Zuoyebang, which loosely translates to “Homework Help” is a Chinese ed-tech startup founded by Hou Jianbin. It is a sub-organization of Baidu, the Chinese Search Engine. The firm provides educational products and services to K-12 students, primarily students from kindergarten to high school.
Zuoyebang -About The Company
Founded in 2014, Zuoyebang is based out of Beijing and is widely popular and heavily backed by Baidu as well as several other national and international companies. The firm began as a Homework help platform for students, hence the name. It still has its free photo search platform that allows students to look for homework solutions and help by searching using pictures. This AI-powered photo search platform is the foundation of the company in a lot of ways.
The Business Model
The firm’s photo search option for homework assistance is based on AI technology and remains free to this day. This has attracted a lot of scholars onto the platform, helping to build a vast user base. In an industry with a high Customer Acquisition Cost(CAC), having this influx of free users make the jobs of the company much easier.
Their live streaming classes are connected to their free platform. The firm continues to invest in the search tool to create a better experience for users while simultaneously expanding their reach on how much of the curriculum is covered with the right depth and complexity to attract the students. The transition from free user to paid user is made possible by the seamless integration between the two sides, providing good quality and robust content and class experience, and is boosted by the demand for such services across China.
The Market Scope
Zuobeyang today has more than 170 million monthly active users and a total of 20 million transacting users. EdTech has a current penetration rate of 10% in China, which is expected to reach 30% in 5 years, creating a lucrative market space for the firm.
With their free search tool, the company can easily penetrate this market of users. With more and more students choosing to study online, such a platform for live classes leads the charge as the most likely candidate to be chosen by these students.
Zuoyebang is also aware of the importance of well rounded holistic education. Areas like logical thinking, programming, art and other extracurricular subjects are also necessary for students to maintain a healthy balance of fun and serious studies. This is the next step in the natural progression of education, and the company aims to make this shift soon.
Zuobeyang benefits from having giant players for backers, raking in $2.9 Billion across 6 investment rounds. They are backed by behemoths in the tech and VC space, like Alibaba Group, Sequoia Capital, Xianghe Capital, Tiger Global and SoftBank. Their most recent Series E funding round alone attracted $1.6 billion in investments, making it the largest round for the company to date.
With the future of online education becoming brighter, a platform like Zuobeyang is in the perfect spot to capture the Chinese market. By utilizing their free tool to attract users and paid live classes to generate income, they can attract more scholars to create an educational space that operates for the largest population in any country, effectively helping to mould the next generation.