When Languagelab broke the news on their $1 million funding it was not only great news for the team and more importantly the business idea and I’m very happy for them but besides I was also very interesting in hearing how that took part.
Well, what easier could you do but simply ask and Shiv, the Director of Operations at Languaglab was so kind and shares some of his experiences and insights with us in this EDUKWEST.
At the beginning of our interview we talk a bit the way they had to take and the time it took Shiv to raise the round compared to what we see is happening currently in the US.
In the next part we talk about the areas the money will be invested in, specifically in team and also new products for English City as Shiv explains. He goes on talking about interesting new markets and customer groups such as more frequent requests from the corporate world and gives some examples why this is actually interesting for businesses and what LanguageLab are developing to serve those clients best.
I can only recommend to watch the interview if you are or at least think of raising money in Europe and particularly in the UK and are also interested about ESL teaching and learning concepts that take place in a virtual environment.
1. EDUKWEST #56 with Shiv Rajendran of Languagelab
The team at Languagelab recently closed a $1 million seed funding round. The money will be used to rapidly develop the virtual learning campus called English City, based on the popular platform Second Life.
The three investors in Languagelab are
Avonmore Developments is the UK private investment vehicle of brothers Simon and Michael Blakey. Its focus is early-stage, platform technology-focused businesses and was the initial funder behind the likes of Groupspaces, Tagman, Specle, Commerce Decisions and Bybox.
Huda Associates Ltd (HA) is a private funded venture capital firm with a fresh approach to the business of investment. Using the substantial resources at their disposal, they focus on helping early and expansion stage businesses enter international markets. Target companies operate in high-growth sectors with growth being driven by unique concepts, advanced technology and global potential.
Stephen Bullock is a successful entrepreneur and serial tech angel investor with a portfolio focused on digital media, Web 2.0, software and B2B service companies. He takes an active non-executive board role and consults to a wide range of portfolio companies and is president of the London Business School Enterprise 100 Investment Club.
Shiv Rajendran, Operations Director at Languagelab was a two time guest on EDUKWEST.
In the past week I was on a short business trip to London meeting with some educational companies based in the UK as well as US entrepreneur / Angel investor Jason Calacanis who did his first Open Angel Forum (OAF) outside the States just there.
On October 5th I had the pleasure of being invited to the offices of Languagelab near Marylebone Station. I mention the location as Languagelab is all about learning English in a virtual environment with real people from all over the world.
Although Shiv, the founder and CEO, is not new to EDUKWEST and a regular to my review:ed format, it was the first time that I had the opportunity to experience English City, their island in Second Life (SL) and also meet with some members of the team.
Languagelab having now over three years of experience with 3D worlds, it was nice for me to see a class with six (paying) students from different countries and their US based teacher taking place but also seeing places like the library where students can download podcasts and therefore also have a self paced learning experience in addition to the live classes.
I much enjoyed the information provided by Jessica Driscoll, product development manager at Languaglab, on how English City is aligned to the common European Framework of Reference for Languages and it was interesting to hear what type of classes are currently popular amongst their students.
English City, however, is not static and I found it fascinating to see how the island grows and enjoyed the chat with one of the designers.
Speaking for myself, I had never seen learning in a virtual environment as that attractive for my individual type of learner, also partly as I had seen a few not overly interesting attempts in SL. However, I must say that doing it properly and giving the students this feeling of being immersed in the language I see Languagelab as a proper and probably one of the most successful businesses in edu 2.0 after my visit.
Last but not least, I would dearly like to thank Jessica and Shiv for this oh so British tea time in this incredibly beautiful hotel: The Landmark. The difference between English City 3D world and English tradition left its mark!
1. EDUKWEST #38 with Shiv Rajendran and Jessica Driscoll of LanguageLab
Funding in online education – Knewton $12.5 million, Grockit undisclosed and Academia.edu $1.6 million and if this shows a trend that online education is actually getting on the radar of investors finally.
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