Creating and grading tests are some of the most time-consuming tasks teachers handle. In Vietnam, a startup called Azota wants to help with an online software platform that not only helps teachers develop and proctor tests, but also automatically grades them using information from Vietnamese teaching materials. The company announced today that it has raised $2.4 million in pre-Series A funding led by GGV Capital with participation from Nextrans and returning investor Du Ventures.
Founded last year, Azota now counts 700,000 teachers and 10 million students in primary, secondary and high schools among its users. During the peak test period, it serves more than six million users each month, or 30% of Vietnam’s total teachers and students. It claims to be able to reduce the grading process from two hours to two minutes when done manually.
Azota was created in 2021 in the midst of a pandemic. Before co-founding the startup, its CEO Au Nguyen worked for Viettel, one of the largest telecoms in Vietnam. He led an education unit on school management solutions, but realized that teachers had many pain points that his team could not address. As a result, he decided to team up with his friends Dai Nguyen and Hung Le to create Azota.
“As the team sees it, teachers have two main jobs: teaching and assigning and grading tests,” she told TechCrunch in an email. “During COVID, teaching had to go online and there were many tools to support this change, such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams. But when it came to online assigning and grading, few tools were available. This has made the process very laborious and time-consuming.”
Azota built an optical character recognition app to automatically recognize question answers from test images taken from teachers’ phones. It shuffles those questions and answers to create hundreds of modified test combinations. The team said that because OCR is built on Vietnamese teaching materials, it can recognize Vietnamese tests with 99% accuracy.
Azota’s founders are also working on a more advanced question bank feature that lets teachers pick and choose from its inventory to create tests from scratch.
Teachers from all over the country use the startup, with about 22% coming from major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, while the rest are evenly distributed across all provinces in Vietnam, she added.
The team identifies two main competitors. The first are large corporations that provide learning management software (LMS) to schools, but they say this is still a fragmented market in Vietnam, with different companies dominating different regions.
The second is startups that provide tools for teachers, but the teaching tools segment is still early and Azota’s founders say that using a product-led growth model, they try to solve all the problems that come their way by solving teachers’ key challenges, especially hiring and grading.
In a prepared statement, GGV Capital Global Managing Partner Jixen Foo said, “By empowering teachers to teach education better, Azota makes better education available to millions of students. They can unleash the true potential of teachers to nurture the next generation of Vietnamese youth.