Xu Kexin, co-founder of Jiliguala, delivers a speech at a forum in November in Beijing. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
China's early-years English language learning market will see "considerable" growth, both online and offline, as the younger generation of parents favor educational products that are high-quality and ability-oriented, according to an industry insider.
"The market will reach tens of billions of yuan, pushed by the new generation of parents, who are aged between 27 and 35," said Xu Kexin, co-founder of Jiliguala, a Shanghai-based online education startup founded in 2014.
The online early-stage English tutoring market has more value because it will offer opportunities to many children in third-and fourth-tier cities, where such education is weak
Zhao Penglan, Vice-president, Bertelsmann Asia Investments
These young parents, with their children just entering kindergarten, are conscious about the benefits of English learning at a young age, she said.
"Usually, the family structure of this generation is '4+2+1' (the grandparents, the couple and their child). All the resources will lean toward the only child in the family," Xu noted.
According to a joint report by online news portal jiemian.com and Jiliguala, 76 percent of the parents surveyed have their children start learning English by their fifth birthday.
Parents are willing to pay an average of 2,750 yuan (US$407) a year for their kids to learn English at an early age. Among them, 27 percent are willing to pay as much as 5,000 yuan, the report reads.
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With 1.5 million paid users on Jiliguala's online English tutoring platform, Xu found that the user group is diversified, with kids from both public and international schools.
"This determines that the early-years English education market has lots of room for growth, as it is for kids to acquire the language rather than for exams or grade," said Xu.
To tap into this demand, Jiliguala is leveraging cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence and big data, to help kids of 8 years old and younger to learn English online.
The company has invested significantly in designing characters covered by intellectual property laws. These IP assets have "moods" and their stories, which appeal to children, helping them to learn about the world.
"A good early-stage educational product, from our perspective, should be interesting for kids and effective for parents," she said.
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To date, the startup has achieved considerable profit, with its revenue increasing 300 percent in the past two years, according to Jiliguala.
Zhao Penglan, vice-president of Bertelsmann Asia Investments, an international investment firm with a fund of over $3 billion, said that BAI is optimistic about the earning ability of Jiliguala.
"The online early-stage English tutoring market has more value because it will offer opportunities to many children in third-and fourth-tier cities, where such education is weak," Zhao added.
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