Bellevue, WA – October 10, 2019 – Blue Canoe, the artificial intelligence (AI) B2B company that has revolutionized how to help non-native English speakers improve their spoken English, today announced that it has closed its Seed Round, bringing the total amount raised to date to $3.9M. The round was led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Tsingyuan Ventures, which has joined the board, along with Qualcomm Ventures LLC, Fantail Ventures, and more. The company will use the funding to scale both the product and revenues, with a focus on Japan and China.
Blue Canoe sells to global companies that urgently need their employees to speak English clearly and confidently with customers and colleagues, and partners with English language training companies to improve and expand their offerings. Customers include multi-national corporations in the high tech, professional services, and enterprise software industries, and English language training companies in the United States, China and Japan, including EY Japan, SAP Japan and WE Education.
“Learning to speak English clearly is much harder than learning to read or write it, and for millions of people around the world it is a barrier to greater economic success. Blue Canoe is a game-changer, providing the most effective way to learn to speak English in a way that others can easily understand,” said Sarah Daniels, Blue Canoe CEO and co-founder. “English language training companies can now expand their business and be more successful in graduating students who are fluent speakers, and multi-national corporations can help their employees be more productive team members.”
English is the Default Business Language Around the World
According to the TESOL International Association, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide are currently learning English as a second language, with 400 million in China alone. While many language programs help learners memorize vocabulary and grammar rules to become proficient in reading and writing English, learning after childhood to speak fluently is a challenging “last mile” problem. Standard teaching methods usually fail because the brain’s center for language sounds is quite resistant, and even experienced English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers lack the right methodology to help. As a result, most English language learners cannot speak clearly and confidently, whether they are students or adults, and businesses have many employees who can’t be fully productive in English.
Blue Canoe Marries Brain-Based Learning and AI to Speed Process of Learning English
Blue Canoe uses the patented Color Vowel® System, a brain-based methodology for pronunciation training. It has been used by tens of thousands of ESL teachers, as well as top institutions including the U.S. Department of State, the Peace Corps, Yale, Harvard and Georgetown universities, to teach millions of learners. Daniels and her team founded Blue Canoe in 2016 as a part of the Kernel Labs incubator after realizing that they could scale the Color Vowel System with technology, and build a revolutionary solution that could solve the speaking gap. Blue Canoe has an exclusive license to digitize the methodology and has created a virtual AI teacher in its mobile app with patent-pending speech recognition and machine learning. Blue Canoe customizes the vocabulary and content in the app so that it is relevant for children, students or adults in the workforce. Non-native speakers play on the Blue Canoe app for 10 minutes each day and receive immediate personalized feedback on their spoken English, literally rewiring their brains to allow them to learn how to correctly pronounce English.
“Blue Canoe is addressing a critical gap in the $40 billion global market for English language training, and their AI solution is unique and effective,” said Eric Rosenblum, Partner with Tsingyuan Ventures in Los Altos, Calif. “We’re excited about Blue Canoe’s team and solution, which combines AI technology, a proven methodology, and valuable data.”
Olga Zguskaya, VP HR, SAP Japan, added that she is “delighted that we have offered Blue Canoe to our non-native English speaking employees. They are learning, improving their spoken English, and increasing their confidence, and all of this is a valuable benefit to our company.”
About Blue Canoe
Blue Canoe is the most effective way for non-native English speakers to improve their clarity and confidence in speaking English. Blue Canoe uses the proven 20-year-old brain-based methodology, the Color Vowel® System, which has successfully improved pronunciation for more than 1 million learners globally. Blue Canoe scales this methodology with patent-pending speech recognition and machine learning, creating a virtual AI Teacher that provides targeted feedback. Learners track their progress over time with Blue Canoe’s objective pronunciation score. The company works with English language training partners and directly with multi-national companies, and is based in Bellevue Washington.
About Tsingyuan Ventures
Tsingyuan Ventures is a technology-focused venture fund based in Los Altos, Calif, investing in seed to A-round startups in the United States. They are a highly technical team of seasoned executives and entrepreneurs, with seven PhDs and more than 150 patents filed by the investing team. A significant portion of their portfolio is in AI-related applications and enabling technologies, including computer vision, NLP, and autonomous driving.
About Qualcomm Ventures
As the Venture Capital investment group of Qualcomm Incorporated, a world leader in next-generation wireless technologies, Qualcomm Ventures has been making strategic investments in technology companies that have the potential to dramatically transform our world since 2000. As a global investor, we’re focused on building the connections that bring our mobile future forward. For more information, please visit https://www.qualcommventures.com. Qualcomm Ventures is the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated.