Can you believe it’s already been five years? They grow up so fast. In the case of VIPKid, that’s an understatement. VIPKid is quickly becoming a market leader in the online education industry. As of this year, the company has hired over 60,000 teachers, hosts a base of over 500,000 students, services China and 63 other countries, and has accrued over $850 million in funding. Now that’s what I call a growth spurt!
In celebration of their 5th anniversary, VIPKid invited over 1,000 staff members from their offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian, and Chengdu to a sports stadium to hold their own Olympiad. What better way to celebrate five years running than by running? On October 18th, this stadium was packed with VIPKid employees and family members watching their coworkers and relatives compete in relay races, a 6km marathon, tug-of-war, and several other Olympic activities.
Speeches were also given by students and founders of the company. CEO and Founder Cindy Mi shared her thoughts looking back at five years with VIPKid:
“What’s the thing that makes you proudest in the last five years? For me, it’s our teams.” She continued, “I am looking forward to the day when we can all look back and be proud of the work we’ve done. Why can human beings make a better world? Because we have education and wisdom.”
According to CEO and Founder, Cindy Mi, there is still a lot of work ahead for the company.
Elsewhere In the World…
Just a couple weeks earlier in Orlando, Florida, over 400 American VIPKid teachers and their Chinese students gathered in celebration of the company’s 5th anniversary at VIPKid’s third regional “Journey” conference for 2018.
The event started with teachers greeted by the Disney Institute, which is the business development and consulting division of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Shortly after, Jessie Chen, Co-Founder of VIPKid, opened with a speech about the growth of the company and the appreciation it has for its teachers. As her final message to the audience, Jessie Chen stated, “From zero to over 60,000 teachers, many of you have been teaching on the VIPKid platform for years, and we are truly grateful for your dedication to teaching.”
Teachers then attended seminars on proper methods for teaching English online, Chinese culture, and educational trends across the globe as part of the Journey conference before joining the visiting students from China. After the students and teachers finally met face to face, they heard a few words from CEO and Founder, Cindy Mi. She said, “There is no greater calling than educating the future generation and that is why so many teachers are here today.”
Jessica Graeber and her mother, both residents of Florida who teach for VIPKid, were among the attendees to comment on the conference. When asked about the company, Jessica said, “VIPKid has brought dignity back to teachers. They have created a community of passionate educators who feel valued, seen and heard. Journey is a celebration of that community. It is especially meaningful to me because I can share this experience with my mom.”
As mentioned, this is the third Journey conference in 2018, however, this is one of the first events held by the company where students and teachers on the VIPKid platform have met in person. The students were able to travel to the event in Walt Disney World as part of their first stop in VIPKid’s “World Classroom.”
The World Classroom Project is an endeavor by VIPKid to bring students out of their traditional classroom and make the world their learning environment. In partnership with Visit Orlando, an office that promotes tourism in Orlando, and Walt Disney World, students can take a virtual tour of the theme park and the city of Orlando online then visit the sites in person with their teachers. This is all part of Cindy Mi’s vision to cultivate learning on a global scale through the cultural exchange as she stated, “Through our partnership with Visit Orlando and the access that Walt Disney World has given us, teachers will have even more opportunities to help students become future global citizens.”
In commemoration of this event, Orlando District 6 Commissioner and Pro Tempore Mayor Samuel B. Ings declared, “On behalf of the citizens of this community, I extend our heartfelt welcome to the families from China and North American teachers and hereby proclaim Saturday, September 29th as Cindy Mi and VIPKid Day.” Not bad after only five years.
The Path Forward
In moving forward, VIPKid has maintained a clear goal since its beginning:
“Our mission is to inspire and empower every child for the future. In order to do this, we have embarked on a better way to teach foreign languages. We encourage curiosity, critical thinking and creativity from our teachers and students.” – VIPKID Mission Statement
VIPKid was originally established in 2013 and shortly transitioned into 2014 with only ten teachers. In 2015, the company opened their first office in the hutongs, or alleys, of Beijing. Word spread rapidly and by 2016 the company grew to 7,000 teachers and 100,000 students. That same year the company started appearing in U.S. news and media. The company grew rapidly after that with more teachers joining the platform. In 2017, the company launched Lingo Bus, a platform for children from ages 5-12 to learn Mandarin Chinese. That same year, they opened their San Francisco office while the main office in Beijing moved to a larger location. This year, 2018, they held their first, second, and third Journey conferences. They also reached a milestone of over 60,000 teachers and over 500,000 teachers.
In moving forward, the company has recently announced major partnerships in its plans to continue growth. One such partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) includes plans to expand its curricula and product lines. This is the most recent in a long series of partnerships including Tencent, Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia Capital, Sinovation Ventures, Matrix Partners, Northern Light VC, Learn Capital, Coatue Management, and Bryant Stibel, among others.
The company has also announced plans to expand to 100 countries and open 10 international offices over the next three years. Currently they service China and 63 countries. At this rate, it seems VIPKID is on track to continue spearheading the online education industry one student at a time.
This post was written by Luis Egea who has been teaching with VIPKid for over 11 months. Before that, he spent two years teaching ESL to immigrants preparing for the US naturalization exam. He owns and operates EZTeachOnline which is a website and blog that offers guidance to applicants throughout the hiring process with VIPKid.