The tech boom in Southeast Asia isn’t just sowing a wave of new entrepreneurs building the next generation of unicorns, it is also bringing young talent into the roles of new managers. And NewCampus, a Singapore-based startup co-founded by Will Fan and Fei Yao, announced today that it has raised millions of dollars to help emerging businesses train their mature workforce for them. help evolve into these new and more important roles.
NewCampus is an online and live learning platform that hopes to train emerging managers in hyper-growing organizations. These are leadership “sprints” that focus on topics such as knowledge retention and creating a safe environment for teams. The company was part of SuperCharger Ventures’ first edtech accelerator and today announced that it has attracted millions of dollars in investor interest.
The startup closed a $ 2.5 million funding round in a round led by Maia Sharpley of Juvo Ventures. Other investors include Zanichelli Venture, M Venture Partners, 27V, Pavan Katepalli, the former director of learning at Trilogy Education, as well as existing investors SOSV and 500 startups.
While first describing itself as a membership gym for learning experiences, the startup founded in 2019 has raised capital to invest more in its latest iteration: a development platform for SMEs.
Currently, NewCampus creates content in-house, then asks industry experts to come in and add their flair for expertise. Users should devote between 4 and 5 hours per week to work, with 90 minutes spent in live instructor-led workshops. The material differs from other online programs by focusing on more philosophical skills, like how to create a safe environment for teams or how to retain knowledge, instead of topics like Finance 101. Currently, its content seems more general, serving the emerging manager in tech, not the first manager managing a fintech startup during a pivot.
There are currently many workforce training tools on the market: Udemy, BetterUp, Skillshare, Udacity, but NewCampus is convinced that it can win by selling in a market that it considers underserved: the South East Asia.
NewCampus targets businesses with a presence of 500 to 1,000 people in the South East Asia region. Fan explained how companies like Grab, GoJek and Carousell are still looking to local trainers in countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, giving his company the opportunity to bring a pedagogy and image of more advanced brand.
While India’s frenzy of hiring and retaining talent is not to be missed, the co-founder says the startup is looking for other less crowded markets.
“[The customer] may be a 600-person FinTech company with a head office in Hong Kong, but their management team is in Hong Kong, their sales teams are in Sydney, Melbourne, their development team is in Indonesia, and their sales team is in Philippines, and already this distribution of remote team management is sophisticated and nuanced in its own way, ”said Fan.
Yao compared the dynamics of improving diversity and inclusion efforts in the United States to the dynamics of improving intercultural communication in Southeast Asia, “due to market fragmentation and the speed at which which the teams are developing in the region ”. She added that many US-based enhancement products “don’t speak to the rest of the world,” which gives NewCampus the ability to create an instructor pool, time zone, and product for its end users.
Small organizations can purchase annual subscriptions for their managers to take general content courses, while large organizations can pay for internal programs that NewCampus will manage and then run themselves. As with any B2B business model, selling to an institution rather than an individual seems to be more lucrative over time as the startup begins to serve hundreds and thousands of managers. However, Yao pointed out that NewCampus’ strategic advantage is more to help improve the skills of small organizations.
“In fact, it really serves underserved businesses that don’t have access to traditional training facilities at these prices,” Yao said. “At the same time, a lot of the companies we work with now are more used to keeping something that is within their company, it’s a bit of a balance between the two.” The split between individual programming and internal programming is currently 50/50.
Currently, around 80% of NewCampus learners and 60% of its instructors identify as women.
Test the tester
The test for NewCampus is whether it can adapt its content to be effective and include hundreds of thousands of emerging managers. This will force the company to reduce its content to specific management paths depending on the profession, or to grow and serve seasoned managers as well.
NewCampus is pursuing university accreditation, which suggests that it eventually sees itself becoming a replacement for traditional degrees. Fan compared it to how fintech startups acquired banking licenses half a decade ago, in an effort to build brand awareness and trust.
According to a number of investors who had seen NewCampus ‘pitch deck, the university license transfer is a nod to NewCampus’ initial bet: that it could become an alternative to the MBA.
The problem with modern business schools is that much of the usefulness in higher education is not the content, but the network and the brand name that ends up in a student’s resume. . While NewCampus can therefore rely on accreditation as a differentiation, it really needs to rely on different ways of signaling to society that its content – and the consumers of its content – is important. Yao believes investors might not understand NewCampus’ interpretation of the business school graduation replacement.
“They are thinking of big names, like Stanford and Harvard,” she said. “We take care of the business education vertical as a whole, the people who come to us are not the people who didn’t get into Harvard, they are 100% the people who never considered Harvard to start with. “