Henry Motte-Muñoz founded Edukasyon.ph in Manila five years ago to help improve education-to-employment outcomes for young Filipinos. The platform, which offers access to schools, scholarships, and online courses, is now visited by more than 10 million students each year.

In 2016 Edukasyon was backed by Mustard Seed, with a bridge round in 2018 led by Gobi Ventures, KSR ventures, and Lorinet Foundation. Last year its Series A was led by Edulab, French Partners and Foxmont Capital. Motte-Muñoz says the startup will launch a pre-B round later this year. 

Prior to Edukasyon.ph, he co-founded Bantay.ph, a youth-led good governance movement.

What’s the biggest tech opportunity in Southeast Asia that’s often overlooked?

Personalized mobile education and healthcare. Spending on both industries has outstripped nominal GDP growth for decades. Yet a lot of investment is still in the base infrastructure, such as building more schools and hospitals, when most of the potential lies in leveraging high mobile phone penetration, structural flaws in the ecosystem, and the constraints that Covid brings. 

What’s the most common misconception about doing business in the Philippines?

That it’s a “typical” Asian country. It’s actually a lot closer to Latin America – culturally, politically, and economically.  Three centuries of Spanish colonization and half a century of American occupation, a majority Christian population, and a democracy supposedly modeled on the US system, with a population that uses English as their first language and which thus consumes much more Western media than the typical Asian consumer.

What trend for investment for your market are you most excited about?

The Philippines has been a laggard in VC funding for the last 20 years, and the accelerating growth in funding, pre-Covid, was still relatively small, compared to its neighbors. The pandemic, by pushing many consumers online for the first time, has led to an explosion in the number of investments and valuations. 

What’s a key challenge with enabling online education in your market?

The biggest is connectivity. Internet speeds have improved, and costs have fallen, but reliable, affordable, and fast-enough internet for online learning is a reality for maybe just 15% to 20% of learners. This means even students in middle-class families aren’t set up for a successful online ed experience. Record capex by the two incumbent telco operators and the recent arrival of a third player are fortunately bridging the divide.

How are you preparing your company for the end of the pandemic?

The Philippines has had the strictest education lockdown in the world — students haven’t been to class since March 2020 and are not expected to return until June 2022. So, for the next 12 months, we are 100% focused on remote learning and will bring more offline/hybrid opportunities for 2022 onward.