Codemao's Key to The Coding Education Might Also Be The Limitation
COVID-19 and China
Participant of NOC•Codemao International Innovation Programming Invitational Tournament in Thailand. PHOTO: Credit to Codemao official website.

Accompanying the process of China's education industrialization, more and more startups and capitals entered this field, with the help of new technologies. After “Internet + Education” and “AI + Education”, venture capitals in China has also started to pay more attention to the “Coding Education”, a field could help to train talents for the digital world. Some of them believed, that Coding Education will be more important in the future.

With huge development of technologies, human civilization begins to enter the new era of Fourth Industrial Revolution from the Third Industrial Revolution. According to Wikipedia, The Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.

Facing such a future, “85 percent of jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet” estimated by Dell and the Institute for the Future (IFTF) in the report “Realizing 2030”. And McKinsey, the leading global management consulting firm, predicted that 800 million jobs could be replaced by robots by 2030. Coding itself could help human beings to cooperate with the robots, to control or at least understand it the much more digital world. Computer language also could be a necessity for jobs in the future.

Codemao leads the way in Coding Education in China

Shenzhen-based Codemao (编程猫), a Chinese online education platform, was founded by LI Tianchi (李天驰) and SUN Yue (孙悦) in 2015. The company focuses on teaching programming to school children, with its own image-based coding systems to better visualize the process.

Codemao’s business structure comprises “Online Course” to teach coding, “Creative Community” to encourage communication between users, “Campus/Education” to provide a systematic solution to teach coding, “Coding Game” to achieve the idea of edutainment.

The company provides a series of products and tools to serve its young customers from 3 years old to 16 years old. However the main target users of the company are children over 7 years old, with words cognitive ability, for instance, the online courses are only available for children over 7 years old.

According to information on Codemao’s Chinese website, the company has already served 2 million customers from China and other 11 countries, cooperated with over 3000 schools and education institutions.

So far, according to public information, EqualOcean estimates Codemao had raised over CNY 460 million in the last four years, valued at CNY 2 billion, which is the highest among 48 coding education startups in China, excluding hardware-driven coding education companies like robot company UBTECH, etc.

The key to one's success could also be one's limitation

Students are who use the education products, while the parents are the ones who actually pay. Parents’ choices of education products are still often affected by the teachers in schools and oriented towards exams and entering higher school. For coding education, middle schools and primary schools are where most target consumers of coding education could be touched. All these conditions determined that “to B”, mainly “to schools”, would be the best market strategy of most of the coding education companies, comparing “to C”.

In China, although the industrialization of education is being promoted, the biggest and most important part of the Chinese education system is still under the control of the state. Schools are institutional organizations, lack of marketization, thus private education institutions need to build good relationships and connections with the state-owned system, to win the opportunities to cooperate.

Codemao, according to its official website, so far had already cooperated with over 1000 middle and primary schools, this is definitely a leading position in the coding education field in China.

The education system connections and “in-system” backgrounds of Codemao might come with the company’s investors: Ziniu Caipital, two managing partners of which are Cheetahmobile (猎豹移动) CEO FU Sheng (傅盛), and former CCTV (中央电视台) journalist ZHANG Quanling (张泉灵); MOOC-CN Education, a wholly-owned subsidiary funded by Tsinghua Holdings Co., Ltd. (清华控股), which belongs to the state-owned Tsinghua University (清华大学). Other investors like The Beijing News, CMB International could also give a lot of help to better connect Codemao and the “in-system” units.

However, too much reliance on the school system is not necessarily a good thing. Firstly the company would be much affected by the state-owned education system, any negative policy might lead to disaster caus most of its business relies on the system. Secondly, the protection from the cooperation with schools may let the company's guard down, and maybe neglect the real consumer demands from the market.

Fortunately, Codemao did not forget to acquire consumers by itself directly from the market. On the Double 11 Festival of 2018, Codemao claimed to sell over CNY 10 million in this day.

- Author: ZHANG Fan; Write to ZHANG Fan at

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