Learning a new language is difficult. Even with all of the popular apps and software to help you become bilingual, nothing can substitute exposure to a native speaker. For this reason, Lexody has put together an educational service that matches you with native speakers to have conversations at your convenience to help build your foreign language skills. With all of the research demonstrating the benefits of bilingualism, this is one of the easiest and effective ways to learn that foreign tongue and it’s free for one language and only $5 per month for unlimited languages.
AlleyWatch chatted with Lexody’s CEO and founder Walsh Costigan about the company and its growing popularity.
Tell us about the product or service.
Lexody is a networking/matchmaking platform for language learners. Instead of learning a language by yourself, you can now grab a coffee and have a conversation with a native speaker!
Let’s say you’re an English speaker learning Spanish. You can meet up with a Spanish speaker learning English. For 30 minutes, you only speak in Spanish, and then for 30 minutes only in English. This allows both to fully immerse.
How is it different?
There are currently a large number of solutions for beginning to learn a language, and memorize basic vocabulary and grammar. Familiar examples of these services are DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, and MindSnacks. Unfortunately, there are not really any offerings to get beyond the basics. Most people feel completely uncomfortable speaking a foreign language, because they have only learned basic reading and writing.
Lexody makes learning a language a social activity, with the goal of conversational fluency.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Lexody addresses the massive industry of language learning. For a good estimate of the potential size, DuoLingo totes 120 million users. Our top market segments are: Expatriates, College Students, Travelers, Language Enthousiastes, and International Business Professionals.
We do not target any language in particular, but 17% of our users are Spanish speakers learning English. The second largest demographic are English speakers learning Spanish at 12%.
What is the business model?
Lexody is free for one language, and if you want to learn multiple languages, it is only $5/month for unlimited languages.
In the near future we will be turning a revenue from the suggested meeting places, where we are sending people to Lex (language exchange).
What inspired the business?
I’m a language enthousiaste, and majored in French in college. After returning from living in Paris, I was completely fluent in French> Unfortunately, I had no one to speak with, and started losing it very quickly. I paid a girl $10/hour to hangout with me, but it didn’t last long with my college-student budget.
I looked for a free place to find other people like me, to just hang out and speak French with. Surprisingly, I could not find this, so I started a Language Exchange program at my University, and ran it for 3 years, just so I could find someone to speak French with. After seeing how many people signed up each semester, I knew that there is a need.
I moved to NYC, found a job in BizDev for another rapidly growing startup, and simultaneously taught myself how to program (RoR for the win!). After over 2 years as a hustler, and becoming a very accomplished programmer, I quit my job to launch Lexody in September of 2016.
What are your predictions for the NYC startup ecosystem in 2017?
Prediction for top startup trends:
- Online connections that turn into offline experiences.
- Subscription-based services.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
- Although we soft launched Dec 2nd, our official launch party is March 4th.
- We have been invited to pitch at SXSW 2017’s pitch accelerator, as an alternate.
- Lexody is currently fundraising, and will have a round closed in the next 6 months.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I love meeting other powerful female entrepreneurs. When I first moved to NYC 3 years ago, I was obsessed with what the Alexis at Gilt had done with the high-end fashion industry during a recession.
Why did you launch in New York?
The incredible people in this city are so inspiring, and you’re constantly mingling with intelligent, passionate, and incredibly ambitious minds. It keeps me driven and focused.
For Lexody specifically, NYC has such a diverse population, it is the perfect city to prove the concept of any site that depends on a large network of users who are in a close geographical location.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Bushwick Livingroom (in Bushwick). It’s impossible to get a bad meal there.
I also enjoy Hane Sushi — 2 for 1 bottles of wine…. you can’t go wrong!