Education unicorn VIPKID has lesson for investors

The online learning platform has enjoyed success connecting Chinese learners to English teachers in the US. It's now looking to do the reverse.
Cindy Mi, founder and CEO of VIPKID (Photo provided by interviewee)
Cindy Mi, founder and CEO of VIPKID (Photo provided by interviewee)

When VIPKID made the world’s largest single-round fundraising in pre-secondary school education this summer, it inspired investors who foresaw growing demand for online education in China a sector worth Rmb156 billion $23.4 billion in 2016 and projected to reach Rmb270 billion in 2019.

Launched in 2014, online English-learning unicorn VIPKID has become China’s largest education-technology start-up, with more than 200,000 paying students and over 20,000 teachers in the US and Canada.

Among its backers are some of China’s best-known Midas-makers, Sinovation Ventures and Sequoia Capital China, for example, both of whom were early investors and have made consecutive investments in VIPKID’s later fundraising rounds. Its latest...

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