San Francisco-based MyBuddy.ai, a virtual spoken English tutor for children, has raised a $1 million seed funding from venture capital firm LETA Capital to provide easy English learning to children around the world.
Launched in 2018, MyBuddy.ai introduces a new way of how this generation of ‘digital natives’ learns spoken English by offering them a virtual tutor in the form of a cartoon character. The app helps children practice their spoken English by conversing with a virtual AI-powered cartoon character called Buddy. By engaging the users in dialogue and voice-based games, the Buddy provides them with unlimited speaking practice and brings the efficiency of English learning to the next level. MyBuddy.ai is solving one of the biggest problems in English as foreign language education – the acute deficit of qualified English teachers.
With its engaging virtual character, speech technology, and adaptive learning, MyBuddy.ai is making speaking practice affordable for children around the world by automating the mundane 80% of tutoring work at 2% of the cost. The platform is serving global audience of English learners, including immigrant children in the US, as well as English-learning kids in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Since its launch in March 2018, the app has been downloaded more than one million times. It currently has a global audience of over 20,000 paying students.
Talking about the company and the increased demand for online education due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ivan Crewkov, Co-founder and CEO, MyBuddy.ai, said,
“The demand for online education is rising sharply due to the pandemic. This has exacerbated the chronic shortage of qualified English language teachers needed for half a billion kids struggling to learn English as a second language. Our AI-powered tutor Buddy can handle the mundane part of their work. He provides unlimited practice of spoken English, can scale to millions of students, and is always available. Just as chatbots, robotics process automation, and robo-advisors are changing other industries, AI technologies are transforming the educational industry, allowing teachers to focus on more creative and exciting tasks.”
The startup plans to use the investment for further development of the product and to launch it in new regions. Its next plan is to launch a free mini-course about health that teaches kids spoken English while at the same time providing essential knowledge about how to stay healthy and prevent diseases.
Commenting on the investment, Alex Chachava, Managing Partner of LETA Capital, said,
“I’ve heard many times from educators and experts that it’s impossible to create a completely virtual teacher. But we prefer to invest in companies that are making the impossible possible and disrupting the global education industry by offering innovative approaches that appeal to the young digital generation. We were also impressed by the fact that MyBuddy.ai is one of the very few companies that managed to build a sustainable B2C-business around virtual voice assistant technology powered by AI/ML.”
Meanwhile, MyBuddy.ai’s seed funding comes at a time when there is an unprecedented growing demand for online education all over the world due to coronavirus pandemic. With schools remaining closed and kids staying at home, both parents and teachers are now relying even more on online technologies for education of their children.