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Colingo Raises $2.4M

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Colingo has raised $2.4 million in a round led by Atlas Venture.
To help English-learners worldwide stop struggling and start speaking English, Colingo today launched a live, online English school with teacher-led group videochat classes, personalized skills-training and private tutoring.

Colingo also announced that it has completed a $2.4 million round of funding. Led by Atlas Venture, 500 Startups, Morado Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Havoc Capital, Social Leverage participated in the round. Noted angel investors Ben Ling, Ted Rheingold and Chegg Founder Aayush Phumbhra also invested.

Through its live video classes, Colingo provides a personalized path to English fluency for global professionals who have a basic understanding of English, but lack the confidence and skills to speak in conversational settings. Offered 24 hours a day, Colingo's classes blend authentic conversation about contemporary topics with structured skills training and assessment of over 70 core grammar and pronunciation skills. An average class size of three to five provides an intimate, low-pressure environment where students can gain comfort and confidence while improving core skills and receiving feedback.

'For many professionals today, it's critical that they are fluent in English to excel at their jobs,' said Dustin Dolginow of Atlas Venture. 'I am thrilled to support the company opening the doors of potential for those who may not have otherwise had the chance to learn to speak English at the levels they need to succeed and compete in the global economy.'

Colingo joins Harvard by offering students Small Private Online Classes (SPOC) rather than the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offerings that are popular today. With MOOC dropout rates approaching 90%, largely due to lack of interpersonal interaction, SPOCs group classes with instructors. 'We're getting our students to stop studying and start speaking,' says founder and CEO Benjamin Lowenstein. 'You don't learn to ride a bike by watching a video.'

'Created by the teacher, each class is new and unique, and in contrast to most schools we never run the same class twice,' said Lowenstein. 'An hour on Colingo isn't just aimless talking; it's an hour of immersive practice focused on a core skill, tied into a larger learning path.'

After a 7-day free trial, classes are available through a contract-free $50-a-month subscription, which allows students to attend unlimited classes at a price lower than most offline English schools. For students craving more personal attention from teachers than the group classes provide, the company is now launching its personal teacher program. Students who choose this plan receive a weekly hourlong one-on-one lesson with a dedicated teacher in addition to access to the group classes. Working with Colingo's proprietary personal-teaching curriculum, the personal teacher acts as a learning coach to help the student craft a personalized study plan through a live assessment of their skills. Personal teachers can also help students with specific areas of interest, such as TOEFL test prep or improving business English skills. The teacher also acts as a motivational coach to help students stay focused on overcoming their obstacles, and is available to answer questions anytime via email. The Personal Teacher plan costs $150 a month and is launching today.
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