Softbank Ventures Korea Makes Investment in Chinese Mobile Education Developer SmarTos

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SmarTots, a leading Chinese developer of mobile education apps for kids, has received Series A investment of 2.1 billion won from SoftBank Ventures Korea. The funding comes from SoftBank’s SB Pan-Asia Fund and existing investors Xu Xiaoping, Angelvest, SOSVentures and ChinaRock Capital Management participated in the round.

SmarTots, founded in 2011, is a kids learning platform available on iOS devices that keeps parents up to date with what their child is learning. Many overseas apps fail to pick up traction in the Chinese market due to reasons such as language and cultural norms. Smartos has found success with localisation and hopes to support developers in the world’s fastest growing mobile app market through translation and other methods.

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“The growth of smartphones and tablets in China has been tremendous,” said Jesper Lodahl, CEO of SmarTots and the father of two children. “Combined with the incredible demand for high-quality education, Chinese parents want the best apps from around the world for their children, but language is a barrier. SmarTots works with international developers to localize their content for Chinese-speaking audiences. And soon, we’ll be expanding to markets all around Asia.”

The company wants to use this round of funding to further its leading position in the Chinese market by partnering up with other education app developers and acquiring content. SmarTots also says that it is planning to make the leap to Android with funds from the deal. SmarTots currently has 26 education apps for kids on the Chinese market and has recorded a total of 1 million downloads.

“The formation of SoftBank’s SB Pan-Asia Fund is the result of SoftBank Corp’s long-term commitment to the region and its goal to cultivate regional winners. We believe that SmarTots has the right approach and team to provide an engaging educational experience for kids, and will prove to be a regional leader in the mobile learning industry.” said Greg Moon, CEO of SoftBank Ventures Korea.

The deal comes just a few days after SoftBank Ventures Korea made an investment in US mobile live broadcast solutions company TVU Networks. Up until now the Korean branch of the VC firm has mostly stuck to funding Korean startups, but this latest news indicates that it is now looking more closely at companies in neighboring countries as well as the US.

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/ andy@venturesqaure.net

Andy has lived in Korea since 2007 and is the Global Editor for VentureSquare.

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