Whales English Received Series B+ Financing Led by New Oriental

BEIJING, Jan. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On January 26, the leading brand in online K-12 English group classes, Whales English, has announced the completion of series B+ round of funding. This round of financing is led by New Oriental, a giant in the Chinese domestic education industry, followed by Sino Ocean Capital, a leading alternative asset management organization in China, and Taihe Capital. Taihe Capital continues to act as the exclusive financial consultant. This is the first time that New Oriental Group has invested in K-12 English live teaching products. So far, Whales English has raised a total of RMB 220 million in round B series of funding.

Tom Wu, the CEO of Whales English, said that in order to enable more Chinese children to enjoy the world’s top education concepts and resources, Whales English will continue to increase investments based on the “original reading product matrix” after obtaining this round of financing.

With this new round of funding the company will focus on three areas: 1. Catering to different age groups. The focus will be on refining the company’s products and exploring new ways to teach to Chinese students of different age groups. 2. While still adhering to the 1V2 small group class style, the company will launch larger group classes to meet the needs of all customers. 3. Product effectiveness. Whales English has introduced the world’s first evaluation system published by National Geographic Learning and will introduce more optimized evaluation systems in the future. These systems will adopt the process and outcomes evaluation approach which really focuses on the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. This process and outcomes evaluation approach conducts qualitative and quantitative evaluation which looks at the ‘Learning before, during and after’, so that parents and teachers can have a better sense of where students are with their learning at any given time, and quickly and efficiently adjust the teaching methods and curriculum accordingly. This evaluation system evaluates students’ learning more accurately and comprehensively.

8 years of the original reading method – a double win through reputation

Whales English is an online English education brand focused on “cultivating excellence” for students between the ages of 3 and 18 years old. The school helps students improve their English comprehension skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing from the point of having no English skills at all to full English competency and proficiency. This is achieved through intensive reading and heuristic teaching styles of English-speaking teachers, original American textbooks and the “Three-fixed model” (Fixed teacher, Fixed students and Fixed schedule).

Whales English has been active in the K-12 English education for 8 years. Since its establishment, it has been adhering to the original English teaching products. Creating effective and superior teaching content and educational products, is a time-intensive venture that should not be rushed through. In the first five years, the founding team has refined and updated teaching methods and materials through experimenting with their own children. This does not only demonstrate their confidence in the products, but it also reflects their sense of responsibility to students. At Whales English, the team considers every student to be as important as their own children.

With such confidence and determination, Whales English insists on refining and improving its original reading based teaching system and thereby making available the most efficient English products for Chinese students. It is Whales English’s high-quality teaching products that helped the company gain a large number of loyal users that was the catalyst for the start of its large-scale exploration in 2017.

In the past three years, Whales English stood out in the highly competitive market with its high-quality products and incomparable teaching effectiveness that really helped to create a win-win situation for brand reputation and commercialization. Currently, the monthly revenue of Whales English is 150 million yuan. The cumulative number of students the company serves is over 1 million. The profit of the first UE is 15%, while the renewal rate remains at about 80%, and the referral rate is up to 70%. The company has entered a healthy stage of large-scale growth and has become the No.1 online K-12 English group class education brand in China.

Online K-12 English Education 2.0 – Original reading method creates more effectiveness

In 2020, the year of the global pandemic, the education and training industry was exposed to great challenges and changes. As a result, users’ acceptance of online education is rapidly improving, and the online English education industry is showing an obvious iterative and incremental trend.

With self-developed teaching methods that combine “Foreign teachers + Self-developed teaching materials + ESL teaching method”, 1.0 game based online education products were born. Although this new design helps to focus children by making them sit down and willing to make an attempt to learn through games and interactive teaching methods, it also has obvious shortcomings:

  • The teachers are not professionals
  • The teachers lack teaching experience and can only read the materials
  • The self-developed teaching materials are not professionally rigorous and systematic enough

This kind of 1.0 game-based teaching method that focuses mainly on listening training, is relatively simple and mechanical. It seems to encourage students at the beginning, but it does not go far enough to explore and unpack children’s understanding and application abilities in the actual learning process. Compared with the 2.0 model, the 1.0 model lacks learning effect verification and performance measurement. The poor learning effect and homogeneity of 1.0 model products put online K-12 English learning under siege and can lead to an industry dilemma.

As the user demands for measurable learning outcomes continue to increase, online English products have entered the era of 2.0. Whales English strives to reproduce the native English classroom online as much as possible by implementing “Experienced native English-speaking teachers + original textbooks + ELA original reading teaching method”. With professional teachers, textbooks and native English teaching method, Whales English continues to be favored by parents who have a preference for higher quality products and learning objectives that are more in line with the current national standards Quality English learning trend.

