i2istudy EDUKWEST Startup Profile

Startup Profile: i2istudy

One of the biggest problems for language learners at any stage is to find people to practice their conversational skills with. Language exchange is probably one of the most popular methods but as I wrote back in the days, it’s complicated.

i2istudy aims to provide language learners and teachers with a platform that does most of the heavy lifting by providing them with interactive content and ideas to work on.

Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

i2istudy is an international online community, where people teach and learn foreign languages. On i2istudy anyone can be both a student and a teacher. It is an easy and effective way to speak a foreign language with a native speaker.

Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

i2istudy team

The founders are Ilya Osipov, Anna Prasikova and Vadim Grishin. Before i2istudy.com we worked together on a different IT project.

Ilya Osipov
CEO (IT entrepreneur)

Anna Prasikova
CIO (linguist)

Vadim Grishin
CTO (programmer)

How was the idea for your startup born?

The project started in 2014. The founders of the project are a group of linguists, programmers and entrepreneurs experienced in creating large Internet projects. We noticed that the most effective way of teaching is when a person studies face to face with another person, and, unlike math, for instance, almost every person in the world has a perfect command of their native language, or at least its conversational part. We realized that the native language is a precious knowledge that can be an object of exchange. By teaching your native language you can take lessons in a foreign language in exchange for free.

However, the difficulty is that sometimes there is nothing to talk about even in your native language and with a person you already know. Now two unacquainted people are able to talk for a long time in a foreign language, teaching each other at the same time!

Besides, it’s one thing to speak a language, but teaching it to someone else is another!

We created a new model of online studying, which had not existed before i2istudy:

  • studying face to face with a system of slides
  • according to the principle of time banking
  • free, simple, on the spot

What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

«I understand how I can learn a foreign language. But how am I going to teach? I don’t know what to do!» – that’s the most common question that we get from people.

We help people to find interlocutors for language practice and solve their contact problem – created the special connection platform, time banking, gave all training materials for the dialogue.

There’s no need to be a professional teacher on i2istudy! You get dialogues that have been prepared for you, along with games, pictures and films. The teacher doesn’t have to prepare for a lesson, only read the assignment and add your personal touch to it. That’s why anyone who speaks a language freely can teach it!

Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?

The main competitor is www.italki.com. They use Skype for communication.

Our advantage is that we have audio and video integrated into the system, a platform for dialogue with educational materials and Time Banking.

In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

At the moment English, Russian, German and Spanish are in the system. Our regions are all countries who speak these languages.

We plan to add French and other European languages as well as extending the service to the Asian market. Right now we already have a few lessons in Chinese.

Who is your target audience.

They are people whose occupation requires them to spend much time in front of a computer.

They are those who want to brush up their knowledge of a foreign language but don’t have an opportunity to visit a tutor or have one come to their place and overpay for that.

They are people who want to study whenever they have free time – at a lunch break, while the baby is sleeping, simply when they have a free evening.

They are those who would love to talk to native speakers but don’t have foreign friends.

Those who don’t want to slave over textbooks and do homework on their own, but simply communicate in a foreign language without concentrating on grammar.

How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

We actively use Time Banking and Gamification in i2istudy. We motivate our users to invite their friends for sharing their native language and learning foreign languages. Each invited user receives bonuses from our system.

What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

We have two kinds of study options: for free and for money.

FOR FREE – If you teach your native language and then you learn some different language. It`s like a barter. You share your language with each other, not using your money, but your time and knowledge as a currency.

FOR MONEY – If you don’t want to teach somebody, then you pay money for learning.

Some people say «I don’t have time to teach, but I want to learn myself!» or «I don’t need to learn a foreign language, English is more than enough for me». If you don’t have the time to do both, you can teach and earn money from those who want to learn with you. In this case, users pay or, respectively, get money for their services. You can pay and or withdraw money on i2istudy.

OUR BUSINESS MODEL: We take a commission of 15 percent from paid study.

If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.

We raised $ 300K from private investors.

Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

At the moment we are especially proud of the fact that users invite each other and we observe the viral growth of our user base.

What are the next steps in growing your startup.

Next milestones for us are growing the user base to a few million users and add more languages to the platform.

How can people get in touch with you.

For communication purposes with our users we use the feedback form in i2istudy, we use groups in social networks. We teach and learn in i2istudy with our users as well!

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.