Vietnam after-school learning startup Marathon raises $1.5M pre-seed round – TechCrunch



Marathon Schooling was created after its founders realized after-school training in Vietnam hadn’t advanced a lot since they had been children. A few of the hottest tuition facilities in large cities educate lots of of scholars directly. “They’re packed like sardines and that basically has not modified previously one or twenty years once I went to those types of courses in Vietnam,” mentioned co-founder Pham Duc.

Pham launched Marathon six weeks in the past along with his brother-in-law Tran Viet Tung to make after-school studying extra accessible in Vietnam. Right now the startup is asserting it has raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding led by Forge Ventures (a brand new fund launched by Alto Companions), with participation from traders together with Venturra Discovery and iSeed SEA.

Marathon is at the moment centered on math and science programs for grades six to 12 of the Nationwide Curriculum developed by Vietnam’s Ministry of Schooling and Coaching (MOET), and can finally cowl all MOET topics.

Earlier than founding Marathon, Pham was an investor at TPG International, whereas Tran is a serial entrepreneur whose earlier startups embody journey platforms and Christina’s. Each grew up in Hanoi and spent a lot of their childhoods going to after-school studying facilities.

About 50% to 70% of Okay-12 college students attend after-school courses, however the business could be very fragmented, says Pham. Many studying facilities are run by former public college lecturers, and are clustered in main cities.

“For those who communicate to college students, I feel the most important challenge we’re seeing is accessibility,” mentioned Pham. “For those who’re a pupil in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, there’s no assure that you simply’ll get into courses run by high tutors.” In the meantime, college students in different areas typically journey to Tier 1 cities earlier than main exams, like college entrance exams, staying in a hostel for a couple of month whereas attending prep programs.

For lecturers, working a middle means dealing with administrative duties like advertising and marketing, admissions and mum or dad communications, which cuts into the time they spend designing their programs. When the present COVID-19 lockdowns began a number of months in the past, they needed to swap shortly to on-line instructing platforms.


When lecturers be a part of Marathon, the corporate takes over administrative duties. Its on-line mannequin additionally means they’ll attain extra college students, together with in different cities. Pham says lecturers who swap from offline facilities to Marathon can probably improve their earnings two to a few instances.

Earlier than becoming a member of Marathon, lecturers undergo a screening course of, together with what number of of they earlier college students handed exams or improved their grades. Marathon pairs them with instructing assistants who work immediately with teams of about 20 to 25 college students throughout on-line lectures, answering questions by way of on the spot messenger, after which handle breakout rooms to undergo the teachings intimately.

Marathon launched first in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis and its growth technique will take cultural variations between the north and south of Vietnam under consideration. For instance, it is going to discover tutors with regional accents, and modify its advertising and marketing methods.

“We’re going to deal with the lecturers and curriculum individually, as a result of the 2 areas are fairly totally different. Mother and father within the south are extra experimental and extra prepared to check out new companies. Mother and father within the north very a lot depend on their community and word-of-mouth, so they’re extra cautious about making an attempt out what we’re doing,” Tran mentioned. “So once we serve the north and south, we serve distinctive units of shoppers.”

Marathon plans to proceed its online-only mannequin after lockdowns finish and youngsters return to in-person courses for normal college. “After one yr in intermittent lockdowns, we’ve observed there’s been a marked shift in dad and mom’ habits. They’re much extra receptive to on-line studying. Proper now, despite the fact that there’s a lockdown, attendance charges are 99%,” mentioned Pham. “Sooner or later, I feel on-line is the best way to go and it’s way more scalable, so we wish to focus our technique round that.”


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