CoLearn: A Weapon of Mass Instruction
Indonesian EdTech startup CoLearn provides math solutions to 3.5 million students. GSV Ventures is proud to announce we have co-led CoLearn’s $10 Million Series A alongside Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI).
At GSV we’ve coined the term Weapons of Mass Instruction. The term refers to rapidly scaling education technology companies, reaching tens of millions of learners at warp speed due to the mass availability of mobile devices and internet access. As GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley, our mission is to focus on both established and emerging markets around the world that are innovating and scaling globally. CoLearn is truly a Weapon of Mass Instruction, providing engaging, accurate, cost effective, and easily accessible content to students via its mobile app and WhatsApp. The startup is revolutionizing education in Indonesia with scalable tools that help students with homework and exam preparation. CoLearn’s platform currently provides math instruction for students in grades 7–12, but eventually plans to expand to cover all STEM materials for grades 4–12. Here’s why we think CoLearn is a Weapon of Mass Instruction …
Indonesia is an emerging market with the 4th largest population in the world, 50+ million K-12 students, and an education market size of $80B. However, the country ranks in the bottom 10% of PISA scores, a global ranking that evaluates educational systems by measuring 15-year-old students’ performance across mathematics, science, and reading. Many Indonesian students receive sub-par K-12 education in the classroom and travel far distances to after-school tutoring centers, which is time intensive and unreliable due to poor quality standards of tutors in the region. Getting homework questions answered once took two hours. With CoLearn it takes two minutes.
“Unlike Indian and Chinese students who go to tutoring centers to primarily learn concepts, most Indonesian students go to get questions to their answers. Through technology, we are removing cost associated with Q&A and making it possible to channel the time and monetary savings to instead focus on learning fundamentals from great teachers in an interactive online environment. We believe that for Indonesian students to be competitive globally, they need have a solid foundation and must lose the fear of subjects like math.” said the CEO and Co-Founder of CoLearn, Abhay Saboo.
CoLearn’s AI-driven automated doubt solver tool provides homework help and exam prep through near-instant feedback. In addition, CoLearn recently began rolling out its live class offering with top teachers in the country. These classes are one-to-many lessons taught by pre-vetted teachers of the highest quality in the region. The company recruits “Star Teachers” who have proven track records in teaching STEM online and high social media followings.
CoLearn’s library of 250,000 video solutions has been put to good use. The platform’s user base is growing like wildfire. The online platform launched in August 2020 and already has 3.5 million student users. WhatsApp provides frictionless sign up for students in a country that is heavily native to the app. In addition, given that a significant percentage of Indonesian students use secondhand phones with limited storage, CoLearn’s WhatsApp integration makes it so that students can use the platform without having to download an app that would compete for space on their phones. Phones are already integrated into students’ homework habits, as 67% of Indonesian students use smartphones in class, and even more use them to do their homework (81%).
CoLearn is focused on deep learning, as opposed to surface learning, with the goal of increasing learning outcomes for students. The first 30 seconds of each video explains crucial learning frameworks behind the type of question and then dives into how to solve it. During Indonesia’s recent exam week at the end of 2020, 1 million questions were searched in a single day. Eighty percent of survey respondents on CoLearn’s platform reported an increase in grades during the recent final examination period. CoLearn’s early traction has led the company to be awarded by Google as one of the Best Apps of 2020 on Personal Growth.
CoLearn’s 3 Co-Founders have complimentary skills to scale the company into one of Indonesia’s top learning tools. Harvard Business School grad Abhay Saboo (CEO) is a serial entrepreneur who previously started Viva Health, a company providing healthcare access to millions in Indonesia. Marc Irawan (COO) uses his mix of corporate experience and personal teaching experience as a coding instructor to focus on providing quality education through CoLearn. Sandeep Devaram (CPO) digs deep into the product and tech using his experience as the Director of Product Management at BYJU’s, an EdTech decacorn and India’s most highly valued private EdTech company.
CoLearn’s mission to bring Indonesian students to the top 50% of PISA Scores is in line with GSV’s longstanding interest in increasing access to education in Southeast Asia. The ASU+GSV Summit profiled the rising tiger economies in SEA that possess tremendous opportunity for growth in the education sector. With a population of 655M and 40M new internet users in 2020, SEA is primed to be one of the main global players in the digital learning sector, alongside China and India. The region is now experiencing explosive growth in EdTech, giving rise to companies like Ruangguru, which was founded in 2014 and is now worth $500M.
On partnering with GSV Ventures COO Marc Irawan said, “The last time I spoke with Deborah Quazzo, I was telling her about a problem I had. She really dug into it asking more about it and providing her thoughts from an education standpoint. It’s refreshing to not just have a financial partner but someone who dives deep … What we really liked about GSV is that they are US based EdTech investors. Too often EdTech focus on just Tech and not Ed. We want to make sure we build a company that is long lasting.”
GSV co-led CoLearn’s $10 million Series A round alongside Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI). The startup is a graduate of Sequoia Capital’s exclusive Surge accelerator program. Co-investors include Sequoia Capital’s India Surge, AC Ventures, Leo Capital, Alpha JWC Ventures, January Capital, Taurus Ventures, and Alter Global, bringing the total funds raised to $16.75 million since August 2020.
This blog is co-authored by Sophie Hoffman, Associate at GSV Ventures. Sophie is responsible for sourcing CoLearn.