Vietnam’s digital economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, but the country is facing a growing shortage of IT workers. Many kids want to study coding, but school curricula are limited, said Tung Nguyen, co-founder of MindX, an online / offline training platform that focuses on preparing students for technology careers.
The company announced today that it has raised a $ 3 million Series A, led by Wavemaker Partners, Vietnamese investment bank Thien Viet Securities and a US-based covert investor. MindX has also received funding from the Beacon Fund, an investment firm that focuses on companies founded by women.
The funding will be used to expand MindX’s online platform, create more educational content, and expand into Vietnamese Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and rural provinces. MindX plans to build its network of technology companies that offer jobs to students who complete its courses. The startup’s courses are focused on children ranging from kindergarten to grade 12, as well as college students. He says the alumni have gone on to work as software engineers at companies like Google, Amazon, and Shopee.
For students joining MindX with the goal of becoming tech professionals, the startup plans to start offering an income-sharing arrangement, in which students pay their tuition only after securing a job, eliminating the need to advance payments.
“A concern for low-income parents is that they want their children to have a guaranteed job, but they don’t want to run out of school fees,” Tung said. “They have asked for funding solutions and we plan to implement the income sharing model by the end of this year for our students.” An example will be a program aimed at students who already have one or two years of work experience at software companies in Vietnam. The course will prepare them to find a higher paying job in Singapore and allow them to reimburse their tuition after starting work.
MindX was created as a non-profit organization in 2015 by Tung Nguyen and Ha Nguyen. At the time, they both worked in tech companies and taught part-time programming lessons between their jobs, providing learning spaces and laptops for their students. After a year, the demand increased to the point where the two decided to commit full-time to MindX as a company.
MindX now has 13 offline locations in Vietnam, in addition to its online training platform, and claims to have been profitable over the past six years, including during COVID-19. In fact, the founders of MindX say that as of September 2021 MindX has experienced a 1,000% year-over-year growth in online signups.
MindX partners with 200 technology companies in Vietnam, Singapore, Japan and other countries to help find jobs for its students after completing their training and claims that its graduate hiring rates are 100% in Vietnam and 55% in Singapore. Some of the companies also act as educational partners. For example, they give MindX students the ability to create technology products or live projects with them.
For both Tung Nguyen and Ha Nguyen, starting MindX was a personal mission. “We didn’t have the opportunity to study technology early in our life,” Tung said. “For example, I was born into a poor working family in a remote province of Vietnam. Computers were very, very expensive, they cost a fortune for most Vietnamese families at the time, so obviously my family couldn’t afford it for me. “
Tung was the first person in his extended family to go to college, but dropped out after a year “because I didn’t find any passion in the university curriculum and didn’t see my future in it.” Instead, he spent two and a half years studying programming on his own. “I think the experience of learning software engineering and programming has transformed my life, because it has opened up many opportunities for me,” including a software engineering position at a technology company in Hamburg, Germany.
While there, Tung met many European colleagues who were about the same age as him, but had started coding much earlier when they were in elementary school. “I really realized that for myself and other young students in Vietnam, if we had the same opportunity to study software engineering, we could have had a much better future and many more opportunities to compete and participate in the global job market. “.
MindX founders claim that many STEM training centers in Vietnam only offer 3- to 4-month courses. On the other hand, MindX’s options range from one year to ten years, depending on the age, levels and goals of the students. Most parents and students initially chose shorter courses, but MindX has recently seen more students start with 2-, 5-, or 6-year programs to prepare for a technology career. Students are organized in cohorts and work closely with teachers.
After finishing the courses, MindX Career Counselors help students build CVs and prepare for job interviews. Part of the new MindX funding will be used to apply blockchain technology to track relationships between MindX alumni and the companies hiring them in order to automate the application and interview process.
In an investment statement, Wavemaker General Partner Gavin Lee said, “We are thrilled to support the MindX team with their vision to revolutionize the Vietnam tech education landscape and unlock career opportunities for 20 million students of Vietnam. primary and secondary school and college. MindX is responding to a clear need given the shortage of software engineering languages in Vietnam. “