Chatterize, a language-learning platform based in Wellington, New Zealand, has raised NZ$1 million to roll out its AI-enabled chatbot in China to help Chinese students learn English through conversation.
The seed funding round was led by New Zealand investment group Icehouse Ventures, with participation from Eleanor Venture, an Ausie tech investment syndicate headed by Startmate mentor Kylie Frazer, according to Smart Company. Chatterize is a recent graduate from Startmate accelerator program.
Founded in 2019 by Lane Litz and Beleza Chan, Chatterize is an English conversation app that accelerates spoken fluency by applying conversational AI to recreate an immersion learning environment. The startup has recently launched a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) called TalkTown, a conversational English environment at home built around true-to-life experiences, as a ‘mini-program’ on the WeChat ecosystem. It claims to have garnered 35,000 users so far this year.
Chatterize creates an engaging and pressure-free environment to accelerate English learning in school and the real world. It offers real-life scenarios with modern, useful words and phrases, unlimited conversation time, and key insights and learning results in real time, personalized for each learner. Its TalkTown allows children to complete daily conversations about practical topics, learn native-sounding words and phrases, and perfect their pronunciation.
With the new investment, the company said it will continue to invest in scaling its platform, add more content, and build its operations in China and New Zealand.
On why Chinese market, Lane Litz said, “The Chinese online English education market is one of the largest and fastest growing edtech markets in the world.” According to the Smart Company, within the next four months or so, Chatterize hopes to have the proprietary app on the market and in six months’ time, the startup is targeting between 5000 and 8000 paid users. “We’re looking to make about $2 million in revenue in 24 months, and that is 15,000 paid users,” she said.
Smart Company said so far Chatterize’s team has been focused on proving out the cost of acquisition for unpaid users, understanding what leads to those users sticking around and, perhaps most importantly, testing the technology. Litz said its software uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology – specifically for Chinese children speaking English. While it is a bit of hard to go for a speech recognition platform, the co-founder said that WeChat program will effectively act as a user acquisition channel.
Chatterize’s TalkTown is currently available as a WeChat mini-program. Interested individuals can open it straight from the WeChat app. A remote-first business, Litz is based in New Zealand, while Chan is in China, and the startup has employees in China and the US.