ELSA, the English language learning platform, today announced it has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding. It also launched ELSA AI Tutor, which builds on years of speech recognition data collected by the app and reproduces conversations through generative AI to help students correct their pronunciation, grammar and tone. This brings ELSA’s total raised to date 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 the ELSA board. ELSA’s last funding round 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 the funding will be used “to support and grow our platform and expand our global offering, for example further growing in Taiwan with our new investors, expanding into the Middle East and Turkey, building on our success in Japan with students and increasing our focus on B2B. English is the top job requirement worldwide, and we want to enable more people to enter the global job market with stronger English skills.”
ELSA was founded 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 conversation skills. ELSA AI Tutor is a voice-based AI tutor with a role-playing scenario that users can listen to and respond to (e.g. a customer service position). ELSA AI Tutor uses speech recognition to provide advice on how to correct pronunciation, grammar and cadence, and whether the student is using the correct tone for a professional environment. The feature also remembers users’ previous performance so lessons can be customized for them. ELSA AI Tutor is designed for people who want to practice live conversations with a teacher, but don’t have access to it.
In a statement on the investment, Loh said: “We believe that artificial intelligence will pave a new way forward for the education sector. ELSA’s affordable and personalized AI-based English-speaking solution will enable users to improve their skills, opening up more employment opportunities, especially in developing countries. We are excited to support ELSA’s growth into more markets, especially in Southeast Asia.”