#Asia HarukaEdu raises US$2.2M to help working Indonesians access higher education


The round was led by the VC arm of global education company Pearson, and Samator Education


Indonesia-based online higher education startup HarukaEdu has raised a US$2.2 million funding led by global education company Pearson’s VC arm, Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF); and Samator Education, along with CyberAgent Ventures.

PALF is a US$65 million fund that focussed on edtech. Indonesia is one of its high priority markets due to its market size and mobile-first approach.

HarukaEdu will use the funding to develop its partnerships with higher-education institutions in Indonesia to offer degrees online. It already has existing partnerships with six institutions and aims to double that number by 2017.

Opening up access to higher education

Co-founder and CEO of HarukaEdu, Novistiar Rustandi, said that his startup provides Indonesians with new and more accessible channels to quality higher education.

And with Indonesia’s economy projected to become the 7th largest in the world by 2030, the need for a larger highly skilled workforce comes at a critical time.

“Out of 114 million working adults in Indonesia, only eight million have a bachelor’s degree and only 34 million have high school diploma or a two-year college diploma, which is not enough for good paying job. When you apply for job postings or request for a promotion, you are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree,” said Rustandi, in an interview with e27.

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Rustandi explained that many adult Indonesians are working full time and hence, find it difficult to travel to school to attend night classes. The flexibility afforded by online programmes would be more compatible with their lifestyles.

“So we are working with accredited universities in Indonesia to transfer their quality offline programmes into an online format. They will be affordable, accessible and also come with a social online aspect,” he said.

HarukaEdu develops content with the universities, delivers video-based lectures using their LMS, and measures students’ results.


When asked if he was worried about competition from regional startups including those from China, Rustandi emphasised HarukaEdu’s homeground advantage; Indonesia’s education market presents unique challenges and cultural barriers that only a domestic company would have an in-depth understanding of – and thus, be more well-equipped to handle.

One example would abiding by regulations imposed by the Indonesian government.

“If we want to do online programmes we have to meet certain requirements from the government, and we also have to submit data from every school semester to the government. So we need to build a system that can transfer all these data automatically to them. If you just introduce a system from overseas, then you would need to adjust it to fit the local market,” he said.

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Another challenge is being attuned to the needs of different users. Rustandi said that the team listens carefully to user feedback to fine tune the design of their platform.

This led to the development of its own Learning Management System (LMS).

“When we look at our students, we realise that some of them are not very familiar with these gadgets [or online platforms] yet. So we built our own LMS which is designed to be very accessible and allows them to focus on what they have to do and complete during the week,” he said.

“And whenever they want to access anything, they can do so with one click from the dashboard. So far, we haven’t seen that kind of LMS in the market, yet,” he added.

There is also the challenge of finding the right pedagogical approach.

“In Indonesia, students are not actively discussing in the class, so we have to them to help them to start talking; we cannot just hold forum discussion with students and force them to talk, we have to do it slowly step by step and solve it in a local way,” said Rustandi.

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And beyond that, he added that tailoring the pedagogy to various levels of higher education and different market segments within Indonesia would also pose a challenge.

The HarukaEdu team, which consists of 70 staff and three co-founders, are currently working on an Android mobile app version as many Indonesians access the web through their smartphones. It is also developing a web app for tablets.

Rustandi said that it will only focus on the Indonesian market for now, but does not rule out exporting its end-to-end solution to other markets in the future.

“The priority of the [Indonesian] government now is to provide quality access to higher education, so I think we have come in at the right time,” concluded Rustandi.

Image Credit: HarukaEdu




The post HarukaEdu raises US$2.2M to help working Indonesians access higher education appeared first on e27.

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