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May 26, 2020

Manabie: A Startup In Pole Position To Disrupt SEA’s Legacy Education Industry

Takuya Honna and Christy Wong, Manabie founders, talk about the Manabie formula, teacher empowerment and bringing his high-tech version of Total Education to

Manabie: A Startup In Pole Position To Disrupt SEA’s Legacy Education Industry

Bài viết này có ngôn ngữ: Tiếng Việt

Among the prevalent education models, Total Education stands out for its holistic view of the child. Aiming to produce emotionally stable, self-reliant, moral and well-integrated individuals, the system helps students to realize their potential on all levels: physical, intellectual and spiritual. Manabie, a pioneering online learning startup, deploys artificial intelligence and machine learning to achieve that.

Established in Singapore by Takuya Homma and Christy Wong, Manabie launched the online education platform service in Vietnam in January 2020, just as demand for remote learning soared amid the covid-related lockdown and school closures. Having raised $4.8M in its initial year, the company is stepping up its business in Vietnam and mulls further expansion in Southeast Asia. 

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Manabie sees Vietnam as the promised land for edutech companies. From high adoption of technology to the premium Vietnamese families place on education (about 20 percent of household income is allocated to it), Vietnam, in Manabie founders’ eyes, was ready for the startup’s high-tech version of Total Education.

Takuya, who prior to founding Manabie was one of the founders of British online learning service startup Quipper, is no stranger to the edutech sector. After Quipper was acquired by Recruit for $40M, Homma was leading Quipper Indonesia's expansion as Country Manager, growing the team to over 500 members, and helping to shape the country's education system.

Hong-Kong-born and New-York-raised Christy was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and held senior positions at Hong Kong’s leading investment and consulting firms before joining the founding team of Lazada in 2012. The largest e-commerce operator in Southeast Asia, in 2016 Lazada’s controlling stake was bought by Alibaba Group. Prior to co-founding Manabie, Christy was with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helping launch a development fund in Indonesia.

In this interview, Takuya and Christy explain how Manabie’s student-centric approach sets it apart from the competition and talks about the Manabie formula that champions teacher empowerment.

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Manabie has been in the edtech scene for nearly two years now. What makes 2020 different?

Since Manabie’s inception in 2019, the company has been focusing on building high quality educational content and leveraging latest technologies to support learners in Vietnam both online and offline. In 2020, we are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for our omnichannel solutions.

What's the vision for this blended experience and how does it add to the existing online ecosystem?

We live in a fast-changing world that is increasingly complex. Automation and technology are bound to change the way we work in future. Yet, research has indicated that the current educational system, especially in developing countries, is not positioned to equip the young with skills that are needed to thrive in the future. 

 Indeed, the lack of quality in education is such that even at present employers find it hard to recruit sufficient numbers of people with the skills they need. To catalyze positive change for our learners, it is imperative that we transform the current version of mass-producing assembly line schooling to a future of personalized learning where each learner is enabled to realize their full potential.

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There are a number of companies tackling this economic niche that’s opening up. What unique selling points does Manabie have over some of them?

Manabie offers a tech-enabled hybrid learning infrastructure with engaging content, experienced coaches, an enriching environment, and a strong community. We provide Total Education to each learner, structured in the way that suits them best. 

Personalized digital content

Manabie’s digital content, consisting of videos, study guides and quizzes, is designed to engage learners and retain their attention by linking school curriculum with real life examples. Our online learning tools deploy Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to personalize the experience of each learner. 

Experienced coaches and skilled tutors

All that we do at Manabie is learner-centric and Total Education is best offered by blending AI enabled recommendations with a community of highly trained coaches and tutors that engage with students in one-on-one sessions to develop a personalized learning plan. 

Enriching environment

It is our conviction that a hybrid online-offline learning environment is what enables our learners to acquire higher order socio-behavioral skills alongside excelling in academics. Manbie is building a network of Hubs, our custom-built spaces designed to provide learners with a first-tier learning environment in their neighborhood. Hubs improve learner retention and engagement with coaches and the content.


The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” embodies our belief at Manabie. We are developing digital tools and platforms that will bring together the schools, teachers, and parents to work hand-in-hand towards ensuring each learner receives Total Education in the way that works best for them.

Manabie Formula

Creating positive outcomes for our learners and the community is central to our business success. Learner Happiness and community buy-in are the levers that will spin the flywheel of Manabie’s growth and offer defensibility as we scale to offer Total Education to all in an accessible and affordable manner.  

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With your latest financing, what other products in the pipeline can we expect from your team? 

We have launched our Prime+ and School+ offerings. Prime+ is a comprehensive online learning solution designed to help support students especially during this coronavirus period. Students will have access to weekly lectures focused on preparing them for the end-of-year exams and study sessions where they can clear their doubts with our tutors.  

School+ is our b2b solution designed to support schools in the transition to online learning. We provide a full consultancy service to recommend best practices for conducting engaging and effective online lessons. We also have tools such as a learning management system from our Manabie Teacher app that enable teachers to upload, assign and grade assignments for their students. 

Beyond 2020, what else can we expect from Manabie?

Manabie Teacher Empowerment Program is transforming education. The workforce is an education system’s biggest investment and one of its greatest levers for change. We believe the key to delivering quality education is through enabling teachers and providing them with the necessary tools to focus on what’s most important -- the learner.

Bài viết này có ngôn ngữ: Tiếng Việt