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).