Malaysia AOne banks MYR 2 Million in seed round amidst COVID-19
Amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysian edutech company AOne has secured RM2 million in seed funding from Wavemaker Partners, a Southeast Asia’s leading early-stage venture capital firm.
The seed round was led by Wavemaker Partners, Southeast Asia’s go-to early-stage VC for enterprise and deep tech. Earlier in April 2020, AOne had also received funding from ScaleUp Ventures Malaysia, as one of the top 10 companies for regional growth in ScaleUp Accelerator programme, as well as an MYR 300,000 grant from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, a government agency that helps promising tech startups in Malaysia grow and commercialize their businesses.
AOne is an edutech solution that brings together a B2C marketplace and B2B backend management software for all kinds of local enrichment lessons across Southeast Asia. Its key product, AOneSchools, helps enrichment centres like tuition schools, kindergartens, enrichment academies etc. manage their administrative workflow. On top of the B2B service, AOne is also providing a B2C online marketplace for local classes, a platform that connects students with education providers near them powered by AOne’s vision: “Anyone can teach, everyone can learn”.
B2B SaaS for educators
Founded in 2015, AOne started as an online marketplace for local classes. As its client base expanded, the company learned about the struggles of education centre owners with managing their operational workflow. Determined to help, the team, led by founder Dr. Darren Gouk, developed and launched AOneSchools in 2018 – a management software that facilitates student enrollment, class scheduling, and fee tracking for educators.
Currently, AOne serves 800+ enrichment centres, managing over 50,000 lessons and more than 100,000 learners and educators across multiple cities, with the majority of them located in Malaysia and Singapore. In the next 12 to15 months, the company plans to use the funds to drive market expansion across Southeast Asia, as well as enhance its current product offerings in education sector.
Everyone can learn with AOne
Despite the precarious economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AOne was still able to gain the confidence of investors. Amidst a nationwide lockdown, the company still displayed sustainable growth, boosted by the Malaysian government’s initiative in promoting operational digitalisation for the country’s small and medium enterprises.
Gifted-Child Group, a pre-kinder and kindy centre in Kuching, Sarawak has digitalised their operations using AOne’s software during the lockdown. Group director Jenny Jee said that she has received positive feedback about the software from both admin staff and parents, especially regarding the e-payment feature, where parents are able to make fee payment (pay for school fees) from the comfort of their homes. “In the past, parents needed to be physically present at our centres for them to make payment and for us to issue their paper receipt. Now, they can make payments via the mobile app and immediately receive an e-receipt,” Jee said.
To ensure the safety of students and gymnasts during this period, Wan Dina Norazin, founder of Kickstart Gymnastics in Kuala Lumpur, subscribed to AOne’s mobile app for lesson booking purposes. Parents can request for replacement sessions and pre-book their preferred time slots, without running the risk of exceeding the maximum pax-limit decreed by the standard operating procedure outlined by the Malaysian Government.
“Darren, who has the experience in running three mathematics centres, has built AOne with a firm understanding of what education centres, parents and their children need,” said Gavin Lee, General Partner of Wavemaker Partners. “This is powerfully reflected in the fact that AOne is a dual-sided solution that not only reduces manual work in education centres, but also allows parents themselves to manage their children’s schedules and payments. They’ve grown despite the pandemic and have happy clients in Singapore such as The Collective Knowledge, Frankel Tutors, My Chinese Steps etc. We are excited to be part of AOne’s unique journey in B2B SaaS edutech and make education more manageable and discoverable for all.”
Current investor, ScaleUp Malaysia’s Senior Partner, Dr V. Sivapalan also shared Lee’s sentiment: “We are very proud of Darren and the team at AOne. They have shown tenacity and resourcefulness during this challenging period and have emerged stronger by driving more value to their customers and users. With this fresh round of funding, we are confident that the team will be able to make significant strides in the education sector in Malaysia and beyond.”
AOne’s vision is to create a super-app in education, starting from a B2C lesson marketplace, a B2B backend management system, and an automated payment solution for educators all across Southeast Asia. With investment in hand, the company is poised to disrupt the education industry within the region.