- Geniebook is a learning platform that personalizes each student’s education using machine learning.
- It raised $16.6 million in Series A funding led by East Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
- Geniebook was founded by Neo Zhizhong and Alicia Cheong and is based in Singapore.
- Geniebook will use the new capital to hire for senior positions, expand its product development team, and expand its market.
Geniebook is a Singapore-based learning platform that personalizes each student’s education using a blend of machine learning and human teachers. The company announced today that it has raised $16.6 million in Series A funding led by East Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with angel investors including John Danner, founder of Dunce Capital; Gaurav Munjal and Roman Saini, founders of Indian edtech unicorn Unacademy; Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal; and senior executives from Grab, Shopee, and Gojek participating.
Geniebook’s creators claim that the company is profitable and that revenue has increased by over 2,000 percent since the start of 2019. It now has a total of 15 users. The majority of Geniebook’s students are from Singapore and Vietnam, and the company intends to utilize some of its funds to expand in those areas before expanding into other Southeast Asian countries. The Series A round raises the startup’s total funding to over $18 million. Geniebook’s most recent round of funding came in the form of a $1.1 million pre-Series A round from Apricot Capital in 2019.
For primary and secondary school children, Geniebook offers English, maths, and science courses based on Singapore’s national curriculum. GenieSmart or AI-based practice sheets customized for students; GenieClass, live online classrooms that can accommodate up to 900 students at a time; and GenieAsk, where an instructor and teaching assistant are assigned to groups of 50 students for class discussions and assistance.
Neo Zhizhong and Alicia Cheong, who met while in university, co-founded the company. Cheong taught arithmetic and Neo taught science, and the two frequently referred students to one another. They eventually decided to open a physical tutoring center, which immediately became profitable. While working out how to grow the center, the two began incorporating technology into classes before deciding to go completely online in 2017. “We understood that technology has the potential to transform the way teachers educate and kids learn,” Neo explained.
Despite the fact that Geniebook was launched well before the pandemic, Neo believes COVID-19 raised awareness among parents and students. “Southeast Asia is a $60 billion market for private education, and the market for online education has suddenly become a $60 billion market.” He noted that when students were accustomed to live-streaming lessons, they began to anticipate more personalized and engaging content.
Instead of using generic worksheets, GenieSmart customizes each student’s homework by using a neural network to select questions based on their strengths and weaknesses, ensuring that they do not have to answer questions about ideas they are already familiar with. Another strategy to keep students interested is to create communities led by teacher/teaching assistant pairs. One of the ways Geniebooks differs from other learning platforms like KooBits and Superstar Teacher, according to Neo, is its personalization options.
“One of the challenges any educator needs to answer is ‘how do we build an atmosphere that engages a community of learners by themselves,’ so educators don’t have to keep pestering learners because kids will just say ‘please don’t talk to me anymore,'” Neo added.
Students are encouraged to collaborate in Geniebook communities, with professors and teaching assistants providing learning content, assistance, and corrections. Students are also given points for completing worksheets or successfully answering questions, which may be exchanged for Roblox’s virtual currency or Apple App Store credits (though some save them up to get holiday presents for their parents).
Each teacher is responsible for many groups of students. Geniebook will incorporate an AI chat option to answer simple and frequently-asked inquiries as the platform grows. Geniebook will use the new capital to hire for senior positions, expand its product development team, and expand its market.
“The Southeast Asia region comprises multiple nations with exam-driven cultures where Geniebook’s worksheets and cohort-based live learning method gives a premium experience with a measurable increase in student performance,” said Lightspeed partner Dev Khare in a statement about the investment.