ELSA, an AI-based English learning app supported by Vietnam Investment Group (VI Group), has secured $20 million in a new funding round. The round was led by UOB Venture Management, the private equity arm of Singapore’s UOB bank, DealStreetAsia reported.
This funding round follows ELSA’s successful Series B round two years ago when the company raised $15 million. That Series B round was co-led by VI Group and international investor SIG. Previous investors such as Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused venture fund), SOSV, and Monk’s Hill Ventures participated, along with new investors Endeavor Catalyst and Globant Ventures.
ELSA, which stands for “English Language Speech Assistant,” offers an app that helps users improve their pronunciation using speech recognition technology. The app collaborates with language schools in Vietnam, including IMAP and Speak Up, as well as the online learning platform YOLA. It also serves corporate clients such as Kimberly-Clark, Intel, and ATAD.
Based in San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, ELSA previously secured $7 million in a Series A round led by Gradient Ventures in 2019. In 2018, the company obtained pre-Series A funding of $3.2 million, led by Monk’s Hill Ventures, for talent acquisition and technology development.
UOB Venture Management manages assets exceeding 2 billion Singapore dollars ($1.5 billion) and invests through various funds. Notable investments include Halodoc, a healthcare technology platform, WuXi AppTec, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, Ruangguru, an Indonesian edtech company, and Wimi, a Chinese AR technology software provider.
In Vietnam, UOB Venture Management recently led a $33.5 million Series B funding round for healttech company Buymed. Subsequently, Buymed secured an $18 million equity investment from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.
Booming Vietnamese Startup Scene
Vietnamese edtech startups have been attracting substantial investor interest. VUIHOC recently raised $6 million in a funding round led by Southeast Asia-focused venture capital firm TNB Aura. The round also included participation from TKG Taekwang, IBK-STIC Pioneer fund, and existing investors such as Do Ventures, BAce Capital, and Vulpes
In May, Vietnamese edtech startup TEKY Alpha JSC secured $5 million in funding from Singapore-based impact investor Sweef Capital, marking the fund’s first investment from its Southeast Asia Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund.
Previously, Vietnamese edtech startup MindX raised $15 million in a Series B round led by education-focused private equity fund Kaizenvest. Other investors participating in the round included Thailand-based education company Aksorn, Japanese HR firm Mynavi, and existing investor Wavemaker Partners, which had led the startup’s Series A round.