Other details of the investment were not disclosed, but Ngo said Everest Education will use the funding to expedite the development of a proprietary software platform and open more learning centres in Ho Chi Minh City.
Everest Education currently provides supplementary courses in Math, English, test preparation, computer programming, private tutoring and STEAM camps (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Its services are optimised for the premium customer segments, including international school students and those who plan to study abroad.
“However, as company mission, we want to transform how learning happens throughout Vietnam,” said Ngo.
The startup is solving the persistent “one size fits all” problem in the Vietnamese education system by providing personalized education for students with the customized materials at the right level of difficulty.
“We try to increase the level of personal attention and create the right interaction between students as well. They become teachers for each other, and practice other skills like soft skills and teamwork skills, in addition to learning the content, and they learn it twice as fast,” Ngo added.
Unlike a lot of other edtech startups in Vietnam, which are built to target the digital natives through online activities without a campus, Everest Education’s online system has a function to help teachers manage the physical classrooms in a blended learning model. “It’s not about showing laptops and tablets to have the students stare at the screens. That is not engaging enough,” Ngo said.
Ngo and his co-founder, Don Le, are two overseas Vietnamese entrepreneurs with financial and investment background. Ngo is also a co-founder of flash sales site TOP MOT, which has also secured a $1 million financing round.
“We see the opportunity to become a unique education player in Vietnam,” said Ngo, reasoning why he and Le gave up the investment careers in the US to come back to Vietnam. The country had the same quality and values as in other markets to create companies with large scale impacts to lead innovation, he said.
“It is a social value but it’s a real business opportunity as well.”
According to government data, Vietnam has some 22 million K-12 students. However, there has been virtually no player with true dominating position in the space.
In addition, education is a really fragmented market with very few brands and a lot of private tutors, as per Ngo’s assessment, even as he estimated the market at $3 billion just for urban tutoring.