Monk’s Hill-backed edtech startup ELSA raises $15m in Series B

ELSA co-founder and CEO Vu Van

AI-based English learning app ELSA has raised $15 million in its Series B round co-lead by VI (Vietnam Investments) Group and international investor SIG.

Previous investors Gradient Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund launched by Google; SOSV; and Monk’s Hill Ventures also participated in this round. New investors include Endeavor Catalyst and Globant Ventures, which will facilitate ELSA’s expansion efforts in Latin America.

ELSA, which stands for English Language Speech Assistant, last secured $7 million in its Series A round led by Gradient Ventures in 2019.

The company will use the fresh funding to develop B2B solutions, for research and development and to hire talent.

“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 ELSA co-founder and CEO Vu Van.

The edtech startup claims to have over 13 million users worldwide so far.

“We are delighted to join VIG and SIG to further support ELSA’s mission of enabling education and economic opportunities for the 1.5 billion English learners worldwide,” said Monk’s Hill Ventures partner Justin Nguyen.

“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 VI managing partner Group David Do.

In 2018, ELSA secured a pre-Series A funding of $3.2 million led by Monk’s Hill Ventures for talent acquisition and technology development.

Founded in 2006, VI Group is a private equity firm that focuses on high growth businesses in Vietnam.

DealStreetAsia recently reported that VI Group, which has $550 million worth assets under management and about portfolio 30 companies, is ready to cut smaller cheques ranging from $3 million to $15 million in potential tech investments.

For its tech investment strategy, VI Group is looking at investing $3-5 million at Series A and $10-15 million at Series B stage as it chases tech-driven themes.

Founded in 2015 by Stanford alum 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.

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.