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Learning a new language is on top of the list for many people across the world, may it be for professional reasons, may it be for personal development. Yet, the task of acquiring language skills still is often tedious, frustrating, costly and lengthy.
Lingvist, an edtech startup from Estonia, is following a new adaptive and personalized approach to language learning based on data analytics and content stripped down to the relevant essentials.
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
Lingvist is an online tool that helps to learn languages faster and more effectively.
By analysing millions of bits of data (from news articles to film subtitles) to see how words are actually used we are able to offer a solution that helps to learn what is really useful.
Thanks to our algorithm, we can track the users progress and mistakes, and adapts lessons in real time to match their current level.
This provides a personalised experience, with an easy-to-use UI.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Lingvist was co-founded in 2013 by Mait Müntel, physicist involved with the team that identified the Higgs-Boson particle at CERN, Ott Jalakas and Andres Koern. Slightly later, they have been joined by Tanel Hiir.
Mait Müntel is in charge of product & methodology development, Ott Jalakas of business development and finance and Tanel Hiir is leading the software development team.
Want to join the Lingvist team? Here are current job openings:
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How was the idea for your startup born?
Lingvist’s story starts at the Hadron collider at CERN where our co-founder Mait Müntel was working. He’d been living in the French part of Switzerland for years but hadn’t managed to learn the local language. He didn’t have time to attend classes, but available e-solutions and language books didn’t give him the vocabulary he needed, and progress was slow.
So he decided to approach language learning like a mathematical challenge and build his own solution instead. After learning with a homemade prototype for 200 hours, he put himself to the test and took a high-school level French exam. He passed with a strong average score.
He then took the principles he had used to teach himself and started developing them for public software.
Who are your competitors? What sets you apart from them?
Although Babbel, Duolingo, Memrise and Busuu are our main competitors, our software is unique because of its mathematical approach.
By analysing immense quantities of text and data, Lingvist teaches contemporary vocabulary in a statistical ranking-based order.
The user’s progress, as well as any mistakes, is processed in the background, allowing Lingvist to provide the user with appropriate content based on his/her level of progress and memory patterns.
This approach assures an optimal learning time for each individual.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
Today, most of the language courses are based on hours of studying on textbooks full of irrelevant content and suboptimal repetition intervals, leading to important inefficiencies in language learning and practical application.
Lingvist is solving this major problem by a unique approach of teaching words in the order of relevance that they are used in a given language.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
We are currently offering French courses for English and Estonian speakers, and English courses for Estonian speakers. Soon, we will be adding English courses for French speakers.
We are active at an international level, and our major markets are currently English-speaking countries and Estonia.
Who is your target audience.
Lingvist is dedicated to beginners willing to learn a new language quickly and effectively, or to people who already have a certain level of knowledge of the language and want to start practicing again.
Our user acquisition goals are achieved by targeting motivated individuals (university students, professional expatriate communities, etc)
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
We are engaging with our target audience through social media, where we share and offer valuable content about language learning.
Our aim is to provide help and tips to our users, so they can easily and effectively apply and practice the skills learned with Lingvist.
To convert them into regular users, we focus on a quality on-boarding process when they first try Lingvist so they can quickly and easily see the benefits offered by our tool.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
Lingvist is currently available in public beta for free.
If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
We are proud of Lingvist’s development over the last two years, but some events will remain special.
In August 2013, we hired our first full time employee, and less than 1 year later we have been part of Techstars London 2014.
Last but not least, in November 2014, we officially launched Lingvist’s international public beta during Slush 2014 event.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
The next step is the release of the Lingvist mobile app, available on iOS and Android platforms.
At the same time, we are currently working on the addition of new languages to learn, while continuing to improving our tool to deliver the best learning experience possible.
As part of our marketing development, we also planning specific actions for a launch of our products in Ireland.
How can people get in touch with you.
People can easily get in touch by email, at email@example.com, or through social medias: