Lingua.ly is a better way to learn a language online. We use newspaper articles from the web, which empower users to learn more new vocabulary words in less time, and in any of our 10 supported languages.
At whom is your startup aimed?
We’re aimed at language learners of all ages, ability levels, and nationalities. Users who are already enrolled in a class will find that Lingua.ly complements their learning, and helps them stay on top of useful vocabulary. Working adults and graduate students can take advantage of the program’s flexibility to make the most out of every new word they encounter. Self study learners can browse the web and experience “digital immersion” to acquire more words from context, and particularly, intermediate learners can use the app to grow their vocabulary and reach advanced proficiency.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
Lingua.ly is the only app that lets a user choose which vocabulary words he or she wants to study. We do this in a remarkable way, using a free feed of foreign newspaper articles that adapts to any level or interest.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Lingua.ly is actually a combination of language learning strategies that my co-founder and I used to use: looking up words in newspaper articles, feeding them into flashcard programs, finding more to read etc. But the technology that powers the system actually comes from an algorithm I wrote for my Phd. work on proteins in the human genome. Luckily, Orly’s background is in the cognitive science behind learning, so we were not only able to adapt the algorithm for language, but also to infuse it with ample research from the field of applied linguistics and psychology to ensure the method is as effective as possible.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
As every entrepreneur probably feels at some point, I was concerned about finding a decent development team, and of course, losing time with my family once the business started to require more of my attention.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
My background is actually in physics, and I’ve previously worked as a developer, but it wasn’t until I met my co-founder Orly that I started to get excited about launching a startup. The idea was so revolutionary and everything just fell into place.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
We initially raised funding through an angel investment.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We launched our Android app last April, and seeing it rise to the top of the free Education apps in countries where we had done no targeted PR was really something to be proud of. However, it was also nice to be featured in the New York Times list of best travel apps.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
We answer every email and social media comment, and use services like Uservoice to help track feature requests and make sure we’re building something our core users actually find useful!
How long has your business been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
We spent two years developing the Lingua.ly algorithm and launched our proof of concept in August of 2013. We’re a passionate team of academics, polyglots, and lifetime language learners who are not only extremely motivated but come with an impressive list of academic and work achievements. Everyone brings energy and ideas to contribute to the product and we all consider ourselves Lingua.ly users!
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Our biggest challenge has been designing effective onboarding to help new users enter the Lingua.ly learning loop in as direct and personal of a way as possible.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We’re looking to carry on with our growth as we expand to new platforms, and add the features necessary to make Lingua.ly available to more language learners worldwide.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Carefully consider the mobile platform on which you launch, as Android and iOS come with very different users. There are strategic reasons for choosing both, but make sure you know what yours are!
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
An idea has to be revolutionary, disruptive, and address a real need, but without the right team to act on it, you essentially have nothing. Gather a motivated, talented, and creative group of people who can turn your ideas into a product and then help your business scale.