Top 10 Korean EdTech Startups Transforming Education – Best of 2019

Korea is passionate about education, mainly English education, as it is a required subject for all University entrance as well as employment.  With the advancement of technology, the EdTech sector has grown rapidly in Korea. There are many Korean EdTech startups that are creating new ways of educating.  In 5-10 years it is quite possible that Korean schools and Universities will no longer use textbooks but rather online platforms.  The young generation in Korea becoming experts at using their smartphones to find the right answers and learn.  There are now digital classrooms and online courses for students to learn anytime and anywhere.

Technology might not replace teachers anytime soon.  However, many Korean EdTech startups are now offering a range of tools to enhance education for students.  Therefore they are allowing students to have more avenues for learning.  Furthermore, enterprises across the world are providing employees with online platforms to improve their skills.  Korean EdTech startups are working hard to create innovative products and services that can hopefully transform the future of education.

Here are the top 10 EdTech Startups in Korea to watch for in 2019

1. SmartStudy

Korean EdTech Startup SmartStudyKorean EdTech Startup SmartStudy is the creator of the global kid’s educational hit Pinkfong.  They have become so successful not only in South Korea but also in the United States that they are looking to go public in 2020.  Since 2010, they have produced videos that featured characters in different languages.  Furthermore, these educational videos are available through their mobile apps or they can be watched on YouTube.  Their hit song “Baby Shark” alone has over 3.1 billion views on Youtube.   In addition, their sales reached over $23 million in 2018 and are expected to surpass $33 million in 2019.

SmartStudy’s plan for 2019 is to become the Pixar of South Korea.  They plan to launch an animated TV series based on their PinkFong characters.  Furthermore, they are also in works to produce a live musical tour of “Baby Shark” in 2019 with a movie version of “Baby Shark” in 2020.

2.  Riiid

Korean EdTech Startup RiiidKorean EdTech Startup Riid is an AI tutoring platform that uses machine learning technology.  Instead of workbooks and teachers, Riiid has an AI tutor.  Therefore it can provide each student with a private AI tutor.  Furthermore, Riiid is continuing to develop its AI technology as a B2B solution called “santA.Inside”.  In addition, Riiid was the first Korean startup to present a research paper on AI technology at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), the world’s top AI conference.  They currently hold over 40 registered patents and patent applications.

Riiid raised over $15 million in Series C funding ($18 million to date).  They will use the funds for R&D and improve sentA.Inside.  The goal is for companies to create their own AI educational service brand through sentA.Inside.  One of the main products Riiid developed has been Santa TOEIC.  It has over 1 million members.

3.  Fast Campus

Korean EdTech Startup Fast CampusKorean Educational Startup Fast Campus provides close to 2,000 module-customized one-on-one lessons.  These lessons are with native-speaking instructors that have more than five years of lecturing experience.  They focus mainly on practical business lessons and higher education services targeting Korean adults.  Some of their classes include data science, marketing, programming, finance, and foreign language.  They have also launched “Coloso” which will cover classes in regards to hairdressing, cooking, cartoon drawing, and fashion design.

Fast Campus was able to secure an $8.3 million for their series B round.  The money will help in their plans for their spin-off subsidiary Fast Campus Language which will focus on their Chinese home-study materials.  They will also expand to Jongno to go along with their centers in Gangnam and Yeoksam.  The reason for Fast Campus’s success has to do with their focus on enhancing foreign language communication skills rather than raising foreign language scores.

4.  Knowre

Korean EdTech Startup KnowreKorean Education startup Knowre offers a math educational platform for grades 1 to 11.  The startup was acquired by Daekyo who hopes Knowre can become the DreamBox Learning of Korea.  How the Knowre platform works is that when a student gets a problem wrong the program will go step by step through the different operational steps to fix the program.  Furthermore, their math education software offers game-like features for pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Algebra II.  With the help of Daekyo they were able to create the Summit Math program in 2015 for students at Daekyo’s learning centers.

Knowre broke into the US market back in 2014.  Now Knowre licenses their software to other educational service providers.  Therefore, they have partnered with many tutoring centers across the United States.  Knowre also licensed its technology to EBS, Korea’s top educational broadcasting media group.  The key feature of Knowre is the software’s algorithm which creates a personalized curriculum for each student based on their strengths and weaknesses.  In addition, they have raised over $7 million in funding and is looking to expand into the Chinese market in 2019.

