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Thai edtech startup OpenDurian looking to make a meaningful difference for learners within Southeast Asia

Thai edtech startup OpenDurian belongs to a growing movement of digital education players looking to make a meaningful difference for learners within Southeast Asia in an industry which consultancy Frost and Sullivan has projected will see global revenues of more than $40.9 billion by 2022.

The company offers lessons via the internet for those hoping to improve their English, tapping snazzy animations and bright colors in videos to draw the eye and keep learning online interesting.

"Edtech, or any technology, will never be able to replace classroom teachers. It is more like new technology will help free teachers from some repetitive tasks," Chula Pittayapinan, OpenDurian's co-founder, told Nikkei Asia.

By eliminating some of the more mundane tasks, from rote delivery of lessons to the marking of test papers, Chula believes teachers can focus on more meaningful pursuits in education, such as personalized coaching and mentoring.

Besides English, OpenDurian covers subjects including mathematics and biology. Portions of its learning materials are available for free, but users of its platform need to pay a fee to utilize a fuller range of online education resources offered by the startup. 

 

Founded in 2013, the company attracted over 5 million Thai-speaking users last year, generating revenue of over $2.2 million. College students and first-time jobseekers formed its core customer base.

In exchange for a small stake in the company, Thai accelerator Stormbreaker Venture gave OpenDurian seed funding and mentorship opportunities to sharpen its business strategy and networks within the education sector.

Stormbreaker has grand plans to shake up the education space in Thailand. "We aim to change [ways of] learning for 1 million Thai learners by providing technology-enabled, innovative solutions to provide equal access to those who might otherwise not receive such education," Jantanarak Tuekaew, managing director at the accelerator, told Nikkei.

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