Online Children’s Coding Platform Codemao Raises CNY 250 Million, Eyes Adult Market
COVID-19 and China
A paper man is smiling after learning the first python code. Image credit: Kobu Agency/Unsplash

Codemao (编程猫), the coding tutoring platform designed for children, today raised a C+ funding round of CNY 250 million, making a total fundraising amount of CNY 1.25 billion. The investment is led by CMB International, with participation from Bank of China Group Investment, Yueke Xintai Capital(粤科鑫泰资本), Sharewin Capital (盛宇投资) and other current shareholders.

The Shenzhen-based startup owns a sophisticated product development system, providing a service integrating online tools, curricular content and tutoring. This fundraising was completed within less than six months from its last Series C round of CNY 400 million, a deal disclosed on November 4, 2019. 

This online coding platform aiming for the children’s market first came into public view with a valuation of CNY 2 billion in January 2019, after an estimated total bankrolling of CNY 460 million in the previous four fundraisings. At that time, Codemao had already served 2 million customers, inbound and outbound, in cooperation with over 3,000 schools and education institutions.

Earlier in the mid-May of 2019, the CEO and founder Li Tianchi (李天驰) was interviewed by EqualOcean during the ‘GIS2019 China Education Industry Innovation Summit.’ The valuation of his company almost tripled to about USD 1 billion at that time, a rapid development driven by steady quarter-on-quarter 200% growth rate with an annual income of CNY 120 million, as detailed by Mr. Li.

This five-year-old online learning hub has evolved into a solid coding resource for over 31.47 million kids from 21 countries and regions. It has successfully won the favor and trust of young learners and parents through its Apple/Google-generic research team, sophisticated curricular system and eye-catching cooperation with tier-one Chinese universities.

More importantly, the official endorsement backed by the Ministry of Education paves the way to the unicorn in China’s tremendous K12 education market. The ‘Industry-University’ Cooperation project launched last year aims to escalate the advanced education quality through strengthening the cooperation between the academic field and practical business. Codemao’s being listed is also a milestone that marks part of the journey to serve more adult students in colleges beyond the K12 market.

At the end of 2019, just a few days before the breakout of COVID-19, the CEO of Codemao announced the opening of a school to provide professional training for offline partners with programming teaching and potential business scenarios. This plan could have been a promising start for the 2019-2022 ‘One Hundred Cities, One Thousand Stores’ project, a warm-up for the in-discussion IPO initiative. However, the unexpected pandemic disturbed the offline process and pushed the team to seek a new way out. 

Online education has been the object of intense focus during the last few months, partly due to the mandatory social distancing. Mature coding education, a natural  product  of the spread of the Internet, is exciting investors once again, with a buzz reminiscent of the 2015 investment craze of billions US dollars.

The year 2018 witnessed a total investment of CNY 6.33 billion (USD 931 million) in K12 education, growing at a CAGR 50.12% from 2016. Following the Ministry of Education policy on promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) in 2015, the startup players and educational giants have been accelerating their product development and market deployment. AllDream (奥蒙编程), CodePKU (编学编玩) and Codemao, together with creative education represented by RoboRobo (乐博乐博机器人), have been trying to take a position in some educational niche segments that contain less threat from giants such as TAL Edu (TAL:NYSE) and New Oriental (EDU:NYSE).

Editor: Luke Sheehan

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