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ELSA Raises $15 Mn In Series B Funding Round Co-led By VI Group And SIG The funds will be used by the company to invest in full-scale B2B expansion

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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San Francisco-based edtech company ELSA (English Language Speech Assistant), which uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to help language learners improve their English speaking skills and pronunciation, announced to have raised $15 million in Series B funding round co-led by Asia-based Vietnam Investments Group (VIG) and SIG.

Previous investors Gradient Ventures, Google's AI-focused venture fund, SOSV, and Monk's Hill Ventures also participated in this round. New investors are Endeavor Catalyst and Globant Ventures, which will assist the company's expansion efforts in Latin America.

With over 13 million users worldwide, the platform said to help language learners with an easy way to improve their English speaking ability by listening to how they pronounce words, sentences, or conversations to pinpoint exact errors and provide real-time, accurate suggestions on their pronunciation mistakes.

With the increase of remote work and investment from companies looking to improve the English speaking skills of their staff, especially in Asia and Latin American (LATAM) regions, the startup claims to have inked numerous partnerships with corporations and educational institutions worldwide and acts as a tool of choice for many private schools, public schools, and language learning centers.

"We are pleased to leverage the support of our investors as we rapidly grow across Asia with an introduction into the Latin American market this year. We are honored to have VIG and SIG on board as our lead investors with their experience in building business-to-business (B2B) solutions and scaling companies across the world. This investment is further validation of our team and mission to help people, such as employees and students, improve their English speaking skills and unleash their full potential in today's global and remote work marketplace," stated Vu Van, co-founder, and chief executive officer, ELSA.

The new capital comes on the heels of other significant milestones that the platform has achieved in 2020, such as nearly doubling its customer base, increasing revenue by almost 300 per cent, and introducing multiple product enhancements.

This new funding will go towards research and development (R&D) to further develop its award-winning voice recognition artificial intelligence (AI), build a scalable B2B platform, and hire new talent.

The company maintains to have recently piloted its B2B efforts with schools and companies in Vietnam and India and received significant interest from other regions. As a result, the company will now focus on creating a scalable B2B platform that allows cooperation with corporate partners around the world.

"ELSA's AI-powered pronunciation coach is the only practical way to provide 1-1 pronunciation coaching at scale. They've achieved exceptional growth this past year and we look forward to helping them further expand their reach and utility in the coming years. We are delighted to join VIG and SIG to further support ELSA's mission of enabling education and economic opportunities for the 1.5 billion English learners worldwide," shared Justin Nguyen, partner, Monk's Hill Ventures.

Founded in 2015, the company's geographical expansion will focus on the LATAM region where it has experienced exponential growth, plus ongoing investment in Vietnam, India, and Japan, where growth was fivefold last year with additional demand anticipated in 2021. The startup is actively hiring for roles in AI, research, engineering, product, and business development in locations such as Silicon Valley, Asia, and Latin America.

"The most difficult step in achieving proficiency in a language is speaking. ELSA applies patented algorithms to the collective data from its users through a user-friendly interface to facilitate consistent improvement. VI Group has invested in K-12, Early Childhood, Enrichment, and vocational education in Vietnam. We look forward to working with the ELSA management team to broadly distribute its app in Vietnam and international markets," added David Do, managing partner, VI Group.

ELSA has previously raised $27 million in capital and is backed by leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley and Southeast Asia and Japan.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

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