San Francisco, Calif. – March 9, 2021 – Preply, a global edtech marketplace for tutor-based foreign language learning, today announced a Series B funding round of $35 million to support the continued demand for foreign language learning across the globe, 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.
The raise comes on the heels of an exceptional year for Preply with the number of active learners and tutors, GMV, and revenue quadrupling across the board. The hypergrowth can be attributed to the trend of e-learning adoption that has been accelerated by COVID-19 lockdowns, Preply’s AI-based matching efficiency that connects learners with ideal tutors, as well as its proprietary curriculum that incorporates interactive tools, such as AI voice recognition, across the entire learning journey. This motivates learners to stay engaged and continue on with their study sessions, resulting in a 16% increase in purchased lessons per student.
According to Technavio, the Online Language Learning Market is projected to reach USD 21.57 Billion by 2024. Preply is well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity as it already has a large global footprint, offering 50 different languages with 40,000 tutors, and students across 180 countries. Overall, Preply’s 2020 data about its American students reveals that 45% used the platform to improve their conversation skills, 25% for professional reasons, and 15% to prepare for an exam or job interviews.
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.”
The US has quickly become Preply’s largest market and represents nearly 30% of its global revenue. While the most popular languages being studied in the US are not surprising – 26% are studying Spanish, followed by English, French, Chinese, and Japanese – niche languages such as Icelandic, Tibetan, and Catalan are trending.
Additionally, language learners from 120 countries – the largest being Russia, Poland, Brazil, Germany, Italy, France, and Israel – are learning English from American tutors on Preply. However, not all American tutors are based in the US. Nearly 35% of Preply’s American tutors are teaching from other countries with Spain, Mexico, Italy, and Thailand being the most popular.
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.”
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-recognized 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”.
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