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Polish EduKoala announces 100,000 Euro in seed funding from Vienna-based INEO Capital. This company provides Android apps for learning languages and was born out of Startup Weekend Warsaw in 2012. As part of the deal, EduKoala CEO Michal Karminski tells us that INEO will take 10% of the company. Prior to obtaining funding from INEO, EduKoala obtained 25,000 euro in pre-seed funding from Polish VC AIP Seed Capital. That deal saw the Warsaw-based VC take 13.5% of shares and was completed in March 2012.
The service itself is a series of apps which assists users in learning languages through flashcards or through a game involving various quizzes and puzzles. At the moment, they offer apps for English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Russian. The founders of the company initially wanted to create an app, which would help users to learn a language whenever they unlock their phone, but decided to pivot towards become a mobile educational-gaming company while participating in the Startup Sauna program.
As Karminski tells us, they’ve already made a name for themselves in the startup world as a graduate of Startup Sauna’s spring 2012 class, a participant at Seedcamp Budapest and were selected as one of the “Top 50” startups at Pioneers Festival 2012 in Vienna. In fact, it was at this last event that Kaminski was introduced to Thomas Tiroch from INEO. Now, thanks to the power of networking, we are able to bring news of a deal just a few months later.
The service itself was launched in September 2012 and Karminski tells me that they’ve had 100,000 downloads in the Google Play store with 30,000 active users. Karminski tells me that they initially experimented with monetizing the service through a premium app (still available), offering premium content, and in-app purchases, but says that they’ve scrapped plans for this until they’ve developed a more stable userbase. Although the service is currently only available for Android, Karminski tells me that they’ve been developing for iOS and Windows Phone and that they’ve been working since January on a complex educational game, due to launch before the end of the year. Finally, Karminski tells us that MindSnacks is probably the biggest competition that they currently have. He also cites Memrise and Busuu, but says that they are not necessarily direct rivals because those services are more focused on teaching languages in a traditional manner and less on the game aspect.
Although it’s often based on a very small sample-size, this service has launched to positive reviews. Taking a look at their app selection in the Google Play store, almost all of the apps have 4 or 5-star ratings. The most popular app is the Language-learning Flashcards one and it maintains a 4.6-star rating out of 446 reviews.
The developers have opted to push out an Android app first and waited to launch on iOS (and Windows Phone). One of the knocks against Android has been that there’s a great deal of fragmentation due the proliferation of older OS versions on Android-based phones and that iOS users are more likely to spend money on apps. As a result, Apple’s “walled garden” ecosystem tends to initially attract the attention developers because of the apparent ease and profitability of developing for iOS. Nevertheless, the team behind EduKoala has decided to buck this trend and first embrace the increasingly-popular Google Play store. I asked Karminski about this decision and he told me that it was a part of their original business plan. Initially, they wanted to create a system which would allow users to learn something every time they check the phone. This was only possible on Android, so they decided to eschew common developer practices and develop first for Android. Having shifted in their focus, Karminski now tells me that they’re working to develop simultaneously for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
In addition to EduKoala, Karminski tells us that he has spent the past few years running SEO service GKstudio.
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