Marathon Education was created after its founders realized after-school education in Vietnam hadn’t evolved much since they were kids. Many students are taught at the same time in some of the largest tuition centers located in large cities. Pham Duc, co-founder of the center said that they are packed like sardines.
Six weeks ago, Pham and his brother-in law Tran Viet Tuung launched Marathon to increase access to after-school education in Vietnam. The startup today announced that it raised $1.5million in pre-seed financing led by Forge Ventures, a fund created by Alto Partners. Investors include Venturra Discovery (iSeed SEA) and Venturra Discovery.
Marathon focuses on science and math courses in grades 6-12 of Vietnam’s National Curriculum. It will soon cover all MOET subjects.
Pham worked as an investor for TPG Global before founding Marathon. Tran, meanwhile, is a serial entrepreneur who has previously founded travel platforms Triip.me, and Christina’s. They both grew up in Hanoi, and they spent a lot of their childhoods at after-school learning centres.
Pham says that half to seventy percent of students in K-12 attend after-school classes. However, the sector is fragmented. Many learning centers, which are located in large cities and run by ex-teachers from public schools, are managed by retired teachers.
Pham stated that accessibility is the main issue students are facing. Pham stated that if you are a student living in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City there is no guarantee you will get into top-tutored classes. Students from other regions often go to Tier 1 cities for major exams and stay in hostels for around a month, while taking prep courses.
Teachers must manage administrative tasks such as admissions, marketing and communications with parents. This cuts down on the time that they can spend creating their courses. They had to quickly switch to online learning platforms after the COVID-19 lockdowns began a few months back.
Marathon takes care of all administrative duties when teachers sign up. The company’s online platform allows them to reach students in more places, as well. Pham claims that teachers who move from an offline center to Marathon could see a two- to threefold increase in their income.
Marathon teachers must pass a rigorous screening procedure before they can join the team. This includes determining whether their students have passed previous exams and how well they are doing in school. They are paired with teachers assistants, who interact with students in small groups, answering their questions via instant messenger and managing breakout rooms for the detailed lessons.
Marathon was launched in Ho Chi Minh City, and the expansion strategy of Marathon will be adjusted to take into consideration cultural differences between north and south Vietnam. It will, for example, find tutors who speak regional languages and adapt its marketing strategies.
We will separate our focus on teachers and curriculum, as the two areas are very different. The south is more open to new ideas and parents are willing to experiment with them. Tran stated that parents in the north rely heavily on their networks and word-of mouth, which makes them more cautious about trying new services. So when we service the south and north, we also serve distinct sets of customers.”
Marathon intends to keep its online-only model going after lockdowns are over and children can return to regular school in person. We noticed a significant shift in the behavior of parents after one year in intermittent lockdowns. Online learning is much easier for them. Pham stated that even though the lockdown is in effect, current attendance rates of 99% are acceptable. Online is my future and I believe it’s more efficient. We want to build our strategy around this.
Publiated at Wed 25 August 2021, 03:24:24 +0000