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Startup teaching children to code raises $3.2 million

COLDSKY.CN – Geek 8, a startup teaching children aged six to15 to code, has harvested a 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) investment from New Oriental Education & Technology amid a new fad among Chinese parents who want kids to be competitive in the digital world.

In a typical Geek 8 class, students will watch a teacher’s Power Point instruction about computer programming first, then use software to finish a task and have group discussions, reported 36kr.com. The startup divides its courses over a range of levels, with each class for up to 10 students costing 200 yuan. The service started in August 2016 and has trained more than 500 students, usually in shared offices across the city.

The company’s CEO Zhan Shuang, who has an MBA in education from the University of Illinois, said the business idea first developed with her own son in 2015 when her husband, a software engineer, created module-based courses that embed gaming and animation.

Zhang persuaded Mao Daqing, founder and chairman at UrWork Venture Capital, to provide angel funding and later developed teaching materials with three teachers in computer science, reported startup news portal pencilnews.cn.

Geek 8 states on its website that it hopes “to promote the programming training for children in China and make Chinese children keep pace with the world in the information age.” It also says the training can “improve the logical thinking of children and pave the best way to compete in the Olympiad in Informatics.”

A number of Chinese startups have introduced software or hardware to train children how to program. Codemao.cn, designed for children aged 6 to 16 through a nine-level curriculum, received 120 million yuan in Series B funding last November from Hillhouse Capital(高瓴资本),Crystal Stream (清流资本), Qinghan Fund (清晗基金) and Cheetah Mobile (猎豹移动).

Claiming it’s the largest provider of children programing tools, Codemao.cn touts the words of Steve Jobs on its website – “Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”

As well, Xiamen-based Stoneware Technology has introduced GOBOT, which integrates coding and math studies for children.

(contact the author ukingsun@qq.com or WeChat: ukingsun)

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