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What Indian startups can learn from Chinese online tutor startup VIPKID


Education plays an important role in human life. In fact, it contributes in all the aspects- from emotional to the physical development of children, and has a direct effect on their overall development and future well-being.

And this is exactly what the Chinese start-up VIPKid is doing for the kids in its country. The start-up help students aged 5-12 match-up online with best teachers and instructors in primarily English, Math, Science and other subjects from developed countries like America, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and East and Southeast Asia.  The online Classes take place for two or three 25-minute sessions each week.

The company claims to offer immersive one-on-one English language instruction provided online by highly qualified teachers. The curriculum is based on the U.S. Common Core State Standards.

Founded in 2013 by Cindy Mi, and incubated by Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, VIPKID focuses on teaching English through one-on-one video courses. Among the big names, Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and former Google China chief Kaifu Lee backed VIPKid when it was just an idea.

Mi says that VIPKID has been growing at 10x year-over-year, and it now has half a million registered students in China.

VIPKID says its monthly revenues have now reached 400 million renminbi, or $60 million in U.S. dollars, with projected annual revenues of $750 million, U.S.

The firm boasts that it now has 20,000 teachers delivering daily lessons to 200,000 students from 32 nations. The vast majority of its business comes from the English-language services it offers to families in China.  It has also given thousands of teachers the ability to earn supplementary money by teaching English.

VIPKID witnesses great potential to promote its Mandarin-language services in the United States. Three years old firm, VIPKID recruits teachers through referrals and social media. Every month it receives 10,000 to 20,000 applications.

According to the founder Mi, teachers hiring are tested and screened and based on evaluation about one out of every 10 applicants are approved. Once through this, they go through final test before offering online tuition. On the platform, the majority of instructors are experienced current or former teachers.

Talking about USP of the platform, Mi explains that their efficacy, teacher community, and research data are a key differentiator against its competitors in the market. In China, online education market size is of $15 billion.

However, in comparison, India online education segment is still in nascent stage. According to Google and KPMG joint report titled, Online Education in India: 2021, the online education industry will grow at a healthy to become USD 1.96 billion industry by 2021.

Bengaluru-based BYJU’s is single firm that has made most of the opportunity and operates a range of online classes in India from students from grades 4-12. Upcoming start-ups can utilize more technology-based approach and tactics adopted by VIPKID to captilize the Indian market.

Recently on Aug 22, in a largest financing globally for the K-12 online education sector, VIPKID  finished the D round of financing and received an investment to the sum of $200 million.

Investment is led by Sequoia Capital, and other investors, including Tencent Holding, YF Capital, ZhenFund, Matrix Partners China and ZTwo Capital. The adoption rate for online education, especially online English education, has been tremendous, says Mi.

Now, the firm is valued $1.5 billion. Though Mi still wants the platform to be number one in China before she can think about an IPO.

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