Ukraine-founded language tutoring marketplace raises $35 million for “blitzscaling”

Last week Preply, an international language learning platform founded by three Ukrainian entrepreneurs, announced the completion of an impressive round of financing. 

No fewer than 13 investors were involved in this $35 million Series B round, led by Sillicon Valley VCs Full In Partners and Owl Ventures. The other investors are Point Nine Capital (Germany), Hoxton Ventures (UK), EduCapital (France), All Iron (Spain), Diligent Capital (Ukraine) and Evli Growth Partners (Finland), as well as such prominent angel investors as Niklas Ostberg (Delivery Hero), Arthur Kosten (, David Helgason (Unity Technologies), and Przemyslaw Gacek (Grupa Pracuj). 

Less than a year ago, Preply raised a 10$ million Series A round from Western European investors. 

Preply connects those learning a foreign language to online tutors, using machine learning to achieve the best match. Twenty four languages are covered — from English (more than 18,376 teachers), to Chinese (2,131 teachers), to Arabic (981 teachers), to Korean, Hebrew and even Urdu (373, 74 and 102, respectively, as of March 17).

“The technological core of the platform is its self-learning ranking algorithm that pushes the best tutors up on the list, meanwhile enabling ‘young stars’ – new tutors who don’t yet have students – to remain visible and be able to get new students,” co-founder Kirill Bigai told East-West Digital News in a previous interview.

“For each tutor, we measure how he or she can motivate the student, as well as their soft skills, methodology, punctuality and overall effectiveness, using each student’s assessment as separate metrics,” he added.

According to Bigai, the algorithm is fed data from detailed user reviews and the ratings system, while there is also a manual verification process for tutors. 

The company makes money by sharing revenues with the tutors. It takes 20% of each lesson fee (which ranges from $15 to $20 per hour) and 100% of the first lesson, as a remuneration for generating the lead.

Currently the company has some 250 employees, up from 125 one year ago. They work in two offices in Kyiv (Kiev) and Barcelona. Co-founder Dmytro Voloshin says the new funding will be used for “blitzscaling, a new office in the States, and moving to a new level in management, brand, culture.”

Specifically, Preply intends to “double its workforce globally,” improve support systems to “amplify the classroom and curriculum experience,” develop B2B activities, and “build a globally-recognized brand.”

Preply has raised $50.3 million in total since its inception in 2012, according to CrunchBase. It started its business in its native market, Ukraine, and Russian-speaking countries in the region. In 2015, Preply ventured beyond the former Soviet Union. The company went through the TechStars acceleration program in Berlin, and entered the Polish market with a localized version of its website. In 2016, the service was made available to Brazilian users.

In 2020, the startup significantly increased its activities in the US market, which now accounts for one-third of its revenues. 

Sources: AIN.UA, Business Insider, East-West Digital News, Medium

Topics: Education & training, Finance, International, Internet, Online services, Startups, Venture/Private equity
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