Ukrainian edtech startup Preply raises €29.5M to prep its online language learning platform for recent growth

Ukrainian edtech startup Preply raises €29.5M to prep its online language learning platform for recent growth

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Ukrainian edtech startup, Preply, has raised an additional $35M (approx €29.5M) in funding in its Series B round, a sum that exceeds the platform’s cumulative fundraising efforts since 2013.

The investment follows right after the company’s recent increase in the number of active learners and tutors, GMV (Gross merchandise volume), and overall revenues grew four times across the board.

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Investors in the current round

The round was co-led by Owl Ventures and Full In Partners, with participation from existing investors Point Nine Capital, Hoxton Ventures, and All Iron. 

In addition, angel investors including Niklas Ostberg, co-founder & CEO of Delivery Hero; Arthur Kosten, co-founder of Booking.com; David Helgason, co-founder of Unity Technologies; and Gary Swart, former CEO of Upwork also participated in the current round.

Use of the funds

The company mentions in the press release that the raised capital will “help us tackle a variety of strategic priorities, as we plan to double our workforce across all divisions and locations.” 

With the company’s recent growth success, it is looking to invest and add more value for both students and tutors by improving support systems and amplifying the classroom and curriculum experience.

Kirill Bigai, CEO of Preply, says, “This round represents an exceptional achievement for the entire team following the exciting journey over the past years. We also have big plans to build out our B2B business, which we expect to become a much larger proportion of our revenues in the coming years.”

“As we secure our leading position in Western Europe and North America, we’ll be diversifying our media and marketing mix to build a globally-recognised brand. I’m personally most excited by the prospect of scaling in promising new markets to really deliver on our mission to shape the future of effective learning,” he further adds. 

What is Preply doing differently?

The company was founded in 2013 by the Ukrainian-based team of Kirill Bigai, Serge Lukyanov and Dmytro Voloshyn. Preply is an online learning platform that connects more than 40,000 bookable tutors teaching 50 languages to learners in 180 countries worldwide.

The company uses a machine-learning algorithm to increase the efficiency of pairing tutors with learners anywhere in the world, making smarter connections, and cracking the code of effective language learning.

For example, if you’re in London and you want to learn any new or foreign language, you can easily find a language expert at a time and price point that’s convenient for you. Most of the learners skip the live teaching as they prefer taking classes before or after work, meaning that there would only be a handful of slots or tutors available at that odd/particular time. This is what the edtech startup is working towards solving – the “rush hour challenge”.

The company has 250 employees of 36 different nationalities at offices in Kyiv and Barcelona.

Advantage for tutors?

The average price of a lesson on Preply is $15 (approx €13.60) to $20 (approx €18) per hour. For tutors, Preply has provided a 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.

Also, there’s an advantage to the tutors as through Preply, they are always paid straight after the lesson, meaning they never have to waste time chasing payment or risk of not being paid at all. 

Recent growth

The trend of e-learning adoption around the world already in motion, and now accelerated by COVID-19 lockdowns, Preply has seen 10 times increase in revenues over the last three years. 

The startup is combining its human-led approach with a proprietary curriculum product covering the full learning journey with AI-powered features. This technology has significantly increased the length of time each learner spends on the platform, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in purchased lessons per student.

About 50 per cent of the tutors teaching on Preply are those who live in a different country with Spain, France, Italy, Thailand and South Africa being popular places of residence. The most active UK tutor in 2020 taught 330 different students on the platform last year.

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