MyBuddy.ai, a virtual spoken English tutor for children, raised a $1 million seed investment from LETA Capital to meet sharp growth in demand for online education.
Venture capital firm LETA Capital invested $1 million in MyBuddy.ai, a San Francisco-based EdTech startup that has developed an innovative app whose AI-voice virtual tutor is teaching spoken English to children around the world.
MyBuddy.ai introduces a new way of how the generation of “digital natives” learns spoken English by offering them a virtual tutor in the form of a cartoon character — Buddy, the robot — powered by voice AI. By engaging the little users in dialogue and voice-based games, the cute teacher provides them with unlimited speaking practice and brings the efficiency of education to the next level. Buddy is solving one of the biggest problems in English as foreign language education — the acute deficit of qualified English teachers.
Over 500 million children around the globe are trying to learn English, but can’t reach fluency because they lack actual practice speaking the language. Buddy is serving a global audience of English learners, including immigrant children in the US, as well as English-learning kids in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The app’s user base grew tenfold over the last 12 months and has exceeded 20,000 paying students. Since its launch in March 2018, the app has been downloaded more than one million times and is regularly in TOP of the App Store and Google Plus in its Eastern European markets. The company also won the award for most innovative product in the world at the GESAwards 2019 (Global EdTech Startups Awards).
The timing of the company’s seed investment round is noteworthy. There is a growing demand for online education all over the world, and the current pandemic has further fueled this trend. With kids staying at home, both parents and teachers are now relying even more on online technologies.
MyBuddy.ai will use the investment for further development of the product and to launch it in new regions. Buddy’s next addition will be 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.
“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“ — commented Alex Chachava, the managing partner of the LETA Capital.
“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,”— says Ivan Crewkov, MyBuddy.ai co-founder and CEO.
Download the app here (iOS / Android) and check out Buddy the robot in action with a 1-minute demo video.
About LETA Capital
Venture capital firm LETA Capital (https://leta.vc) invests in breakthrough technologies using a data-driven approach to select the best startups. Focusing on the most promising markets, LETA Capital invests in B2B and B2C software developers. Priority sectors for the current active fund are corporate SaaS, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, robotics, and VR/AR. The current portfolio includes more than 20 companies.
The ideal investment targets for the LETA Capital ll Fund are companies created by Russian-speaking entrepreneurs that operate in global markets. These companies are innovative IT businesses that use the latest technologies to change traditional approaches in legacy industries at the late Seed, Series A, and early growth stages.
MyBuddy.ai (https://mybuddy.ai) is the developer of a voice-based AI English tutor for kids. The mobile app created by the company helps children practice their spoken English by conversing with a virtual AI-powered cartoon character — Buddy the robot. With its engaging virtual character, speech technology, and adaptive learning, Buddy is making speaking practice affordable for 500 million children around the globe by automating the mundane 80% of tutoring work at 2% of the cost. This enables teachers and parents to give kids unlimited speaking practice, essential for mastering English. In January 2020, MyBuddy.ai merged with the EdTech startup Edwin. Based in San Francisco, the company is backed by venture capital and has a global audience of over 20 thousand paying students.