UK edtech Lingumi, the platform transforming how toddlers learn critical skills, has raised €4.5 million Series A funding 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.
Lingumi, founded in 2015, is a pre-school edtech company. Its interactive English 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.
Inspired by his work teaching English to children in Russia and Italy during his languages degree at Oxford University, founder, CEO and Lingumi teacher Toby Mather wanted to create a platform that gives children a strong, early foundation in English. Unlike other edtech language platforms aimed at school-age children, Lingumi’s first course helps introduce key English grammar and vocabulary from the age of 2.
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. Lingumi’s research also showed that children develop new skills through social learning – by watching and mirroring how others talk, act and behave – and this effect is amplified when the learning is delivered socially by their peers. At the end of each lesson, children can see videos of Lingumi friends speaking the same words and phrases as them.
The company has seen a surge in interest in the wake of the coronavirus. During China’s lockdown, Lingumi’s user base grew 50%, accelerating the trend the company had been seeing before the outbreak, in which education technology was shifting from a backup option to a primary choice for parents. Similarly, there has been a rapid uptake in Europe, and sign ups have now been made in 91 countries.
Its new Series A funding was led by China-based technology fund North Summit Capital, as well as existing investors LocalGlobe, ADV, and Entrepreneur First. Lingumi’s team of 16 is currently based in London, Cardiff, Shenzhen and Singapore, and they will use the new funding to expand their technology and marketing teams in all locations, as well as invest in its underlying technology.
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.”
“We’re excited to partner with a highly-strategic investor in Dr Min and the North Summit team,” said founder Toby Mather. “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.”