Mana.bo, which started off with the aim to shake up Japan’s US$10 billion juku, or cram school industry, just raised US$2.4 million in fresh funds as it plans to expand its reach beyond online classes.
The new round of money is from Z-Kai, a big tutoring chain in the country, which publishes books and offers distance education services.
The students are preparing for Japan’s rigorous college entrance exams.
The funding will be used to “maximize the combination” of Z-Kai’s in-person teaching and Mana.bo’s real-time online tutoring, said Mana.bo finance chief Koichi Tsunoda.
“Our service remains online, but we will be collaborating closely with cram schools to provide more comprehensive support. For us, cram schools sales are imperative to our business as our users are composed of enterprise clients, namely cram schools, and individual clients, students,” Koichi said.
“We have these two business models, B2B and B2C, and we are currently focusing our resources on B2B business.”
Mana.bo’s service primarily targets junior high school and high school students preparing for Japan’s rigorous entrance exams, claiming to provide a cost-effective alternative to brick-and-mortar cram schools.
Students can send in images of their problems, say a math equation, and any available tutor on the Mana.bo platform can review it and offer to help in real-time. They can use text and video chat, as well as a virtual whiteboard.
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Currency converted from Japanese Yen. US$1 = JPY 104.9.