Neo Zhizhong, Co-Founder and CEO of Geniebook
East Ventures


20 March 2024

From Portfolios

From brick-and-mortar to AI-powered learning: The journey of Geniebook

Geniebook offers a personalized e-learning platform that utilizes AI technology to enhance student learning

As the world gets more digital, education is undergoing a revolution with new tools and approaches to enhance student learning. Education veterans Neo Zhizhong and Alicia Cheong began as private tutors over 10 years ago. After university, they founded School Plus in 2007, offering tailored math and science lessons. Despite early success, scaling became a challenge due to limitations in manpower and time.

“Personalisation was notoriously difficult to scale because of the growing number of students at the learning center. Tailoring the experience was also a highly manual process that required extensive time and energy,” noted Zhizhong.

At this point, Zhizhong and his team knew they had evolved beyond their brick-and-mortar education centers to meet their vision of accelerating student learning. The scale of opening more centers would not be comparable to a technology-led approach. Going fully digital was the fastest way to achieve their vision.

Therefore, they launched Geniebook in 2017, an edtech platform that uses machine learning and human teachers to personalize each student’s education.

“Our next challenge then was bringing this product to the masses. As we rolled out the Geniebook platform to the public, the team sought and received feedback from both students and parents on how the apps could be improved. Doing so allowed Geniebook to rapidly iterate its products in tune with what its users desired, ultimately aiding the goal of creating a more scalable service,” said Zhizhong.

Today, Singapore-based Geniebook leverages a trifecta of artificial intelligence, live streams, and chatrooms to turn the educators’ dream of personalized learning into reality and drive measurable improvements in students’ performance.

Empowering learning: Geniebook’s suite of solutions

Leveraging AI Geniebook’s learning ecosystem offers a personalized experience where students can practice with tailored questions, attend classes, and seek clarification within the same platform. With real-time grading and support from dedicated advisors, Geniebook provides comprehensive learning solutions, including:

  • GenieSmart: The AI-personalised worksheet generator harnesses proprietary AI technology, analyzing over one million data points to recommend questions tailored to maximize student improvement. Questions dynamically adjust based on students’ mastery of each topic, with over 300,000 aligned with the Ministry of Education (MoE) syllabus. Expert-crafted explanations accompany personalized reports on student performance. Additionally, the AI-marking feature covers 80 percent of all P3-P6 Science Open-Ended Questions (OEQs), providing immediate feedback.
  • GenieClass: Real-time online lessons feature experienced educators, including MOE/NIE-trained teachers, delivering interactive sessions with demonstrations and experiments. Weekly live classes accommodate flexible learning schedules.
  • GenieAsk: The community platform enables real-time chat (Monday to Friday: 3 to 9 PM, Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM to 7 PM) and private messaging with teachers for instant doubt clarification and homework assistance.
  • Learning rewards: The Bubble Store motivates independent learning with over 5,000 kid-safe items for redemption. Gamification elements, including achievement badges, streaks, and leaderboards, promote continuous engagement.

“We have been ahead of the curve in integrating AI into our business. At our core, we have been harnessing the power of AI for education since we started in 2017, well in advance of the AI boom we have seen in the last two years. To remain competitive, we are continually innovating and planning exciting developments for the future. Looking ahead, we see the immense potential of AI, especially generative AI, to revolutionize education and learning. The true power of AI lies in its ability to deliver measurable outcomes. By leveraging AI in strategic and innovative ways, we are poised to shape the future and unlock opportunities for success,” said Zhizhong.

Financial sustainability and growth: Revenue model and funding success

Geniebook operates on an annual subscription revenue model, offering packages for English, Chinese, Maths, and Science subjects tailored to students from Primary 1 to Secondary 4. Each subject subscription costs SG$270.48 per month and grants access to GenieSmart, GenieClass, and GenieAsk, along with associated learning rewards from the Bubble Store.

The company’s educational consultants also offer a complimentary Strengths Analysis to assist prospective parents in better comprehending the value of the learning ecosystem and how it aids their children in addressing specific learning gaps. Beyond that, learning advisors actively support users throughout their subscription period, ensuring maximum learning and academic improvement on the platform.

Most recently, Geniebook secured US$16.6 million in Series A funding led by East Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from notable angel investors including John Danner (Founder of Dunce Capital), Gaurav Munjal and Roman Saini (Founders of Unacademy), Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal (Founders of Snapdeal), and senior executives from Grab, Shopee, and Gojek.

With this funding, Geniebook’s total raised amounts to US$18 million, following its previous US$1.1 million pre-Series A round in 2019 from Apricot Capital.

Leading innovation in education: Geniebook’s future endeavors

Zhizhong noted that Geniebook aligns with Singapore’s Ministry of Education’s focus on nurturing joyful learning while highlighting the company’s commitment to continuous innovation, particularly by developing new AI modules and innovations to personalize further the learning experience for a wider range of students.

Harnessing large language models (LLMs) as a foundation, Geniebook is prototyping a Composition Grader capable of instantly assessing essays, providing feedback on grammar, vocabulary usage, text flow, and a preliminary score.

The company is also prototyping a Hints system designed to encourage ongoing student learning by providing targeted advice on demand, especially when attempting to answer challenging questions on GenieSmart worksheets. These marking tools, alongside ongoing advancements in AI, aim to accelerate student learning and improvement.

Geniebook is currently developing Geniebook CAMPUS, a hybrid model that merges online personalization with offline instruction to create an engaging classroom environment, aiming to revitalize the traditional tuition formula for a post-pandemic world.

“As our children grow up, their ability to learn quickly and to adapt will remain essential for success. We are proud to offer a platform that empowers students to take control of and accelerate their learning,” remarked Zhizhong.

Geniebook has evolved from traditional tutoring to a tech-driven platform aiming to revolutionize education, leveraging AI technology to personalize student learning alongside human instructors. Its focus on innovation suggests continued development in AI-powered education, shaping the future of learning for students in a digital age.

The original article was published on e27, 19 March 2024.