How Many Language Learning Startups Are There?


2014/05/27 by lingdecklee


So, how do (or should) you learn your new language nowadays? With the aid of internet technologies, the options should be abundant.

The language learning market is a multi-billion dollar opportunity. According to AngelList, there are at least 196 startups or companies related to the subject matter of ‘language learning startup‘. Some of the ones that popped up on the news are listed below for readers’ easy reference (in alphabetical order, but only limited to those that started from as early as 2007):

  • Babbel (2007): A free online interactive language learning system. Raised US$10 million in Series B funding in 2013.
  • Cambly (2012): Private language tutors on-demand over video chat.
  • Colingo (2011): Offer live, online, teacher-led group conversation classes, personalized training and private tutoring for English. Raised US$2.4 million in seed funding in 2013.
  • Daily Themes (2013): Let users practice 100 words on anything and receive feedback from expert reviewers on the quality of English writing.
  • Duolingo (2011): A free service that helps people learn languages with their friends while simultaneously contributing to translate real-world content from the web. Raised a total of US$38.3 million in venture funding so far, including from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Square Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.
  • EnglishCentral (2008): English learning using video content and speech recognition technology. Raised a total of US$7.9 million in venture funding so far, including from Google Ventures.
  • Fleex (2012): Learn English with the videos that will adapt the subtitles for your current language level.
  • Fluentify (2012): A webcam-based language learning marketplace. Raised US$410,000 in angel funding in 2014.
  • italki (2007): 1-on-1 online lessons from language teachers, with teachers setting their own prices and building reputations.
  • Lingvist (2013): The “adaptive” language learning software tracks the users’ language level to determine what should be learned next. Raised €1 million in seed funding in 2014.
  • (2011): Turn the internet into a language learning tool that combines an online dictionary with a personalized flashcard system. Raised US$500,000 in seed funding in 2013.
  • Linqapp (2012): The human-powered Google Translate – just snap a pic, post any question, and get answers from native speakers from around the world.
  • Livemocha (2007): One of the largest online language-learning communities in the world. Raised a total of US$19.4 million in venture funding before being acquired by Rosetta Stone for US$8.5 million in 2013.
  • MindSnacks (2010): A mobile game app that teaches people fundamental vocabulary, reading, writing and comprehension skills in their language of choice. Raised a total of US$7.7 million in venture funding so far, including from Sequoia Capital.
  • Memrise (2010): Make learning vocabulary fast, fun and effective by combining memory science and vibrant crowd-sourced content. Raised a total of US$6.3 million in venture funding so far.
  • PlaySay (2008): A mobile game app that connects language learners so they can have real conversations with pronunciation feedback. Raised a total of US$820,000 in venture funding before being acquired by Babbel in 2013.
  • Verbling (2011): Use online video technology to help people develop their language skills together with teachers and students on a global scale. Raised a total of US$1 million in seed funding.
  • Voxy (2010): Turn real-world conversations, activities, and media the users consume into contextual English language lessons. Raised a total of US$14.8 million in venture funding.

[The above list will be updated as and when necessary]


[Startup Event] If you are in Taiwan, join me at EST Speaker Night: Startups That Leverage On Language, on June 4th (Wednesday, 7pm), hosted by Entrepreneurs Society of Taiwan (EST). EST is a premier startup group which organizes monthly startup events for the English-speaking segment of the entrepreneurial community in Taiwan. You can join its Facebook group and/or Facebook fan page for future event updates.


3 thoughts on “How Many Language Learning Startups Are There?

  1. Hello Lingdlecklee,

    Great article! Is there a way that you can provide me with the information you have on the other 100+ startup companies?

    Kind Regards,
    Kelsei Thomas

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