Malaysia: Search engine for colleges Easyuni secures Series B investment from Axiata Fund

Visual of Easyuni portal. December 2015

Kuala Lumpur-based EasyUni has secured its Series B Financing round from ADIF (AXIATA Digital Innovation Fund), enabling further scaling and growth as it seeks to establish itself as a leading Asian education portal. The financial details of the investment were undisclosed.

According to a release, the latest infusion of capital will be used to fund regional expansion, accelerated product growth and innovation, investment in additional sales and marketing resources, as well as strategic acquisitions. The latest investment also values the company at an ‘eight-figure sum’.

Founded in 2011, it functions as a search engine and directory of universities and colleges worldwide that connects the two separate groups, accompanied by rich content, student reviews, photos, and videos of the different universities it has listed. According to Crunchbase, it is the biggest player in Southeast Asia, with a claimed database of more than 2000 universities and over 70,000 programmes across 20 countries.

An online portal that offers a comprehensive and complete platform for college and university applications for school leavers and working adults, EasyUni claims to have helped generate $130 million worth of business for its clients to date, as well as aiding over 3 million students to decide what and where to study, over 70,000 courses and programmes from 2,000 colleges and universities across over 20 countries.

Commenting on the mission of Easyuni, Edwin Tay, CEO and co-founder, stated: “We believe that in the future, university and college applications will be done online, thus disrupting the current conventional method of offline form filling or personal application via university registration offices. We also believe, students in the future would be less dependent on agents and counsellors and a Do-it-yourself (DIY) will be the mainstay when students search/compare and apply.”

Tay elaborated :“ wants to be the portal to go to when students all over the world looks & apply to a university of their choice. And with this capital, it will gives us additional resources to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate rapidly, and deliver on our vision.”

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Higher education service providers are facing increased competition, with the expansion of education vendors globally, a reduction in grants, as well as tightened regulations regarding international students, who tend to be a major source of revenue. EasyUni predicts that a wave of consolidation will see a shift towards smaller institutions either merging or being acquired by larger groups in the tertiary education sector.

However, there is considerable market potential, given that a British Council 2012 Report noted in excess of 10 million students seeking tertiary education per annum. With the rise of the global middle class and world population, this is a consistently growing market segment. This is implied by the proliferation of specialist education technology accelerators.

With global average internet penetration rate at 43 per cent as of 2015, contributing to the large US$400 million education advertising market, EasyUni is strongly positioned at, given that on average, 11 per cent of the total international student population in Western institutions of higher education (IHE) are Southeast Asian students, according to Nielsen Research.

Total student acquisition fees of up to US$600 million per annum are spent by Western IHEs to acquire Southeast Asian students. Additionally, Western educational technology firms are seeing an increasing percentage of revenue coming from Asia. Together, this results in an increasing interest in developing products that can engage Asian consumers directly.

Udemy’s US$65 million funding round is a case in point, with the assumption that it intends to expand into English language content-driven markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Philippines. Easyuni’s ability to secure a Series B investment is significant in the current market environment, given the turbulence in public capital markets and the rarity of Series B investments, coupled with the difficulty of securing a Series B investment.

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