When I started Chatterbug over three years ago, I had an idea for what I thought would be a better way to learn a language. I had tried everything on the market and believed that this was a problem that hadn’t been solved well yet. I thought that technology, curriculum and tutoring could be combined in new ways to make learning a new language faster, easier, more flexible and more effective.
Over the last three years, that idea has grown from just me cobbling together some tools and techniques to a company of 29 amazing people working on building a platform to enable hundreds of tutors to help thousands of students around the world learn to speak new languages in a real and effective way. That first year, we handled 77 live video lessons as we started building the system; last year we facilitated over 13,000 lessons and that rate is growing every week. We’re on track to do over 35,000 language lessons this year!
One of the most exciting things for me is validating that the system works so well for our students. We’ve watched hundreds of students make extraordinary progress, many going from barely any exposure to real fluency. In some cases, we have had students that have done this in several languages one after another.
Most of all, we’ve seen our students learn faster than with traditional language schools. On average it takes our students less than 60% of the time needed to advance from a CEFR level to the next (e.g. A1 to A2 etc) compared with in-person language school classes. This proves that our system not only works, it works better!
As the founder of a company, it’s an incredible feeling to be able to see your product work so well for so many. In many cases, it has really changed people’s lives, including my own. Learning German from scratch has opened and expanded my world to people and experiences I would never have had otherwise, as learning a new language does for so many people. We regularly hear inspiring stories from our students about how they have passed important language exams, gotten new job opportunities, or finally been able to communicate with their spouse’s family or their children’s teachers that speak a different language.
It’s time to look to the future
I believe that we’ve built the best language learning system in the world, but there is still so much more to do. We can still make it easier, more flexible, more fun and even more effective. We can reach hundreds of thousands of students of all ages and teach them dozens of languages. I am so proud of what we’ve built, and I’m incredibly excited to see how much better we can still make it.
This is why we’ve decided to invest more in this dream. This week, I’m thrilled to announce that Chatterbug is taking on a new $8 million USD Series A round of investment, financed by my cofounder Tom and myself. We believe that there is still so much more that can be done to help people learn to speak a new language effectively, and that Chatterbug’s future in realizing this dream is a huge opportunity.
First off, we want to invest in growth: hiring, growing our community, and building the Chatterbug brand - we want every student out there who wants to learn a language to have the opportunity to benefit from Chatterbug. Another critical investment area for us will be mobile, and bringing the features of our desktop classroom experience to mobile devices, as well as creating new learning activities specifically designed for times when students are on-the-go. And finally, we want to continue experimenting with cutting edge technologies and explore new methods for learning and teaching language, such as virtual reality and on-demand classes.
With this financing, we are investing in building the future of language learning and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
It’s going to be a fun ride.