Drive Capital led the round, with participation from former backers from Sololearn’s previous $ 1.2 million Series A round in 2016. They include Learn Capital and Prosus Ventures.
It should be noted that Drive Capital was co-founded by two Sequoia alumni in Columbus, Ohio, with the mission to focus on founders outside of the “usual” hubs. That’s precisely what they’ve done here: Sololearn is from Yerevan, Armenia, which has produced a lot of engineering talent, but oddly not so many startups. (PicsArt, which is actually also the headquarters in San Francisco, may be the biggest name to come out of it.)
Sololearn was founded and is currently led by Yeva Hyusyan, who tells me the impetus for the business came from a previous project she worked on while working for Microsoft in the country, a startup accelerator. .
A parallel effort to this was a coding bootcamp they set up to help future entrepreneurs improve their skills. The bootcamp eventually took on a life of its own, with tech companies in the country, and particularly in the capital, approaching Hyusyan to find interesting candidates for jobs, and soon after to take on and train people in specific fields. on behalf of technology companies. themselves. In the process, the Accelerator began to create tools that could be used outside of the classroom. Through it all, Hyusyan said that she realized that there was an opportunity in itself to focus only on this. And that’s how Sololearn was born.
Now I know what you need to think about at this point: Aren’t there dozens, if not hundreds, of decent online coding courses and tools out there already? Why fund Yet One More?
The key to what Sololearn does is that it has taken a realistic approach: on mobiles, people want short bursts of content, so coding education on this platform should come as a result. The “lessons” as presented in the form of small engagements, which can be walked through in minutes if needed. Her target users are evenly split between those who focus on deep coding learning and non-technical people trying to learn specific skills for their jobs, and she said both have embraced the format.
“Everyone was critical of learning coding on a mobile screen, so we made a compiler a few years ago,” she said. “But believe me, the younger generation prefers to code on mobile. It’s as normal as a desktop computer. You’d be amazed at the thousands of lines of code they put together, all on one phone.
The Duolingo-type program approach followed by the fact that there are no formal ‘teachers’, but if people need help they can turn to other members of the Sololearn community. . Assistants are encouraged, Hyusyan said, “because they learn and are recognized by the community.”
“The best helpers are the influencers in the community, the experts who work with us for free and basically help everyone. They are our best and most influential members, ”she added.
The formula seems to have worked. Sololearn adds between 200,000 and 300,000 new users each month, she said, with active users up 300% from last year. The 21 million people who already use the platform have turned to it mainly through word of mouth. (This will surely change now that Sololearn has lifted this grand tour…)
The potential audience is huge. “Billions will need to be recycled over the next 10 years,” Hyusyan said, implying that Sololearn (and others like him) will take on this recycling role. “We believe the era of institutional learning is over. No institution, not even a consortium, could meet this demand.
With the company also seeing a lot of interest in learning in platform-specific languages, such as C # and Swift for Apple iOS, Kotlin for Android, and Go for Google cloud computing, it will use the funding for both continue to develop in more languages, but also more learning adapted to specific job categories.
With Dulingo and other small content players experiencing huge growth, this speaks to great potential in the educational arena, and with Sololearn in particular.
“Sololearn provides broad-based guidance for building habits, a warm and supportive community and incredible user-generated content,” Masha Khusid, Partner at Drive Capital, said in a statement. “And with Sololearn bringing that same proven approach to a topic with such a profound impact on the financial futures of millions of people, it’s especially exciting and rewarding to be their Series B leader.”