Lingokids Lands $4 Million—and a Partnership With Oxford University Press


Lingokids Lands $4 Million—and a Partnership With Oxford University Press

By Tony Wan     Jun 20, 2017

Lingokids Lands $4 Million—and a Partnership With Oxford University Press

If there’s one market that continues to attract entrepreneurial interest and venture capital, it’s the demand for language acquisition. The latest beneficiary is Lingokids, the developer of an app that aims to help young children pick up a new tongue.

Based in Madrid and San Francisco, the startup has raised $4 million in a seed round from Holtzbrinck Ventures and JME Capital, with Bessemer Venture Partners also participating. On top of an earlier $1.5 million fundraise, the company now boasts $5.5 million in institutional backing.

Designed for children ages 2 to 6, Lingokids, the company’s flagship app, currently offers 350 activities in the form of mini-games, videos, audiobooks and writing exercises covering English and Chinese. Any registered user can do a maximum of five learning activities per day for free. A “premium” plan that removes this cap starts at $24.99 per month.

This February, the company added another tier to its subscription plan: a tutoring service where children can interact with a native English speaker in a small group setting in 25-minute sessions. This offering starts with a free class where a teacher evaluates a learner’s skill level to determine placement and matching. This plan, which includes unlimited access to Lingokids content, currently costs $60 per month for unlimited classes. So far “hundreds” of families have signed up for this service, according to Cristobal Viedma, the company’s CEO.

Viedma tells EdSurge this feature was partly inspired by VIPKID, a Chinese startup that connects children with English-speaking tutors from around the world.

The company claims users in two million families, of which roughly 20,000 are paying subscribers, Viedma adds.

In addition to VIPKID, Viedma says he’s also closely watching how Age of Learning, developer of the ABCmouse line of early educational apps, is expanding from the parent market and into schools. (The Glendale, Calif.-based company launched ABCmouse for Schools last year—nine years after its founding.)

To get into schools, Lingokids is turning to a publisher for help. The company notched a distribution relationship with Oxford University Press (OUP) through which it will include a Lingokids code on the back cover of the books it sells to schools. Using this code, students can download Lingokids and access the book’s content in digital form, on the app.

Partnerships such as these have been key to filling Lingokids’ library of activities. In addition to helping with distribution efforts, OUP provides roughly 20 percent of all of the content, Viedma adds. The company, which itself only makes 20 percent of the content, is working with nine other publisher partners.

The company also has a deal with Vodafone in Spain through which the telecommunications provider promotes the language learning app through their marketing channels. Vodafone subscribers can also pay for a Lingokids subscription directly through their phone bill, rather than pay separately.

Between Age of Learning and VIPKID—both of whom have raised more than $100 million in venture money—Lingokids may feel outmatched. Yet the former has cornered the U.S. and East Asian market, and VIPKID has China covered, Viedma says “we’re pushing hard in Latin America and Southeast Asia.” North America, he adds, currently provides just 18 percent of his users. Many more come from Brazil and Thailand.

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