ELSA, an American english-language learning app, has raised a US$7 million Series A led by Gradiant Ventures. The Asia connection is that it is a portfolio company of both Monk’s Hill, from Singapore, and SOSV, which has a strong network in China and Taiwan.
Gradiant Ventures is the AI-focussed fund from Google.
ELSA stands for English Language Speech Assistant and the product works by using artificial intelligence to detect people’s pronunciation errors. It claims to have a success rate of over 95 per cent. ELSA listens to people pronouncing english words and then responds with hyper specific corrections based on their mistakes.
The money is going to be used to scale the product and grow in markets like Japan, Indonesia and India. Interestingly, Vietnam is ELSA’s fastest growing market and it saw a 4X YoY growth between 2017 and 2018.
Vietnam was also the testbed for a teacher-focussed educational programme that it plans to expand globally in the future.
The company also plans to launch a social feature at the end of this year and continue to build out its AI capabilities (including updates in rhythm intonations).
ELSA was founded in 2015 and has raised US$12 million to date.