Today, another startup has struck gold in China’s burgeoning US$20 billion edtech industry. Shanghai-based language teacher marketplace italki has raised a US$3 million Series A funding from Baidu-backed Hujiang, China’s largest e-learning platform.
This newly-raised capital will be channeled towards growing its operations and mobile platform, as well as expand its one-on-one language lesson model. Currently, italki supports over 3,000 active language tutors who deliver lessons in over 75 language. It also claims thousands of paid online lessons take place daily.
“We believe the key to learning a foreign language is building a genuine connection to a native teacher. We’re excited to work with Hujiang, and we hope that we’ll be able to reach more Chinese students looking for foreign teachers,” said Kevin Chen, CEO of italki.
Founded in 2007 as a language exchange social network, italki later pivoted to a language marketplace in 2009. Three years later, it received an undisclosed round of angel investments.
The teachers on italki set their own prices, and italki generates a 15 per cent commission from the lessons transacted on the platform. The average price for an hour of personal lessons on italki is US$10-15 per hour.
Currently, the English language is the most popular, accounting for 50 per cent of the lessons transacted on the site. This is followed by Spanish, French, Chinese, and Japanese. The site even offers endangered languages such as Native American Blackfoot and South African Xhosa.
The fresh italki funding also marks another small step forward in Hujiang’s path towards global expansion. The edtech company, which now has over 100 million users, had previously established partnerships with the world’s largest education companies, including McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and HarperCollins.
Hujiang’s latest funding was for US$157 million, and its investor list includes China Minsheng Investment, and Chinese tech giant Baidu.