SAN FRANCISCO — Feb. 1, 2021 — ELSA, a mobile app that uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to help language learners improve their English speaking skills and pronunciation, today announces a Series B round of $15 million in new capital. This round was co-led by VI (Vietnam Investments) Group 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, Globant Ventures and U2’s The Edge (David Evans), which will assist ELSA’s expansion efforts in Latin America.
With over 13 million users worldwide, ELSA (English Language Speech Assistant) is the world’s best English speaking and pronunciation app. ELSA helps 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 LatAm regions, ELSA has inked numerous partnerships with corporations and educational institutions worldwide. ELSA is the tool of choice for many private schools, public schools and language learning centers.
“We’re 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’re honored to have VIG and SIG on board as our lead investors with their experience in building B2B solutions and scaling companies across the world. This investment is a 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,” said Ms. Vu Van, co-founder and CEO of ELSA.
The new capital comes on the heels of other significant milestones that ELSA has achieved in 2020, such as nearly doubling its customer base, increasing revenue by almost 300% and introducing multiple product enhancements. This new funding will go towards R&D to further develop its award-winning voice recognition AI, build a scalable B2B platform and hire new talent. ELSA 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 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 5x last year with additional demand anticipated in 2021. ELSA is 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,” said David Do, Managing Partner at VI Group.
Founded in 2015 by Stanford alum Ms. Vu Van, and Dr. Xavier Anguera, a veteran in speech recognition and AI, ELSA is a mobile app for language learners that helps them improve pronunciation and reduce accents, utilizing in-house speech recognition, automated feedback and deep learning technology. The inspiration for ELSA, the 2016 SXSWEdu winner, came when Vu realized that pronunciation and accent often pose as a hindrance for non-native employees in business. Based in San Francisco, ELSA has raised $27 million in capital and is backed by leading VCs in Silicon Valley and Southeast Asia and Japan. The company has offices in Portugal and Vietnam. For more information, visit: https://www.elsaspeak.com/home
About VI Group
VI (Vietnam Investments) Group is a private equity firm that focuses on high growth businesses in Vietnam. Founded in 2006 by experienced operators, entrepreneurs and investors with a long standing interest and affiliation with Asia and Vietnam, VI Group provides early-stage and expansion capital to industry-leading companies and works with management to grow revenue and margins and improve operations, thus creating shareholder value.
SIG is a global quantitative trading and investment firm founded in 1987 with an entrepreneurial mindset and a rigorous analytical approach to decision making. SIG is headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, USA and has operations across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. SIG invests across the continuum of the venture capital life-cycle, from early to late stage and in a variety of industry sectors. SIG SE Asia is particularly focused on the adaption of business models across countries and regions, and makes extensive use of its employees and portfolio companies to provide insights and assistance to founders.