YC-backed Blabla raises $1.5M to teach English through short videos – TechCrunch

Short, flashy, entertaining videos have become a common way for young people to get information. Why not learn English through videos like TikTok? This is what inspired Angelo Huang to launch Blabla.

Originally from Taiwan, Huang moved to Shanghai in 2019 to start Blabla after working in Silicon Valley for over a decade. A year later, Blabla was selected as part of Y Combinator’s 2020 Summer Cohort. At that time coronoviruses began to spread in America, keeping millions at home, and interest in distance education was reviving.

Huang, who founded two companies before Blabla, told TechCrunch during an interview, “This was my eighth time to apply for YC.

This week, Blabla announced that it has raised $ 1.54 million in a seed round led by Amino Capital, Starling Ventures, Y Combinator, and Wayra X, the innovation arm of Spanish telecom giant Telefónica. Y Combinator as the founder did not play a particularly important role in Blabla’s expansion into China – one of the largest English learning markets – the Famous Accelerator greatly helped introduce investors to the young company, the founder said.

The Blabla app pays native English speakers by the hour to create short, engaging videos to suit English-learning students worldwide. Content creators are assisted by software owned by Blebla that can identify and tag their visuals, as well as third-party translation tools that can subtitle their videos. Students, in turn, have to pay a membership fee to receive personalized video recommendations based on their level of proficiency. They can practice through the app’s built-in speech recognition, among other features such as speaking competitions and pop quizzes.

The startup is in a very crowded place. In China, the online English-learning market is dominated by established companies such as VIPKID, supported by Tencent and Sequoia Capital. Huang said, compared to VIPKID’s one-off tuition model, the Blabla is more affordable with a starting price of 39 yuan ($ 6) a month.

“students [on mainstream English learning apps] They may have to spend several thousands of RMB before they can have meaningful conversations with their teachers. We recycle our videos instead and are able to offer lessons at very cheap prices. “

The app currently has approximately 11,000 weekly users and 300–400 paid users, with 80–90% of the total users coming from China; This year’s goal is to reach 300,000 students. The funding will allow Blabla to expand into Southeast Asia and Latin America, while the Viara X could potentially help Telefonica’s scale of 340 million global users. It will be seeking brand deals with influential people on the likes of TikTok and Youtube. The new capital will also enable BlaBla to add new features, such as tying language learners based on their interests and profiles.

Blabla did not confine himself to teaching English and had ambitions to bring in teachers of other languages. “We want to become a global online payment knowledge platform,” Huang said.