Preply, a tutoring marketplace for language learning, has raised a $35 million Series B co-led by Full In Partners and Owl Ventures, an edtech fund that has backed Byju’s and Newsela. The raise comes nearly a year after the company landed a $10 million Series A. Investors in Preply include Point Nine Capital, Hoxton Ventures, EduCapital, All Iron, Diligent Capital and Evli Growth Partners.
Preply’s recent growth, as well as a global boom in language learning, explains the current investor interest.
When it closed its Series A, Preply had 2 million booked lessons and 10,000 vetted tutors. One year later, there have been over 10 million lessons booked on the platform, and the tutor network has grown to 40,000 people across 190 countries. The startup was eyeing United States expansion in 2020, and today, ⅓ of its revenue comes from the country, making it the single largest market that the company has customers in.
The growth signals that Preply is finding traction despite heavyweight competitors such as Duolingo, which plans to IPO this year, and Babbel, which crossed $150 million in recognized revenue in 2019. Biglai says it’s been able to differentiate itself from others because of its technology, which uses artificial intelligence to connect students with tutors.
Preply’s sell is that it can connect students to the tutors that are best for their specific learning needs, weighing over 400 parameters before connecting two within a marketplace. For example, Biglai said that Preply can connect a student in San Francisco who likes studying in evenings with a tutor in a conducive timezone. It can also help students find tutors who have similar backgrounds than them, such as a bi-lingual base to help go in between languages for learning.
Preply’s largest difference from competitors is in its philosophy of how learning should be done. Preply believes that learning should be live and with a native speaker, while a company like Duolingo thinks it can be gamified and self-led.