Language Confidence, a Sydney-based EdTech startup, which uses artificial intelligence to help people learn to speak English, has raised US$1.5 million (A$2.05m) in a seed round.
The funding round was led by Wavemaker Partners, one of Southeast Asia’s leading early-stage venture capital firms, with participation from Investible, a leading Australian early-stage investment group.
With the fresh capital, the company plans to expand its product range of AI-powered APIs and automated English tests, as well as building its already global customer base.
Founded in 2016 by Nicholas Jenkins and Swahn Fraye, Language Confidence offers an API (plugin) that ‘listens’ to students and can assess and correct their spoken English pronunciation with visual feedback. This API can be plugged into any digital platform and enhance spoken products’ engagement, retention and student’s learning. Its API product has attracted customers from the high-stakes test preparation, B2B and corporate English, general English, direct-to-consumer (app) and the learning-assisted (i.e. dyslexia) markets.
Language Confidence is on a mission to provide democratic and affordable access to quality language education for anyone, delivering automated teaching and testing of spoken English using AI technology.
Speaking about the company, Co-founder and CEO of Language Confidence, Nicholas Jenkins, said,
"There are 1.4 billion people spending US$60 billion trying to learn English, and there simply aren’t enough teachers to go around. I wanted to automate and scale what I was doing as a real human teacher with a focus on speaking. There is a huge opportunity to unlock universal access to the English language by leveraging artificial intelligence."
Jenkins further added:
"We offer our API on a per-student or per-usage basis, and our test at a per-test fee. We’re very excited about what the future holds, considering the customers we’ve secured and the interest we’re seeing in our technology. I believe in businesses that do something good for the world and build a large, sustainable business at the same time. Language Confidence is exactly that."
The startup also provides an automated English test, which is offered as a white-labeled platform to be used for a wide range of purposes, including mock high-stakes testing, placement testing, diagnostic testing for universities, schools, online platforms and even governments.
Commenting on the investment, General Partner of Wavemaker Partners Southeast Asia, Eric Manlunas, said,
"Nick is a three-time founder who experienced first-hand the pain points of teaching English, giving him unique insight into the space.With that insight, Language Confidence has built the best-in-class API-based product that’s loved by stakeholders across the board, from traditional universities to global edtech players. Even with a lean team, it has been able to compete against well-funded competitors and sign institutional clients, helping thousands of students learn and speak English as a result. We are incredibly excited to see how the Language Confidence team will revolutionize English learning globally."
In 2019, Language Confidence had secured $500,000 in a funding round from the angel investors Ron Sandler CBE, Herbie Dayal, Tony Ernest and Duncan Campbell.