Deals

Language-learning tool Busuu gains $5M and a boardmember from LastMinute.com

Busuu, a startup with a free tool for you to master a new language, has pulled in about $5 million in its first round funding.

The company describes itself as a “social network for language learning” — it offers free and paid-for audio-visual courses in 12 languages, including Spanish and French. There is a free web version, as well as a well-designed mobile and tablet application.

What’s unique about this technology is that every user is a both tutor and a tutee. Using the video tool, anyone can converse with a native speaker, and practice their budding language skills. The company competes with a variety of online language learning tools that help users circumvent the textbook — popular choices are Mango Languages, TellMeMore (which caters to business users) and Living Language.

It makes money through its business English and Spanish courses that helps employees learn typical phrases used in professional situations. The startup plans to release more of these business language courses in the coming months.

The company is showing signs of impressive growth — it has more than 25 million users in over 200 countries and is gaining 40,000 new members per day. It is relocating from Madrid to London as it scales up its operations.

It will use the funding to invest in building out its core product, and to hire more people.

Brent Hoberman, Lastminute.com’s cofounder, will join the board of advisors. “We are looking forward to supporting the company in its future growth plans and shaking up the global language learning market,” said the travel entrepreneur in a statement.

The series A round was led by PROfounders Capital with participation from angel investors.