Whales English has been prioritizing the concept of effective teaching, and thereby taking the lead in launching the industry-leading original teaching reading method all in an effort to create original courses that are more suitable for Chinese children.

Whales English courses adopt the original reading based teaching method based on ELA teaching method (based on English as mother tongue), which focuses on listening, speaking and writing through original reading. It is synchronized with children’s language classes in Britain and America. It is also in line with the expression and thinking mode of English native speakers so that children can quickly improve their comprehension abilities of listening, speaking, reading and writing in English. The courses at Whales English encourage independent expression and cultivate in students excellent English reading and writing abilities.

At the same time, the courses cover a wide breadth of knowledge in areas of nature, history, humanities and other disciplines. This really helps to continuously stimulate students’ interest and expand their knowledge base. These kinds of courses also help to cultivate children’s “critical thinking” skills, encouraging more thoughtful and complex expressions; to think more critically, to express opinions from an early age, and ultimately developing a broader perspective about life and about their future.

Entering English teaching 2.0 together with New Oriental, with education as the fundamental core

In the face of new development opportunities and growth cycles, Whales English strives to actively embrace the 2.0 era as it joins hands with New Oriental, an institution with the same educational aspirations and philosophy that sees the need and benefit of continuing to focus on the original reading strategy.

This is all in an effort to benefit young Chinese English learners of different age groups, and to accommodate children with different needs with more diversified products that would ultimately result in the spread and promotion of high-quality education to all corners of the country.

As the leading investor and founder of New Oriental, Yu Minhong said that the times we are in call for effective and long-term educational products. Quality education has always been highly regarded in China. Excellent quality education should not only improve children’s subject matter skills but should also play a role in children’s thinking ability, personal development, social skills and other comprehensive abilities and core qualities that are very important for future society. These skills are necessary as they help children cultivate their abilities to broaden their horizons, understand the world they live in, and think independently.

The New Oriental strategic investment team also recognizes the concept and effectiveness of Whales English products, and believes that the education concept and product features meet the expectations of New Oriental for quality English education products. They believe that it is very challenging to make education products that can stand the test of the market.

To be able to achieve this, a company needs excellent teaching content, a superior teaching design, a conducive teaching environment and competent teaching staff, as well as a sustainable commercial operation. Whales English checks all those boxes. As the first batch of online education institutions, Whales English has experienced many ups and downs in the online education industry. The company’s achievements today are not only due to the continuous improvement of their products, but also due to their strong education mindset and attitude. New Oriental will vigorously support the development of Whales English in terms of resources as they work together for a better future for Chinese children.

Sino Ocean Capital, a previous shareholder, continues to make additional investment in this round of funding. Lin Chuan, Deputy General Manager of Sino Ocean capital and General Manager of equity investment business center, pointed out that at present, in order to compete for traffic, the online education industry generally uses the traditional marketing methods of spending a lot of money on advertising, signing spokesmen and embedding variety shows. He however noted that, education is not a business purely about traffic and customer acquisition, but also about impact and learning effect. Education should also be about how it impacts our children.

Whales English is a rare educational institution in the industry that really pays attention to the teaching and learning outcomes. For quite a long time it has invested in effective teaching and learning experiences. In so doing the company has established its own reputation, not only for enjoying brand power and a sustainable business moat, but also for its high-quality teaching and excellent learning outcomes.

At the same time, Whales English is well versed in the logic of the education business and uses the advantage of the “word-of-mouth” strategy to drive growth, thus truly achieving the balance between growth and economic model. It can be said that Whales is a unique institution in the industry, which not only pays attention to the learning outcomes, but also to better balances, rapid scale development and a sustainable economic model. We are very proud and enthusiastic about our products and learning models.

Jiang Kaiyang, Director of Taihe Capital, and who also serves as the exclusive financial consultant for this round of financing, said that Whales has formed a strong differentiated position with its value proposition of “cultivating excellence”. This idea of cultivating excellence focuses on the learning effect and peer competition, which is significantly different from the children’s oral English education which purely focuses on conversational skills. This also enables Whales English to cover the learning needs of subjects in the K12 stage.

In addition, “Cultivating excellence” can only happen with the adoption of a more efficient teaching method, and the best way to learn a language is to adop
t a more heuristic and conversational teaching style instead of the scripted and follow-up method. Finally, “cultivating excellence” is a universal demand. Whales English courses incrementally take students from zero English to college entrance examination level. It is clear that cultivating excellence in children of all ages is the best way forward in English comprehension and communication.
We are highly optimistic about the team’s persistence and understanding of the underlying goals and purpose of education. We hope that we can help more Chinese children learn English more efficiently and confidently.

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SOURCE Whales English