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Language learning marketplace Preply has raised $35 million in new funding, led by Silicon Valley investors Owl Capital and New York investors Full In Partners.
Preply, based in Kiev and Barcelona and founded in 2013, offers private language tuition online to paying students and is popular primarily with expats and foreign students.
CEO Kirill Bigai says that Preply has, like other online education platforms, benefited from increased take-up during the pandemic.
“2020 was a turning point in our growth,” Bigai told Insider over email. He added that the firm had lured new customers with the help of an earlier $10 million raise, and that lockdowns had supercharged the uptake of digital learning.
“We were initially not planning to raise that soon but the momentum is so strong that we did what was necessary to increase the acceleration of Preply’s adoption among language learners around the world,” Bigai added.
The US is Preply’s biggest market, with the majority of US learners taking up Spanish and English. French, Chinese, and Japanese are also popular with students. The startup says it has seen a rise in demand for more niche languages such as Icelandic, Catalan, and Tibetan.
The company doesn’t disclose user numbers, but says its active paying learners are in the hundreds of thousands. The firm says it has around 40,000 tutors on its platform, who have given nearly 10 million lessons across 50 languages. It has 250 employees.
“The next 12 to 24 months will be about doubling down on our core markets and activities: North America and Western Europe while exploring new territories like Asia, the Middle East, as well as growing our B2B business,” Bigai said. The startup also wants to bring more tutors onto its platform, and improve its curriculum.
Preply’s funding round also involved previous backers Point Nine Capital, Hoxton Ventures, plus angels including Delivery Hero CEO Niklas Ostberg, Booking.com cofounder Arthur Kosten, and Unity cofounder David Helgason.
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