My son just turned three and he already speaks better Spanish than I do.
To be fair, he has two secret weapons. The first is the sponge-like brain of a toddler. The second is my wife — she’s a native Spanish speaker, and she only speaks Spanish to him.
I’ve tried to catch up with him by using language-learning apps like Duolingo and Memrise. Unfortunately, nothing has stuck.
But now I’ve got a new solution. And not only can it help me conquer Spanish…
But it might help me make 10x my money at the same time.
The Problems of Existing Solutions
The online market for learning languages is huge.
In 2018, it reached $9.1 billion. And by 2026, it’s expected to be worth more than $20 billion.
Companies like Duolingo and Memrise are riding this wave to success.
But it’s not clear that their customers are succeeding. In particular, it seems there are three main problems that existing solutions don’t address:
- When we learn a new language, we’re hearing sounds we’ve never heard before. So we can’t remember them.
- The words we’re learning — plant, window, ceiling — aren’t relevant to us. So we zone out and end up learning nothing.
- For most of us, word-based translations (ball = pelota) only go so far. To get our brain to remember a new word, it needs to map that word to an image, a picture.
But now there’s a new solution…
A New Solution: Fluent Forever
Fluent Forever is a language-learning app. It aims to make you fluent in a new language in six months.
Its solution is based on research from founder Gabriel Wyner’s best-selling book, “Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It.”
Wyner discovered that, based on the science of how memories are stored in the brain, we can double our learning speed and long-term retention by focusing on content that's about our own life.
Fluent Forever’s solution mitigates the three problems of existing apps:
- It focuses on “Ear Training.” This trains our ears to recognize the new sounds we’re learning. Then it builds online flash cards to help us remember them.
- To ensure the words we’re learning are relevant to us — and thus, that we’ll pay attention — it enlists each of us to create our own personalized content.
- Instead of word-based translations, it shows us pictures, so we can properly map new information to our brains.
And based on many assessments, its solution appears to be working…
A Few Key Stats
For example, the company claims that its ear-training helps increase memorability by 20%; its picture-based approach leads to a 100% increase in memorability; and its personalized content approach delivers a 100% increase in memorability.
Perhaps these stats help explain why the business itself is thriving:
- Fluent Forever is currently doing $2 million in annual recurring revenue.
- It did the biggest Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign for an app in history: $1.7 million.
- And it’s already raised more than $6 million from professional venture investors including Firebrand Ventures, Cultivation Capital, and LAUNCH/Jason Calacanis.
But now, to grow further and faster, it’s getting ready to raise capital from investors like you.
Should you consider an investment? Let’s take a look…
Pros and Cons of an Investment
On the “pro” side:
- Big Market. Again, the market is expected to be worth $20 billion by 2026.
- Already doing $2 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). It expects that number to reach $5 million to $8 million this year, and longer-term, it believes it can hit $100 million in ARR.
- Exit Potential. Competitor Rosetta Stone was acquired for nearly $800 million in 2021. Duolingo is currently valued at more than $3.5 billion.
But on the “con” side…
- It’s not clear that its position is defensible. It has a patent on its image search engine — the technology that helps us remember new words. But if a bigger player could replicate something similar, it might be able to outcompete Fluent Forever.
- Its products are expensive. Its entry-level product is $10/month. But it’s aiming for growth in its more expensive $289/month product.
- The valuation for this round is $35 million. We aim for 10x returns on our startup investments. In this case, that means an exit would need to be worth at least $350 million. Given Rosetta Stone’s $800 million exit price, $350 million is possible. But a lower valuation would leave us more room for error.
These “cons” help explain why I’m not recommending that you run out and blindly invest in Fluent Forever. This is a risky venture, and it requires substantial research to understand how things might play out.
But if you believe there will always be people, like me, who are eager to learn a new language, this one might be worth a look.
Fluent Forever will be opening up its funding round shortly.
Please note: Crowdability has no relationship with any of the startups we write about. We’re an independent provider of education and research on startups and alternative investments.