registered arm of Alibaba-backed eWTP Technology Innovation Fund.

Earlier, Edmicro had closed a pre-Series A+ round from Singapore-based venture capital firm BEENEXT, Qualgro, and existing investor Insignia Ventures Partners.

Meanwhile, AI-based English learning app ELSA, founded by Vu Van, raised $15 million in its Series B round co-led by VI (Vietnam Investments) Group and international investor SIG in January while Manabie, a Singapore-based education tech firm with operations in Vietnam secured $3 million in investment from Vietnam-based VC firm Do Ventures, Japan’s Genesia Ventures, and Chiba Dojo.

Besides the spurt in overall funding this year, there is also more participation from overseas edtech players operating in Vietnam such as Astrid (Sweden), Geniebook (Singapore), Snapask (Hong Kong), and Ruangguru (Indonesia).

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.

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.