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在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth
Former Ph.D. student turned a tutoring chain into a billion dollar fortune
    2017-December-19  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

PARENTS have been starting their children’s education at Chinese billionaire Zhang Bangxin’s schools for more than 10 years. Toddlers, some no older than 2, squirm their way through 90- to 120-minute classes (typical lesson: beginner math) that cost their parents about US$20 an hour. The average Chinese manufacturing worker, by comparison, earns around US$2 an hour. Some of these students will stick with Zhang’s tutors through high school, brushing up on history, math, Chinese, English and more.

Zhang’s Tomorrow Advancing Life (TAL) Education Group is one of the biggest players in Chinese private education. Revenues from his more than 300 schools in China has climbed nearly 300 percent in four years to US$434 million. The company’s New York-listed stock is up 200 percent since its October 2010 IPO, lifting the press-shy Zhang, TAL’s 36-year-old chief executive, into the billionaire ranks with a US$1.5 billion fortune in 2016.

Zhang’s path to this 10-figure net worth had an inauspicious beginning. After graduating from Sichuan University in 2001, Zhang worked seven part-time jobs — including tutoring — to keep afloat as a cash-strapped life sciences Ph.D. student at Peking University. The tutoring was so successful that Zhang decided to start a full-time business in 2003. Four years later, he dropped out of his Ph.D. program to focus on his new company, TAL Education Group.

Now, 10 years later, Zhang’s company has become one of the top five tutoring firms in China’s fragmented US$100 billion private education market, reaching 4 million Chinese students in 37 Chinese cities. While the company is still focused on physical expansion, its commitment to online education has allowed it to maintain its position in the Chinese market and grow, according to a Deloitte report in 2016.

TAL first began offering online courses in January 2010, and launched live online courses in 2012. The company launched a new “flipped classroom” experience in March 2015, allowing students to interact with their classes instead of just watching a recording. TAL also launched a mobile app that enables students to communicate with tutors at any time of day.

TAL claims that its online offerings account for nearly one-third of China’s online tutoring. While online courses only made up 3.6 percent of TAL’s total net revenue in 2015, online revenue has increased more than 1,000 percent since 2011. TAL says it has more than 35 million online registered users.

In addition to improving its own technology, TAL has focused on acquisitions and strategic investments to expand its digital footprint. In September last year, TAL acquired Firstleap Education, a Chinese company that provides online and offline tutoring for children between the ages of 2 and 15. A month later, TAL invested US$30 million in Phoenix E-Learning, which operates China’s largest online education platform. And in January 2016, TAL announced a strategic investment in education firm Knewton, with plans to integrate the adaptive learning leader’s technology into TAL’s own online education platform. “We want to be right at the cusp of where education meets technology,” Zhang told investors.

(SD-Agencies)

 

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