5.  Classting

Korean EdTech Startup ClasstingKorean Education Technology Startup Classting uses AI deep learning technology and big data to create an education social community platform.  Therefore their app allows for easy communication between students, parents, and teachers.  The platform supports study management, effective communication, and personalized service that offers tailored information and functions.  The Classting app is now a common app in the public education sector in Korea.  They currently have over 4.5 million users in over 15,000 schools and educational institutions worldwide.

Classting has partnered with UCLA, Boston College, and the University of Washington on using AI and big data for better-personalized education for students.  They have already raised over $5.5 million dollars and is looking to expand into other Asian markets such as Taiwan in 2019.  Furthermore, the Classting app supports 12 different languages and will look add SEA countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.  They will focus on the Asian market before moving on to the United States and the European market.

6.  Jaranda

Korean EdTech Startup JarandaKorean EdTech Startup Jaranda is a platform offers one-on-one private teaching for children in Korea.  Jaranda uses data analysis to make sure they have the highest quality instructors on their platform.  In addition, they have over 17,000 after school instructors called “Jaranda Planners” who teach kids ranging from 4 to 13 years old.  Customers arrange a time for the instructor to come to their home for private one-to-one teaching.

Just under 80% of their customers are repeat customers.  They were able to get $750,000 in funding from Kakao Ventures and 500 Startups putting their total funding to $2.5 million for their series A round.

7.  BeNative

Korean EdTech Startup BeNativeKorean EdTech startup BeNative is a language education platform operated by SMATOOS, Inc.  Their BeNative app is free to download on both the App Store and Goolge Play and it allows users to gain access to their collection of quizzes, study materials, and video lessons.  Users can upgrade to the BeNative Pro (Korea, China) or the BeNative Premium (Japan) service which offers users business English courses.  Their focus is on using correct expressions and terms that real entrepreneurs use on a day to day basis.

SMATOOS is also the creator of CashEnglish which is a rewards-based gaming and learning platform.  Users can play games while they learn and win cash prizes every week.

8.  Lighthouse

Korean EdTech Startup LighthouseKorean Education startup Lighthouse offers a program to help nurture entrepreneurship skills for students in Korea.  Lighthouse is run by Lighting Up Ventures.  It is a bilingual entrepreneurship training program that was inspired by top Universities like MIT.  Their program is known for its hands-on approach to learning.  Students will learn how to set up websites from the moment they join the program.  While the program is held online, they hold off-line sessions in coworking spaces in Seoul like WeWork.  Therefore, students will not only learn how to build their own website, but also how to build a product, sell it, and recruit people to organize a team.

Lighthouse aims to create an entrepreneurship program that will disrupt the Korean startup ecosystem.  Their program focuses on teamwork and the ability to collaborate with other entrepreneurs across a wide range of disciplines.  Therefore for 2019, Lighthouse looks to partner with universities and institutions that are seeking to train a larger number of students or early-stage entrepreneurs.  They have previously worked with Chungbuk Center for Creative Economy and Innovation, Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development and Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation.

9.  Inflearn

Korean EdTech Startup InflearnKorean EdTech startup Inflearn is a platform that provides educational content through their online courses in design, programming, AI, and big data.  The startup was launched in 2016 and has already gotten over 190,000 users.  Their focus for 2019 will be on improving user experience and create stronger personalized course recommendations for their students.  Most of their content is in Korean and many consider Inflearn as the Udemy of Korea.  Their platform consists of industry experts that do a great job of sharing their knowledge in their sector.

10.  Dico

Korean EdTech Startup DicoKorean Education Technology Startup Dico is a Korean language service provider for Spanish speakers.  They are focused on expanding into Latin America and target users interested in learning Korean.  They offer Korean-language materials using K-drama or other K-pop related video content from SBS.  Thanks to their partnership with SBS, they have over 1,000 videos on their platform.  Their focus for 2019 will be to get funding from Latin American investors.  Their R&D center will still be in Korea but the learning and testing will be done in the Latin American environment.