Google’s AI fund leads $7m round in language app Elsa

Ben Heathcote

In App Deals. February 28, 2019

Elsa, an app for English language learners, has raised a $7 million in Series A funding. The investment round was led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, with participation from Monks Hill Ventures and SOSV.

Founded in 2015 by Vietnamese entrepreneur Vu Van, Elsa claims that its speech recognition technology can detect English pronunciation mistakes with 95 percent accuracy. The app has been used by more than four million users, and has raised $12 million in funding to date.

The company wrote in a blog post:

“Following on our success in Vietnam this past year, we’ll use this capital to scale our business to new markets in Asia, such as Indonesia, India and Japan, where we’re seeing a big demand for English speaking skills. In addition, we will expand ELSA’s award-winning AI and speech capabilities.

“Having the experience and support of the fantastic team at Gradient Ventures is essential in this endeavor and we’re thrilled to work together.”

The funding will be used to expand the company’s team of artificial intelligence scientists and engineers, and support its expansion in Japan, Indonesia and India through the establishment of a new Tokyo office.