EdTech startup Preply raises $10M in funding to grow its online language learning platform
As life goes virtual for people all over the world, teachers and students globally have flocked to online language learning. Enter Preply, an edtech startup building a global human-to-human online tutoring marketplace with locations in Kyiv and Berlin. The company witnessed a record number of daily hours booked on the platform this week. The number of tutors registering on Preply has rocketed in regions such as the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Over the past seven days, some countries have seen the number of tutor registrations triple, compared to the same period in February, and the number of hours students are booking on the platform has doubled in many parts of the globe.
Today, the Kyiv, Ukraine-based Preply announced it has raised additional $10 million of funding to grow its network of 10,000 verified tutors teaching 50 languages to tens of thousands of students in 190 countries worldwide. The round, which doubles the total raised in the previous rounds, was led by London-based Hoxton Ventures, with participation from European investors Point Nine Capital, All Iron Ventures, The Family, EduCapital, and Diligent Capital. A number of individual angel investors also participated.
Founded in 2013 by the Ukrainian-based team of Kirill Bigai (CEO), Serge Lukyanov (Head of Design) and Dmytro Voloshyn (CTO), Preply now employs 125 staff of 25 nationalities in Kyiv and Barcelona with revenues having grown tenfold in the last three years. Preply’s pioneering innovation was to use machine-learning to increase the efficiency of pairing tutors with learners, wherever they are in the world, making smarter connections and cracking the code of effective language learning.
To date, two million classes have been taken with teachers of 160 nationalities. The vast majority of learners are using Preply for professional purposes such as moving abroad or to advance their careers. Others are using it recreationally – helping their child learn a new language, for example, or indulging a passion to master a new skill. Through Preply, the unparalleled global supply of tutors means that if you’re in Berlin, for example, and want to learn Japanese, you can easily find a language expert at a time and price point that’s convenient for you. This solves the ‘rush hour challenge’ that occurs with live teaching; most learners prefer taking classes before or after work which means that there are limited number of slots or tutors available.
The average price of a lesson on Preply is $15 to $20 per hour. For tutors, Preply has provided a uniquely flexible and secure way to generate income while no longer being limited by locale. With no need to host students at home, or waste time travelling, tutors can operate at maximum efficiency from anywhere in the world.
As education moves increasingly online, many of our tutors report having honed a new suite of skills, including relying less on body language and adjusting fully to making a human connection online, rather than in-person. From a payment perspective, one definitive advantage of the platform for tutors is that they are always paid straight after the lesson, never having to waste time chasing payment or risk not being paid at all. Students enter their bank account details when they register and tutors can take money out of their Preply account at any time. All earnings are broken down in a comprehensive personal performance dashboard so tutors can analyse their business in a meaningful way.
Using the new funding, the company plans to scale the marketplace, mainly in North America, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. There are plans to roll out an array of new tools, assessments and homework. Using Preply’s wealth of data-learnings, tutors will be able to smart-track progress and help learners achieve their goals most quickly and comprehensively. Preply wants to engage and enable tutors to develop alongside the platform, giving them the opportunity to explore training and lessons plans so they can streamline their income and maximize their classes. The new funding will also give Preply the opportunity to develop its mobile offering, streamlining the Android and iOS app to make it more efficient and user-friendly. In addition, the company aims to deepen roots in the U.S. and open an American office by the end of the year. Preply’s European genesis and global tutor supply plays a significant role in its ability to compete in this strategic region.
Kirill Bigai, CEO of Preply, comments on the company’s ambitions, “The new funding allows us to bring a more in-depth, immersive and convenient experience to both tutors and learners all over the world. Today, we are laser focused on language learning, but ultimately, I envision a future where anyone can learn anything using Preply.”
Rob Kniaz of Hoxton Ventures, comments “Getting to know Kirill and the team at Preply we were most impressed with their tremendous growth already in the US market as well as the size of the global market in online language tutoring. We believe the team has vast opportunity ahead of it, especially in the English-learning segment of the market where Preply already demonstrates market leadership.”