Ascend Now, a Singapore-based education technology startup, has raised an additional $700,000 in its seed funding round from four undisclosed private investors, marking its first external round of funding after being bootstrapped for four years.
The company plans to use the fresh funds to hire a chief marketing officer to lead its promotional efforts, as well as a chief technology officer to build its own development and content creation teams. It will also use the funds to improve its current learning management system and bolster its marketing team for the community.
Founded in 2018 by Devi Sahny, Ascend Now offers personalized online coaching and mentoring for K-12 students on both academic and beyond academic topics. It currently offers one-on-one, online, synchronous sessions and personalizes it to each student by using proprietary intellectual property made by experts and examiners. Through its modules, the company aims to develop entrepreneurship in kids.
Ascend Now's academic side offers IB courses taught by IB Examiners, AP and A level courses as well as college test prep courses. The platform is not only focused on improving the student's grade but also on building a passion for that subject. Its Beyond Academic side has courses such as personal finance, journalism, book publishing, the economics of video games, executive function and many more. These courses are designed for those students that want to expand their knowledge and work on interesting projects with tangible outcomes.
Speaking about the company, Founder and CEO of Ascend Now, Devi Sahny, said in a statement,
"We want to be the biggest skills-content provider to K-12 students globally. A lot is changing in the edtech industry, but what is not changing as quickly is content – we feel that life skills need to be taught to students such as how to cope with uncertainty, networking without fear, and self-awareness."
Ascend Now is also looking at partnership opportunities with schools beyond its network in the near future. It has already partnered with international schools such as the United World College of Southeast Asia, Dulwich College, Australian International School, XCL World Academy in Singapore, Help International School in Malaysia, and Jakarta Intercultural School in Indonesia.
Last year in December, the company was selected as one of the 15 startups for Sequoia Spark Fellowship, a new program for female founders in Southeast Asia and India. The startups in the program will each get a US$100,000 grant from Sequoia, and they will also take part in monthly mentorship sessions, have access to select Surge sessions, and receive hands-on support from Sequoia India portfolio specialists.
The latest investment will also be put into developing Ascend Now’s asynchronous self-learning platform, which will include academic and entrepreneurship content. It will also focus on democratizing soft skills education globally and providing a way for students to apply their learning beyond the classroom. For this effort, the firm will build a database of rich content.
In January this year, Ascend Now had raised US$2.1 million in the same round.
The investors that participated in the round include Karen Yung, co-founder of Dulwich College International; Peter Galante, co-founder and COO of Innovate Language Learning; Rishav Kajaria, owner of Hastings Jute Mill and several international schools; and two other private investors. It brings the startup's total fundraising in the round to $2.8 million.