E-learning platform 17smile wins more than 10 million RMB in Series A+ by serving teachers not schools

As long as the teacher has a WeChat account, a ‘class’ can be registered and announcement can be made.

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E-learning platform 17smile wins more than 10 million RMB in Series A+ by serving teachers not schools

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E-learning platform 17smile has completed their fourth financing of more than 10 million RMB with personal radio station platform Ximalaya FM as lead investor and Zhi Zhuo Capital and GSR Ventures as co-investor. Funds will be used for area expansion and product development.

17smile (园丁) develops education software solutions and became popular on WeChat’s mini programme where students are able to check their results with just a click, receive customized worksheets and exam questions. Students are also able to obtain first-hand notification, announcements and student reports from the school. 17 smile has helped teachers in first-tier cities to facilitate their daily tasks and communication with their students.

Essentially, 17smile is a communication tool between teachers and parents. Founder Wang Xu pointed out that parents can be very anxious about their children’s school performance and they demand a two-way relationship with the school teachers. For example, parents not only want to know their children grades but also their ranking, what went wrong and how can they help their children to improve. However, teachers are not able to handle a class of parents at once.

17smile takes over the mundane routine of teachers by digitizing students’ data and provide customized reports. For example, teachers can now upload photos of the test papers and the overall transcripts, and 17smile will assist by analyzing their child’s reports and inform parents about their children’s performance.

The company seems to offer a similar service to what is available in the market. However, 17 smile understands that students’ information is largely controlled by the Education Bureau and the school principal. It is difficult and time-consuming to obtain private information. 17smile resolve this issue by serving the teachers and not the school. As long as the teacher has a WeChat account, a ‘class’ can be registered and announcement can be published within the class. With just a scan of a QR code, parents are able to receive notifications from teachers.

Serving teachers also circumvent the risk of ineffectiveness. For example, in order to analyze the results, a teacher needs to scan individual test papers, piece by piece. Not only did it not reduce a teacher’s workload, students also receive papers with no correction.

17smile solves real problems faced by teachers by sending notifications, homework, and performance statistics to parents.

Wang revealed that their number of users have exceeded one million. Among which, 45% are daily active users, and monthly retention rate is 90%.

17smile will be exploring three areas:

  • Every day, 17smile accumulates more than 500,000 academic data. This data can be used to create an informative social platform for students where they can find question banks that are customized according to their academic needs. Most students are learning passively and will not purchase teaching and training products. Parents are the ones who encourage leaning learning. They have the purchasing power and willingness to pay for such products.
  • When there are enough users on the platform, 17smile will launch their very own platform for parents to ask questions. Parents will have various types of education challenges such as choosing a suitable school for their children, how to plan their children’s education path and the pros and cons of arts and science streams. 17smiles will leverage on the teachers on the platform to address parents’ queries.
  • Many teachers have their own WeChat public account to create their personal branding and leverage on WeChat’s heavy traffic. With Himalaya as lead investor, 17smile will be sharing resources with them and become a social media platform for education.

KrASIA’s parent company 36Kr learned that 17smile has acquired of physical education platform “Sports Class” in July this year. The platform includes teaching videos and physical tests for students. It can help physical education teachers to track and manage the students’ sports performance, and cultivate students’ habits of developing extracurricular physical exercise.

Wang told 36Kr that by integrating these services, the school helps primary and middle school students across the country with both their academic studies and fitness. In the future, this service will be extended to primary and secondary school students’ to ensure that schools implement a more holistic approach to education.