Gowell, a Hong Kong-based education company, has raised US$1 million in the first round of its fundraising from a group of venture-capital funds including Fresco Capital and Nest Investments.
Gowell will use the proceeds to strengthen its overseas studies preparation business in China. Currently, it only has one education center, in Shenyang, although a second one is expected to be ready by mid-year.
Allison Baum, executive director of Fresco Capital, said investing in the educational technologies sector in Asia has become a major trend.
In view of its limited resources, Gowell could only handle a small group of Chinese students. But the new funding will enable the company to expand in the lucrative business, chief executive Linda Wu Tin-lai told the Hong Kong Economic Journal’s StartUpBeat.
Chinese demand for overseas education is growing. Around 800,000 Chinese students were attending universities in United States during the 2013-14 academic year, up 8 percent from the previous year, according to the Institute of International Education.
Gowell gained wide recognition in the education industry with its two popular language learning platforms — GoChinese and GoEnglish.
Software users can choose whichever article they like, input the text into GoChinese, and the software will automatically turn the content into voice, show the English translations and the Putonghua pronunciations in Pinyin—the standard system of romanized spelling. GoEnglish works the same way.
Backed by its success in language software, Gowell decided to go overseas and started its international education business in China.
One of Gowell’s key programs is the American College Testing’s Global Assessment Curriculum Program. The GAC is a college preparatory course for students looking to attend university in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Gowell will also provide a one-stop service for students planning to study overseas. For example, the company would help them in choosing the best university for the course they want to take and teach them skills on how to pass interviews.
Wu founded Gowell with his father Apollo Wu Wen-chiu back in 2003. The senior Wu was an engineer and once an official Chinese translator at the United Nations’ New York headquarters.
Linda Wu was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in New York and Hong Kong in the early 1990s, and thereafter held senior positions at several other corporations such as Sun Hung Kai Properties’ technology arm iAdvantage.
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