2020 Southeast Asia EdTech 50. Where are they now?

How are Southeast Asia’s Top 50 EdTech Startups of 2020 performing and where are they now?

Education Intelligence Unit

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September 19, 2021

In June 2020, HolonIQ announced the Southeast Asia EdTech 50 — a list of the 50 most promising EdTech startups headquartered in Southeast Asia. As we open applications for our annual SEA EdTech 50, we take a look at where the 2020 cohort are now.

The HolonIQ Southeast Asia EdTech 50 is drawn from a broad ASEAN focused cohort of new players rapidly gaining the attention of students, parents, policymakers and investors alike. Southeast Asia EdTech has seen nearly US$480 million of venture capital in over 200 individual investments over the last five years and it’s just getting started.

Innovation in learning and talent is spread right across the region. Companies spanning Up Skilling, Language Learning, Learner Support, LMS/SIS, STEAM and Coding, Financing, Skills Verification and more – made it onto the HolonIQ 2020 Southeast Asia EdTech 50.

The Annual SEA EdTech 50 is focused on identifying young, fast growing and innovative learning and up-skilling start-ups based in the region. To be eligible, startups are generally less than 10 years old (though there are some exceptions), are either headquartered in Southeast Asia, or predominately focused on the market (e.g. > 80% revenue/customers, are pre exit (not acquired or listed) and not a subsidiary of a larger company or controlled by an investor group (e.g. via private equity buyout or controlling investment).

Governments, institutions, investors, schools and educators, influencers and talent leaders from across the region and around the world look to HolonIQ’s SEA EdTech 50 to better understand the dynamics of innovation in the market and the teams who are making a difference in education outcomes.

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HolonIQ's Scoring Fingerprint

In 2020, HolonIQ’s Education Intelligence Unit evaluated 500+ EdTech companies based in Southeast Asia, powered by data and insights from our Global Intelligence Platform and local experts. Each organization was assessed using our proprietary scoring engine and following HolonIQ’s startup scoring rubric. Our normalization algorithm ensures that individual scoring bias is eliminated to create an equitable baseline and allows experts to review their own ‘scoring fingerprint’ relative to other experts. HolonIQ’s startup scoring rubric covers the following dimensions:

Market. The quality and relative attractiveness of the specific market in which the company competes.
Product. The quality and uniqueness of the product itself.
Team. The expertise and diversity of the team.
Capital. The financial health of the company and in particular its ability to generate or secure sufficient funding.
Momentum. Positive changes in the size and velocity of the company over time.

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Where are they now?

The 2020 Southeast Asia EdTech 50 cohort have seen significant fundraising activity over the last 12 months, with 20 venture rounds – one third over $10M, indicative of the positive momentum of the region. Indonesian K12 learning app, Ruangguru raised $55M and Singapore-based talent and upskilling platform Glints, $22M. Student financing solution, Pintek, raised $21M, while college discovery platform, Cialfo, secured $15M. Language learning apps ELSA ($15M) and LingoAce ($5M) also secured funds. Local and global investors are seeing the potential in the region with teams such as Tiger, GGV, GSV Ventures, Northstar, Sequoia, UOB Venture Management, Shunwei Capital and Insignia all investing in this cohort of startups.

Indonesia’s growth streak continues with over half of the fundraising from the last year coming from (mainly) Jakarta-based startups, such as Ruangguru, Pintek, CoLearn, Gredu and Zenius. Singapore is also a strong regional base with Glints, Cialfo, LingoAce, ErudiFi and Manabie raising funds. Startups from the 2020 cohort from Vietnam and Thailand also saw some fundraising activity in the last year.

Partnerships, Expansion & Growth Activities

Last year’s cohort have been active in partnerships, new products and regional expansion, with teams such as Emeritus growing their university partnerships in the region and globally as well as expanding their team, with plans to hire 1,000 more staff in 2021. Glints Academy has teamed up with Indonesia-based Amman Mineral to provide tech scholarships for the Glints Academy is a 16-week coding program. ArcLab, a mobile learning SaaS platform focused on upskilling the deskless workforce has partnered with one of Singapore’s largest casual dining and quick-service restaurant companies to train their frontline workforce.

In anticipation of the return of international study in 2022, Cialfo has been growing it’s university partnerships to enable universities, for example Washington State,  to engage with with more than a quarter of a million international high school students using Cialfo’s AI-driven platform.

Tech training is top of mind for EdTech’s in the region and Indonesia-based Cakap has launched a teaching training program through Cakap Teacher Academy to support capacity building in teachers, while Singapore rolled out a micro-learning course ‘AI For Citizens’ via the Gnowbe self-learning platform.

Register for the launch webinar to learn more about the 2020 cohort and of course, be the first to know the 50 startups selected as part of the 2021 Southeast Asia EdTech 50.

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