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Edtech startup Lingumi raises £4m

Following the successful launch of its English course for pre-schoolers, Lingumi – the platform transforming how toddlers learn critical skills – has raised £4million to continue developing the world’s best teaching experience.

It is also announcing the launch of daily free activity packs and videos for children and families, to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak, and has pledged to donate 20% of its sales during this period to the Global Children’s Fund.

Led by China-based technology fund North Summit Capital – a fund run by Alibaba’s former Chief Data Scientist Dr Min Wanli – the Series A investment will be used to further develop the company’s core technology and expand the team globally.

Joining the round were existing investors LocalGlobe, ADV, and Entrepreneur First.

Lingumi’s interactive courses offer the benefits of one-to-one tutoring with the impact of social learning. The key difference is in the technology; Lingumi is 95% cheaper than live courses, and more flexible, allowing parents and children to learn at their own pace. Data also shows that children learn vocabulary up to six times faster via Lingumi’s platform compared to in-person, pre-school courses.

Instead of tuning into live lessons with tutors, which are typically timetabled and expensive, Lingumi’s lessons are delivered through interactive speaking tasks, teacher videos, and games.

The platform is now being used by more than 100,000 families globally, including in mainland China, Taiwan, UK, Germany, Italy, and France.

More than 1.5 million English lessons have taken place in China over the past six months alone, and 40% of active users are also playing lessons daily.

“We’re excited to partner with a highly-strategic investor in Dr Min and the North Summit team,” said Toby. “Lingumi’s rapid expansion in the Chinese market required a strategic local investor, and Dr Min and the team had a clear-sighted understanding of the technology and scale opportunity both in China, and globally.”

Michael O’Sullivan, a senior advisor to the company and former CEO of Cambridge Assessment and the British Council, said: “Helping pre-school children to start learning English is not simple. It requires well-designed methods based on scientific research into how very young children learn.

“Lingumi brings up-to-date understanding of early language learning to its learning tool, making a great start in English affordable for all families.”

Dr Wanli Min, General Partner at North Summit Capital, commented: “It is only the most privileged children who can access native English speakers for one-on-one tutoring.  Yet we believe all kids deserve equal access to quality education, and English learning is no exception.

“Lingumi has the potential to democratise English learning and offer every kid a personalised curriculum empowered by AI & Lingumi’s ‘asynchronous teaching model.”