EWA, which faucets into fashionable media to show languages, hits 51M downloads and three.5M MAUs and raises its first exterior funding – TechCrunch
On-line language studying continues to be an enormous alternative for startups, with essentially the most partaking experiences assembly a surge of curiosity from customers on the lookout for extra productiveness out of the hours that they spend on their smartphones. In one of many newer developments, a language studying app referred to as EWA — which has constructed a media-based method to language acquisition, with excerpts from movies and TV, and books, to familiarize learners with vocabulary and talking — has handed 51 million downloads and picked up 3.5 million month-to-month energetic customers, and now it has raised $2.7 million in its first exterior funding.
EWA — pronounced “E-vah”, says co-founder and CEO Max Korneev — has been bootstrapped since being based in 2018, and it’s been doing properly by itself steam, with a present annual income run price of $32.4 million, based mostly on charging individuals alongside three tiers of utilization. (The “freemium” a part of the app is a three-day trial, nevertheless it additionally has an intensive presence on different social media channels like TikTok and Instagram, the place it’s primarily a content material creator, with collectively tens of millions of customers studying languages informally from its posts. EWA English alone has greater than 5 million followers.)
Korneev mentioned the startup is now turning to exterior funding now each to satisfy the expansion calls for it’s now going through because it scales, and likewise to rent extra engineers to construct out options that it has lengthy wished to have within the app, together with extra social components, gamification hooks, and a wider set of languages, with the present checklist spanning English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.
The seed spherical consists of participation from Day One Ventures, Elysium and angels, founders and executives from Semrush, Zynga, Niantic and Zynga. And from what we perceive, EWA is already engaged on its Sequence A, a $30 million spherical that will probably be elevating at a $150 million valuation, with Softbank among the many VCs speaking to the startup. (I’ve reached out to Softbank for remark; Korneev declined to remark.)
Duolingo, which is now publicly traded with a market cap immediately of about $3.4 billion, has stolen a march on the web language studying market partially by making its app very sticky: customers log in day by day to continue learning streaks going and to remain on the prime of their leagues, and so they hyperlink up with individuals on the app that they may additionally know in the actual world, tapping into pure competitiveness and turning that into routine conduct.
EWA’s distinctive promoting level so far has been the way it has harnessed the huge world of on-line media in assist of its objective. Customers of the app have choices to study by studying well-known books, or excerpts from fashionable movies and TV — the thought being that their familiarity with plot traces will give them a head begin in making out what persons are saying. It then bolsters that information with phrase video games.
The method appealed to me personally as a result of it jogged my memory of how my household and I realized English after we first got here to the U.S. from Russia. (And no, the coincidence that Korneev can be Russian was not misplaced on me.) Korneev mentioned that this was an intentional selection the corporate made to attempt one thing totally different and extra attuned to our trendy instances to usher in a distinct type of language learner.
“In the event you have a look at the self-education apps area, loads of them copy the dynamics of a classroom, and extra particularly previous methologies, however these are simply not efficient anymore,” he mentioned, declaring that Duolingo’s personal analysis has discovered that on common lower than 1% of individuals ever end a web-based language course. “Individuals wish to be entertained. So after we ask our customers, why do you utilize EWA, they reply, as a result of it’s entertaining. We mix that leisure with schooling.”
It appears that evidently my household isn’t the one one which took the “native media” method to studying languages: this was additionally how Korneev realized totally different languages whereas working in IT.
“A variety of startups are born out of ache, and that is how EWA began, too,” he mentioned. “I ended up watching movies with subtitles and studying books with vocabulary on the aspect,” he mentioned. “I noticed that others had been doing this, too, and it was serving to them transfer ahead with a language.” He was taken sufficient with the concept that he give up his job in IT to see if he may flip his personal language studying method right into a enterprise. He teamed up with different co-founders Stepan Nikitin, Anton Aleshkevich, and Stas Morozov, and thus EWA was born.
The startup has a mass of builders based mostly out of Russia however EWA itself is formally based mostly in Singapore — one thing that Korneev mentioned was very a lot intentional as a result of it’s onerous in the intervening time (understandably) for Russian startups to lift cash from western buyers. Korneev, consistent with this second in time and the Covid pandemic that has modified how many people work, describes the group as a distant workforce, with he himself splitting time between Singapore, Budapest and Barcelona.