Best Teacher, a Tokyo-based startup providing online language learning solutions, announced today it has raised 51.1 million yen (approximately $530,000) from GMO Venture Partners and SMBC Venture Capital. The startup began with seed investment from CyberAgent Ventures in January of 2012, and launched a C2C-based English-conversation learning service over Skype in May. As of last September, it has acquired 2,000 Japanese users who want to learn English, and 400 English teachers from 40 countries worldwide.
The Japanese online language learning market is extremely competitive, including service providers like Rarejob and Englishtown. Best Teacher was a late-comer, and in order to overcome this disadvantage and differentiate from others, it has deployed a new feature which allows you to ask your teacher what kind of expressions you want to practice. The teacher will correct your phrases, arrange them in a more natural way, and coach your pronunciation over Skype. This method lets you concentrate on learning only the expressions you need.
Best Teacher was founded by Toshimitsu Miyachi (who previously worked as a consultant and served as the CFO of a venture IT company) and ex-prep school teacher Masaki Goto. There is a pretty high demand for such English language services in Japan, with about 2 million people registering to take the well-known TOEIC test . Startups are expected to account for about 1% of this population, and if all of them subscribed to the Best Teacher service, it could potentially generate revenue of $830,000 a month.
TOEIC stands for the Test of English for International Communication. ↩