China VC Weekly: Chinese Language, Agritech and Noodles

Last week saw a fundraising announcement from the Singapore-based Chinese language learning platform LingoAce. Guangzhou-headquartered agricultural drone maker Jifei Technology raised a record $182 million. Chinese noodle shop chain Hefu Noodle bagged a new round of investment from Tencent and others.

Chinese language learning platform LingoAce raises $6 million 

Singapore-based LingoAce – an edtech platform offering online Chinese language courses – has closed its Series A-plus round of financing, raising $6 million. The round was led by Sequoia Capital India with the participation of Shunwei Capital, an investment arm of Chinese smartphone and IoT product maker Xiaomi.

The capital injection brings the company’s total financing funds in its Series A round to roughly $13 million. Late last year, LingoAce had raised $3 million from Shenzhen-based angel investment firm Decent Capital and a further $7 million from Shunwei Capital in June.

LingoAce plans to deploy the new funds to expand its business in Southeast Asia, as well as for technological innovation and talent recruitment.

“Today, over 100 million people outside of China, 27 million of whom are K-12 students, are learning Chinese. And this number has been growing at 20% to 30%, year-on-year,” said Abheek Anand, managing director of Sequoia Capital India, in a statement.

About LingoAce
The three-year-old LingoAce develops interactive education products and services for non-Chinese speaking students from 4 to 15 years old. Aside from Singapore, it has a presence in Beijing, Wuhan and Los Angeles. Recently, it has also expanded its operations to Bangkok and Jakarta. The company has over 400 employees.

Agricultural drone maker Jifei Technology bags $182 million round led by Baidu and Softbank

Guangzhou-based agricultural drone manufacturer Jifei Technology, or Xaircraft, has announced it has raised 1.2 billion yuan ($182 million) in its latest investment round led by Baidu Capital and Softbank’s Vision Fund 2, marking a record in the Chinese agritech space, where the demand for unmanned aerial vehicles has risen amid the pandemic.

Sinovation Ventures, Guangzhou-based Yuexiu Industrial Fund, and state-backed Guangzhou Xinxin Capital, together with former backers of the drone manufacturer, also joined the round. China Renaissance acted as a financial advisor for the deal. 

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According to Chinese corporate data tracker Itjuzi, Jifei closed a Series C round in January last year, raising an undisclosed amount from investors including Topsec, Ants Capital, and Centerlab Investment Holding Limited.

Jifei plans to use the capital injection to strengthen its R&D and manufacturing, improve its channel-service capabilities, and for the construction of digital agricultural infrastructure and “unmanned farms.”

About Jifei Technology

Founded in 2007, Jifei ventured into agritech in 2013, in a bid to provide more cost-effective alternatives to massive manual operations, especially at a time when the agricultural labor force is aging. So far Jiefei has developed agricultural drones, remote sensing drones, unmanned ground vehicles, and agriculture loT devices and software, enabling accurate crop spraying, granular spreading, field scouting, on-farm material delivery, real-time monitoring, and management.

Noodle shop chain Hefu Noodle completes series D round led by Tencent 

Chinese noodle shop chain Hefu Noodle has officially completed a series D round of financing raising 450 million yuan. The round was led by Tencent and Longfor Capital, followed by Meridian Capital.

This is the first time that Hefu Noodle has raised new capital this year. In July 2019, Hefu Noodle had received 215 million yuan in financing for its series C+ round.

As of the end of 2019, Hefu Noodle officially operates more than 200 restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Changzhou and other cities.

About Hefu Noodle
Hefu Noodle is a Chinese-style noodle chain restaurant brand established in 2012.