Back in January I predicted that italki will give it another shot and probably raise some more money. Well, yesterday I received an email from Kevin Chen in which he announced just that, a second angel round.
Though Kevin did not disclose the actual numbers, he wrote that the funding is “in the hundreds of thousands, and less than a million” with participation of individual angels as well as angel funds.
I have known italki for a very long time. It must have been the second or third platform I signed up for back in 2008. It was also one of the platforms that actually delivered students that were willing to pay for my teaching.
If you followed my posts about italki over the years here on this blog and over at EDUKWEST you know that the team managed to run the platform for years on a very low initial budget. The reason why those angels invested in italki is that the platform is apparently showing some good organic growth in terms of revenue and the new round will be used to bring italki to global scale.
Looking at what is left on the market after the past couple of years, italki might have a good chance to gain traction. Most players (which where all better funded) from back in the days are either in the dead pool or very close to go belly up. Hence there is a growing group of independent language teachers with at least some experience on the market who look for new platforms to offer their services on.
And according to italki more than 900,000 people are using (have used) the service up to today. This is, of course, just a friction of the traffic Livemocha or busuu are seeing, but for a service that focuses on live lessons, it is likely the biggest group of learners / teachers today.
As a little downer I will share with you that I know people from my Deutsch Happen project who have been using the italki platform to ask questions and get answers without ever having had the intention to pay for lessons with a teacher / tutor. Though with the relaunch of the marketplace this Q&A element of italki might not be an integral part anymore, it has surely had its part in the 900,000 people using the service. You know me, I’ve never been one to cheer on vanity numbers.
The relaunched italki is clearly focused on student and teacher discovery. It offers three different types of live learning: with an language exchange partner (free), with a community tutor (free or low price) and with professional teachers (regular price).
The payment system is still based on credits which makes it easier for students to pay through a large choice of different online payment methods.
Of course, it is hard to say if the last man standing will succeed in the end. But growing revenue based on students who are willing to pay for teaching services is not a bad sign. And the italki team is now very experienced in growing a service organically over years and I doubt that their style will change with the new round of funding.
If I was still teaching online for a living, I would gladly reactivate my italki account to give it a try.