Thailand 2014 Echelon winner Taamkru has received a seed investment of $620,000 USD from 500 Startups, M&S Partners, IMJ Investment Partners, Ookbee, and Red Dot Ventures. This is the first lead investment for the Silicon Valley based 500 Startups in South East Asia.
Taamkru is a useful tool for new generation of parents as it helps them to monitor and assess their children’s learning progress while also tracking their performance against peers. The company provides learning games and assessements that are more engaging and interactive than the common black and white workbooks. With their educational app, Taamkru is currently gaining considerable traction within South East Asia with over 100,000 downloads in less than six months. The app has previously held number one positions in the Thailand and Singapore iOS store for both Kids & Education categories.
Taamkru recently appointed Founders Institute Thailand co-director Mr. Krating Poonpol to the Board of Advisors, Mr. Poonpol has previously led product development and launch initiatives as a former executive of Google headquarters in California and DTAC in Thailand.
Koichi Saito of IMJ Investment Partners said that he invested because of the great team and the excellent early traction. Particularly the investment of Ookbee should help Taamkru to jump over early hurdles, as Ookbee’s experience in platform business can be leveraged. At the moment Taamkru is monetizing mainly through advertisement and some in-app purchases, such as real time tracking reports. However it plans to allows publishers to sell their learning materials through their in-app store, a similarity they share with Ookbee, which has already developed strong partnership with publishers across the region. Koichi also observed that traditional Japanese education publishing companies are shifting towards the digital space and are looking at the Asian market, which he sees as an opportunity for potential partnerships or even potential buyers.
Given that Thailand has currently one of the worst education systems in South East Asia, despite major funding, the application might help to close the gap in the long run. Part of helping the kingdom to improve it’s education efforts is TKAT. The Taamkru Kindergarten Application Test (TKAT) will be organized by Taamkru for the third time. In less than one year this tri-annual competition has already received 20,000 applicants consisting of pre-school aged participants and their accompanying parents from Thailand and China. Winners of this off-line competition will receive trophies awarded by His Royal Highness Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti of Thailand, while the school of the winning child will receive an honor plaque from the Thai Ministry of Education. Children with the highest scores as indicated on the mobile app will also be invited to join the final competition on-site in Bangkok to compete against other children as the TKAT contest determines the most gifted preschooler 2014.
Interestingly, and probably something for Thai policy makers to think about, is Taamkru’s shift to Singapore. Like so many Startup’s the company will move it’s legal entity out of the kingdom into the city state, because of the ease of business and future investment opportunities.