Barcelona and Kyiv-based Preply raises €29.4 million to grow its online language learning platform

Preply Co-founders: Serge Lukyanov (Head of Design), Dmytro Voloshyn (CTO) and Kirill Bigai (CEO)

Today edtech marketplace, Preply, has announced securing an additional approx. 29.4 million of funding, a sum that exceeds the platform’s cumulative fundraising efforts since 2013. The round was co-led by Owl Ventures and Full In Partners, with participation from previous investors Point Nine Capital, Hoxton Ventures and All Iron. Angel investors Niklas Ostberg, co-founder and CEO of Delivery Hero, Arthur Kosten, co-founder of Booking.com, David Helgason, co-founder of Unity Technologies and Gary Swart, former CEO of Upwork are also participants.

Preply is an online learning platform connecting more than 40,000 bookable tutors teaching 50 languages to hundreds of thousands of learners in 180 countries worldwide. With student-tutor matches being suggested through a machine-learning algorithm, recommended tutors create customised lesson plans to suit the learner’s budget, schedule, and current knowledge. Each day, tens of thousands of students take classes from teachers of 160 nationalities. Preply was founded in 2013 by the Ukrainian-based team of Kirill Bigai, Serge Lukyanov and Dmytro Voloshyn. The company has 250 employees of 36 different nationalities at offices in Kyiv and Barcelona.

This Series B announcement comes on the heels of an exceptional year for Preply with the number of active learners and tutors, GMV and overall revenues quadrupling across the board. In part, the hypergrowth can be attributed to the trend of e-learning adoption, already in motion and now accelerated by COVID-19 lockdowns. Their performance gains also correlate with how Preply is combining it’s human-led approach with a proprietary curriculum product covering the full learning journey with AI powered features.  This technology has significantly increased the length of time each learner spends on the platform, resulting in a 16% increase in purchased lessons per student.

The UK is Preply’s biggest European market and is one of the leading European economies with a high interest in language learning. 20% of those learners are studying Spanish, followed by English, French, Arabic and Italian. English remains the second most popular language of study in the UK; a demand generated by relocators, expats and foreign students in-market. Beyond those popular languages, we also have students learning sign language and Latin. British learners are using the platform primarily as a way to improve their conversation skills (50%), as well as for professional development (20%) and to prepare for a relocation abroad (13%).

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 added: “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.”