PALF and EdTech Startups in Asia with T T Nguyen Duc

PALF and EdTech Startups in Asia with T T Nguyen Duc
T. T. Nguyen Duc from Pearson Affordable Learning Fund shared her perspectives & investment thesis on edtech startups & its focus in Asia.

T.T. Nguyen Duc, Head of Asia for Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) joined us for a conversation on the coverage of their funds focusing on education (or edtech) startups globally. She shared with us the investment thesis of PALF & how they evaluate the education startups with metrics pertaining to their mission to help uplift many out there via education. In the same conversation, T.T. discussed her perspectives on the edtech startups from global & regional trends & the potential exit scenarios for these startups.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • T.T. Nguyen Duc (LinkedIn, @ttnguyenduc), Head of Asia, Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), a US$65M fund invests in education technology, services & solutions to meet demand for affordable education in Africa, Asia & Latin America (EdTechX Asia Conference)
    • How did you start your career? [1:42]
    • From your various roles in consulting (Oliver Wyman), business (Chegg, SkillShare) and your own startup (, what are the interesting career lessons you can share? [3:35]
  • Pearson Affordable Learning Fund [5:15]
    • Can you briefly introduce the Pearson, the British multinational publishing & education company (Revenue: 4.48B GBP in 2015)? [5:24]
    • Can you give an introduction to the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund and its relation to Pearson? What is the mission and vision? [6:15]
    • What is the investment thesis of the fund? [8:18]
    • How does the fund select the companies for investment? Are the edtech companies strictly for profit? [9:25]
    • What kind of metrics which PALF use to evaluate their startups? [11:33]
    • What are the attributes of the education technology companies that the fund is likely to invest in? [12:30]
    • What does the startup founders and team possess to be of interest to Pearson? [12:58]
    • Which are the interesting companies that have benefitted from the fund in Southeast Asia or elsewhere? [14:01]
  • Global and Regional EdTech investment trends [16:50]
    • What are the funding appetite for edtech startups? [16:50]
    • Do you think that it’s sustainable? [19:54]
    • How do you describe the edtech ecosystem in Southeast Asia? [21:28]
    • Broadly speaking, in the West, there is the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and many education initiatives that have emerged and scaled from developed to developing countries, how do you see these companies moving forward? [24:35]
    • There is still a traditional way of operations in education institutions where physical infrastructure and labor costs are concerned, can these EdTech companies replace the traditional institutions? [26:52]
    • How does EdTech companies deal with the signalling problem in which they need to offer certification and accreditation to the courses attended? [28:30]
    • Does emerging markets offer new edtech innovation which will grow ground up and not be created in the developed markets? [30:04]
    • How do edtech companies exit? [32:17]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Altizen and sign up for their mailing list. Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.