What is EdTech?
Progressing through the 21st century today, technology is transforming the conventional education systems and providing better accessibility of quality education. Young Thai changemakers have anticipated this situation a while ago and discovered an idea to use digital intelligence as a key driver to enhance genetically-driven intelligences like IQ and EQ – a new field of study known as Educational Technology (EdTech).
Eventhough EdTech companies has generally been outshined by other “sexier” tech startups an industries (such as FoodTech, TravelTech, RetailTech, and especially FinTech), we cannot deny that the global education market is huge – with a total market of over USD 5 trillion per annum. Therefore, the question is how Thailand can be a part of global EdTech circle (as covered by Forbes) while its market is expected to grow 17% per annum and reach USD252 billion globally by 2020, as documented in a report by EdTech XGlobal and IBIS capital.
The answer is simple, we have to start by addressing pain points in education system.
How Technology Can Make a Difference
In many countries, students nowadays are born with digital DNA. Some kids learn how to swipe their phones even before they learn how to talk. They are exposed to technologies on a daily basis outside the classroom. Therefore, it is apparent that the “four-wall learning environment” of a typical classroom may not be the ideal medium to educate and prepare the youth for the real working world anymore.
Parents today also have perception that the higher they pay for their children after schools, the higher the chances will be acquired to get their children into more prestigious universities, particularly the top ranked ones in Bangkok. All in all, Thai hiring culture still prefers a 4 years degree with a “big” university name.
In order to solve this, what if we attempt to innovate and condense the learning process using technology such as:
- First, matching suitable teachers or artificial intelligence with students via an online platform
- Second, shifting the “proof of formal education” to “proof of trainings, accomplishments, and skills”
- Third, expand the market of adult learning due to Thai aging populations (as the saying goes – we should never stop learning)
- And finally, promoting health education to all members of the society
In relation to the above, we will be talking about 3 Thai EdTech startups who have the solutions for us.
1. SkillLane: Thailand’s No.1 and Largest Online School
With over 200 coursses, 100 experts, and 75,000 students, SkillLane is widely known as the No. 1 and largest online school available anywhere and anytime for the convenience of the consumers. They have a wide range of online courses, covering interesting topics such as cooking, language teaching, craft designing, digital marketing, personality development, and even corporate-related trainings. SkillLane has shifted the general perception that learning only for the youth. When the truth is far from that, in fact, learning should be an ongoing process and one should still be learning even when you’re well into your adulthood.
SkillLand is a huge marketplace for young professionals and was established by the two talented individuals, Mr. Titipong Pisitwuttinan and Mr. Ekachat Assavarujikul. SkillLane now is in partnerships with Microsoft Thailand and Sanook to offer professional training while their investors are CyberAgent Ventures and 500 Startups.
2. Taamkru: An Online Gamified Learning Platform
Taamkru, translated to “ask the teacher” in Thai, is a recent well-known learning platform for educational development, which allows parents to keep track on their own kids’ potentials and progress via website or application available on iOS and Android devices. The company was co-founded by Mr. Wicharn Manawanitiarern in 2013 with the purpose to fix Thailand’s education system. As Thai education ranks 8 out of 10 among Southeast Asian countries, this pain point was used as a real motive to set Taamkru on a mission through EdTech startup.
Awarded as the most promising startup at Echelon 2014 in Singapore, Taamkru raised seed funding worth USD620,000 led by 500 Startups, which consisted of M&S Partners, IMJ Investment Partners, Ookbee, and Red Dot Ventures. At the first year of operation, there were 120,000 users active online, 5,000 users from Singapore and 10,000 from China. This proves a good start for the Thai-born EdTech company, while now they are expanding the market to Vietnamese parents and their preschoolers with the name “Taamkru Vietnam”.
Today, Taamkru is also planning to expand to other Southeast Asian countries by partnering with Thai e-book store Ookbee, which now has existing branches in Malaysia and the Philippines. Soon they said they would touch B2B sales by providing software to shools and publishing educational text books.
3. Chiiwi LIVE: A Real-Time Health Consultation App for Women
Chiiwii LIVE was co-founded by Dr. Piraya Thamrongthirakul and Dr. Yossawee Nirunvichaya who aim to provide real-time health education and consultation to women, especially those are in remote areas and have limited access to proper healthcare with four simple steps – choosing a doctor, setting the consultation time and means, await the appointment notification, and finally, begin the consultation.
It was made easy and convenient so women will have more confident to speak up on what they consider sensitive, such as sexual issues, dermatitis, cosmeceuticals and more. The two-way communication does not aim to replace hospital visit practices, but instead to facilitate screening for patients whose illness is not that severe and can receive normal first aid respectively. For the possible near future, a portal of specialist teams will be set to provide better services for customers in a more specialized way. This on-demand doctor service could potentially empower women in Thai society.
In line with Thailand 4.0, an ideal economic model set to tackle nation’s economic challenges – developing from agriculture (Thailand 1.0), light industry (Thailand 2.0), and advanced industry (Thailand 3.0) – Thai government lifts up the status of “3S” (Startup, SME and Social Entreprise) and aims to attract over USD1 billion in investments by 2020.
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