Language Accelerator gets investment from Skype's founding engineer

The Founder2be community just keeps rocking on. We talked with Hannes and Mait about Language Accelerator, how things began and what their plans are for the future.

What’s the problem your startup is solving and how are you solving it?

Language Accelerator lets you learn languages in a fraction of the time it takes following traditional methods and existing web solutions.

We developed a highly adaptive system for learning that at any given time presents the learner with the best “micro-lesson” (a new word, a phrase, etc.) resulting in the biggest learning increase taking into account his or her current level of understanding and overall ability to absorb knowledge.

Tell us about your team and how did you guys get started? How did the idea for Language Accelerator come about?

Mait was working at CERN smashing protons together. He got frustrated smashing his head against existing solutions trying to learn French. So he wrote a prototype in C++, learned French in just 200h and passed the same exam taken after 12 years of high-school with very good grades.

It was Andres who encouraged Mait to quit his job and commercialize the prototype in a startup. And Andres put his money where his mouth is. He invested into Language Accelerator and joined as an advisor.

Ott is taking care of the business aspects of the business. Having spent 3 years in the Ukraine working through the toughest financial crisis, he knows how to make the best use of limited resources.

While Mait wrote the first prototype, they really needed a dedicated CTO. This was a real breaking point for the team. The breakthrough moment came when their advisor Tonis joined Founder2be and connected Mait and Ott with Hannes who is now leading their architecture development.

With the founding team complete, Jaan Tallinn, founding engineer of Skype, joined as the first outside investor in Language Accelerator.

Hannes, tell us about your online co-founder finding experience. Why did join Founder2be?

I really wanted to do something interesting. That’s why I decided to set up my profile on Founder2be. I quickly had several contacts with promising startup companies. One contact was very interesting and now I work full time with Language Accelerator.

And from all the opportunities you had, how did you decide to team up with Language Accelerator?

There are two very important reasons which motivated me to join: 1) It is a very interesting idea: How to speed up your language learning process. I have always been interested in learning languages and traveling. And 2.) I can’t wait to use this system myself.

How did you guys launch?

Mait wrote the first prototype was in 2012. It didn’t have much of a UI to speak of as he was the only user of the SW he wrote. He then started talking more with Anders and Ott in mid 2013 but the real breakthrough came when Hannes joined in September.

Right after Hannes joined, Jaan invested and now we launched the private beta on November 2nd so we can get first feedback from outside users. Within a single day, we had over a thousand signups which is sufficient to get initial feedback and start improving.

We’ll open up next month and gradually accept more users. You can sign up and we’ll invite more people on a first come first serve basis.

What languages can we learn next with you?

Since we are an Estonian startup, we are teaching English to Estonian speakers in our beta. Next, it we’ll offer to learn French in Estonian, and then French in English, and English as a French speaker. If you signup now, you can also let us know what language you want to learn.

What did you like best about using Founder2be to find your co-founder?

Founder2be is a great place to let the world know that you would like to do something interesting and find people who have good ideas or people who have similar ideas than you.

What advice would you two give to others wanting to start a startup (or join one)?

Hannes: If you have good idea then talk to people about it. Let people know that you have an idea. Founder2be is just the right place to find the type of people you are looking for.

Mait: A startup has a huge competitive advantage because it's like a special ops unit. If you have a great idea, then look for supporting skills to carry it out. Don't underestimate the motivational power that makes your unit move mountains overnight. Finding a co-founder with the skills you need is what makes things really work.


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