Lingo Live is an online language learning platform where the instructors are natives, giving one the advantage of not only learning the language, but learning its subtleties as well, as only a native can understand – and share.
Founder Tyler Muse tells us more. A recent Austin, Texas transplant, he may be new to NYC, but he’s learning fast – and easily picking up the lingo.
Tell us about the decision to apply for ER Accelerator.
As a B2B language learning service, we applied to ERA for (i) mentors who can help us develop sophisticated enterprise sales processes for Fortune 500 companies with language training needs, and (ii) exposure to investors aligned with the core belief of our company: that multinational organizations shouldn’t sacrifice the convenience of a virtual product for the effectiveness of personalized language instruction.
Tell us about your service.
Lingo Live teaches employees of global organizations to speak a foreign language by connecting them with live, native professionals for 1:1 online instruction. Students are assessed, in real time, through our curriculum and the learning is tailored to the individual and/or organizational needs. We work with large multinationals, like Heineken and Facebook, as well as smaller startups and companies all over the world. Our extraordinary teachers, world-class assessment curriculum, and convenient technology platform create a unique and effective learning experience for each student.
Our service blends the convenience of an “anytime, anywhere” online solution with the effectiveness of a private tutor. Companies no longer have to choose between convenient “cookie cutter” software and expensive, inconvenient in-office tutors. Additionally, because all of our tutors are trained according to the same curriculum, organizations can standardize the instruction across their global divisions and view employee progress within the same assessment standards.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The global language learning market is widely recognized to be well over $100 billion. More specific to our area, the institutional language learning market is ~$5 billion worldwide. Most of the opportunity lies in English, but we are seeing increased interest in Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin. A supercomputer in everyone’s pocket certainly opens up more language barriers and miscommunication that only a real human can solve.
What is the business model?
Companies purchase a package of lessons either specifically for students or for their organization as a whole, which can be allocated to their employees as desired.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?
We plan to increase the frequency of lessons per week that each student is taking by 25% and improve the speed with which students progress through our curriculum according to the key metrics we maintain for language proficiency. We feel that both of these metrics get to the core of the service quality: the engagement of our users (former) and the effectiveness of the learning (latter).
From a sales standpoint, we aim to grow our English business to over 50% of our revenue and explore key partnerships with ancillary corporate services (i.e. translation, relocation… etc.). We aim to achieve top line revenue growth of >300% over the next 6 months through renewals as well as new clients.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York Area
I wish I knew the investor scene in NYC well enough to answer this. Obviously, this is a big area where we feel ERA can help us find the right strategic partners.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
Having moved here from Austin, it seems the stereotypes hold true (in a good way). Austin was a place where there was a lot of focus on B2B SaaS businesses and startups solving small, yet attractive niche problems through scrappy means. NYC seems to meet its reputation as being all about Product/Market fit and creating real businesses that disrupt large, well-understood markets as opposed to the Silicon Valley “conceptual ventures” that solve problems we didn’t even know existed (like my apparent desire to share 140-character thoughts with perfect strangers). The former definitely aligns better with what we’re trying to accomplish at Lingo Live.
How will being in NYC help your startup?
A lot of our customers are here. Berlitz’s language center in Rockefeller Center does more business than their entire Virtual Classroom product. Any time you can be closer to your customers and learn more about how they’re using your product and how it’s helping them to meet critical goals for their organization, you’re in a much better place. Also, there already seems to be plenty of individuals interested in helping us, either with their money or just with their related product expertise or both so it has been an eye-opening experience to say the least. Lastly, the talent pool within a 50-mile radius of our office is staggering. From sales to design to engineers, you have a much harder time eliminating potential candidates than you do identifying them.