Busuu managed to build out and bootstrap its way to a healthy audience by being a language-learning site offering direct interaction with native speakers. Last year it raised a Series A investment round of €3.5 million from PROfounders Capital and private investors. It’s now touching 35 million users and last year launched an app strategy that has now iterated that app into other 11 languages. They now say they’ve hit 20 million downloads across iOS and Android (smartphones and tablets), which is a significant number for language/education apps.
Globally, 62 percent of all downloads are for iOS and 38 percent are for Android. The top three countries by number of downloads are the U.S., Germany and Russia, although there is also rapid growth in emerging markets, such as Brazil, Turkey and China. Worldwide, the most popular languages downloaded to learn are English, followed by French and then Spanish.
Busuu’s big, active community is a key part of its strategy. Users connect to native speakers by completing writing exercises and submitting these for feedback and corrections. They can then do the same in return, acting as a tutor of their own language.
Compared to other companies in edtech (e.g. Coursera with 5 million users) Busuu is doing pretty well. Remember that this spring Rosetta Stone acquired Seattle-based online language-learning community Livemocha for $8.5 million in cash. At exit Livemocha had a 16-million-member online language-learning community. It had also raised $19 million over six years. By contrast Busuu has raised $4.56 million to reach 35 million members.