ELSA, the English language learning platform, announced today it has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding. It also launched ELSA AI Tutor, which draws on years of speech recognition data collected by the app and reproduces conversations through generative AI to help learners correct their pronunciation, grammar and tone. This brings ELSA’s total raised so far to $60 million.
The round was led by UOB Venture Management, with participation from UniPresident, Aozora Bank, Vietnam Investments Group (VIG) and Development Bank of Japan (DBJ). Existing investors Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused fund), Monk’s Hill Ventures and Global Ventures also returned. UOB senior director Clarissa Loh joined ELSA’s board. ELSA’s last round of funding was a $15 million Series B announced in January 2021. The startup has offices in San Francisco, Lisbon and Ho Chi Minh City.
In an email, ELSA founder and CEO Vu Van said that the funding will be used “to support and grow our platform and expand our global offering, for example growing further in Taiwan with our new investors, expanding to the Middle East and Turkey, and building upon our success in Japan with students and increasing our focus on B2B. English is the leading job requirement across the world, and we want to empower more people to join the global job market with stronger English skills.”
ELSA was started in 2016 by Van and its platforms now include speaking lessons with personalized learning plans, test and interview preparation and a speech analyzer that helps users improve their conversational skills. ELSA AI Tutor is a voice-based AI tutor that has role-play scenario for users to listen and reply to (for example, a customer service position). ELSA AI Tutor uses speech recognition to give advice on how to correct pronunciation, grammar and cadence, and if the learner is using the right tone for a professional setting. The feature also remembers users’ past performance so it can customize lessons for them. ELSA AI Tutor is designed for people who want to practice live conversations with a tutor, but don’t have access to one.
In a statement about the investment, Loh said, “We believe artificial intelligence will pave a new way forward for the education industry. ELSA’s affordable and personalized AI-enabled English speaking solution will allow users to improve their skills, thereby opening up more job opportunities, especially in developing countries. We are excited to support ELSA’s growth into more markets, especially in Southeast Asia.”