The online learning trend is likely to stay here! Besides the pandemic, various factors including, flexibility, affordability, and accessibility, encourages wider adoption of e-learning.
The rise in consumer demand has resulted in a slew of companies offering their online course enabling participants to learn new skills with tutors.
Recently, Preply has secured $35 million (approx £25.2 million) funding as part of a Series B funding round. The company raises funding as e-learning adoption in the UK and throughout Europe surges following COVID lockdowns.
Who backed Preply?
The round was co-led by Owl Ventures and Full In Partners, with participation from previous investors Point Nine Capital, Hoxton Ventures, as well as EduCapital, All Iron, Diligent Capital, and Evli Growth Partners. Angel investors Niklas Ostberg, co-founder and CEO of Delivery Hero, Arthur Kosten, co-founder of Booking.com, Przemyslaw Gacek, co-founder of Grupa Pracuj, and David Helgason, co-founder of Unity Technologies are also participants.
Online learning platform
Founded in 2013 by the Ukrainian-based team of Kirill Bigai, Serge Lukyanov, and Dmytro Voloshyn, Preply is an online learning platform connecting more than 40,000 tutors teaching 50 languages to hundreds of thousands of learners in 180 countries worldwide.
The student-tutor matches are suggested through a machine-learning algorithm. The platform enables tutors to create customised lesson plans to suit the learner’s budget, schedule, and current knowledge.
As per the company’s claims, each day, tens of thousands of students take classes from teachers of 160 nationalities. Also, the company’s overall revenue quadrupled last year due to the high demand and number of active learners and tutors, GMV.
Preply and its UK connection
According to Preply, the UK is its biggest European market and is one of the leading European economies with a high interest in language learning.
Preply says around 20% of those learners are studying Spanish, followed by English, French, Arabic, and Italian.
Also, English remains the second most popular language of study in the UK. Beyond this, students also sign up for learning sign language and Latin.
British learners use the platform to improve their conversation skills (50%), professional development (20%), and prepare for a relocation abroad (13%).
Notably, most of the tutors are UK-born on Preply, however, 50% of those tutors live in a different country with Spain, France, Italy, Thailand, and South Africa. The most active UK tutor in 2020 taught 330 different students on the platform last year.
Kirill Bigai, CEO of Preply, said, “This round represents an exceptional achievement for the entire team following the exciting journey over the past years. This new funding will help us tackle a variety of strategic priorities, as we plan to double our workforce across all divisions and locations. We’ll add more value for both students and tutors by improving support systems and amplifying the classroom and curriculum experience which has proved so valuable already.”
Bigai adds, “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”.
Ross Darwin, Principal of Owl Ventures, said, “As a firm dedicated to scaling transformative education companies, we are highly optimistic about the online language learning market which is estimated to be worth over USD 21 billion by 2024. We couldn’t be more excited to invest in Preply and are confident that they’ll capture a big piece of that pie”.
Jessica Davis, co-founder and Managing Director at Full In Partners, commented, “We were impressed with Preply’s differentiated and highly scalable model for language learning. We have spent a decade investing in edtech and marketplace businesses and Preply really stands out for its strong leadership, high-velocity growth, and greenfield market opportunity.”