There are lots of ways to learn a language, and if you go looking for one, Google will point you to a crowd favorite — Rosetta Stone (remember the mall kiosks?), Babbel, or Duolingo.
These services have one thing in common: They deal in software (like A.I) and rigid lesson plans to keep human teachers out of the picture. Verbling, the service I use to learn Spanish, is basically the opposite.
Verbling is a marketplace for finding language teachers and booking hourly lessons over video chat. The service has scaled to 1 million users, Verbling says, and today it’s launching an enterprise service that will bring its teachers inside companies like Volkswagen and Zara-owner Inditex.
Verbling says its goal is to “address one of the biggest problems in international business: language barriers.” The tech world believes it can solve this issue through A.I. and mobile translation tech (or maybe even smart headphones) — but so far no perfect solutions exist. If you want to meaningfully speak with someone in another language, you have to learn that language.
By targeting businesses with training and HR budgets, Verbling Enterprise may significantly grow the company’s user base — and the move, I presume, will pour new revenue into the nine-person startup, backed by Y Combinator and SV Angel, among others.
“We’ve built our entire company around the premise that humans are better at retaining people on their learning path than software,” Verbling CEO Jake Jolis tells VentureBeat. “The relationships that humans form with one another are so much stronger as a driver to stick with a program vs. an A.I powered tool could possibly be.”
“We are a technology company and we don’t believe the role of technology is to replace teachers, it’s to empower them.”