Korea’s Riiid raises $175M from SoftBank to broaden its AI-based studying platform to world markets – TechCrunch

“AI is eating the world of education,” Riiid co-founder and CEO YJ Jang notes in his biographical description on his LinkedIn profile. Today his startup — which builds AI-based personalised studying, together with take a look at prep, for college kids — is asserting a significant funding spherical to assist it place itself as a participant in that course of.

Seoul-based Riiid has closed a funding spherical of $175 million, an fairness spherical coming from a single backer, SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.

The funding is coming at a high-watermark second for edtech — with the shift to distant studying within the final 12 months of pandemic residing highlighting the chance to construct higher instruments to serve that market, and quite a few startups within the class subsequently elevating tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to deal with the chance. Riiid plans to make use of the funding each to broaden its footprint internationally, a properly as to broaden its merchandise.

Riiid isn’t disclosing its valuation, however this spherical is its largest but and brings the entire raised by the startup to $250 million, a major sum on the planet of edtech.

Riiid has primarily made a reputation for itself by way of Santa, a take a look at prep app geared towards individuals in non-English-language nations to follow and put together to take the TOEIC English language proficiency examination (typically a requirement to use to English-language universities for those who’re not a local English speaker), which has been utilized by greater than 2.5 million college students in Korea and Japan.

It has additionally been partnering with third events to broaden into take a look at prep for different exams. These have included the GMAT (in partnership with Kaplan) for Korean college students; an app, in partnership with ConnecME Education (an organization that tailors instructional providers particularly to cater to worldwide audiences) to assist individuals in Egypt, UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan prepare for the ACT; and a deal to construct AI-based instruments for college kids in Latin America to arrange for his or her faculty entrance exams. The ACT improvement comes after Riiid mentioned that the previous CEO of ACT, Marten Roorda, was becoming a member of its worldwide arm Riiid Labs as its “executive in residence,” so that would level to extra ACT prep purposes for different markets, too.

Beyond college entrance exams, Riiid has additionally been constructing apps for vocational schooling, with Santa Realtor for getting ready for actual property company exams, and a take a look at preparation software for insurance coverage agent exams, each in Korea.

The firm has been rising at a time when edtechs are seeing extra enterprise and an increase in general credibility and urgency to fill the hole left by the non permanent cessation of in-person studying. The additional component of bringing synthetic intelligence into the equation isn’t distinctive: A lot of corporations are bringing in advances in pc imaginative and prescient, pure language processing and machine studying to convey extra personalised experiences into what would possibly in any other case seem like a one-size-fits-all mannequin. What is notable right here is that Riiid has additionally been anchoring plenty of its R&D in IP. The firm says it has utilized for 103 home and worldwide patents, and has thus far had 27 of them issued.

“Riiid wants to transform education with AI, and achieve a true democratization of educational opportunities,” mentioned Riiid CEO YJ Jang in a press release. “This investment is only the beginning of our journey in creating a new industry ecosystem and we will carry out this mission with global partnerships.”

For SoftBank, this is likely one of the agency’s greater edtech investments — others have included Kahoot ($215 million), Unacademy in India and Descomplica in Brazil. Riiid mentioned that this spherical is SoftBank’s first particularly within the space of AI constructed for instructional purposes.

“Riiid is driving a paradigm shift in education, from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to personalized instruction. Powered by AI and machine learning, Riiid’s platform provides education companies, schools and students with personalized plans and tools to optimize learning potential,” mentioned Greg Moon, managing accomplice at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We are delighted to partner with YJ and the Riiid team to support their ambition of democratizing quality education around the world.”

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