In Barcelona you can easily survive only speaking English, or at least Spanglish, but if you move out of the big cities your life will suddenly get a bit harder.
ABA English wants to change this through their interactive language learning app, where they combine videos, personal teachers, and listen-record-compare technology, so everybody can connect through English.
They recently closed a round of €10.5 million led by Kennet Partners and Nauta Capital. Basque entrepreneur Iñaki Ecenarro, founder of Trovit, participated and will join the project.
The new round will help ABA develop their product, especially their teaching videos, as well as grow internationally this year with a special focus on Turkey and China.
ABA English now has over 10 million users and they’re still growing, organically, as they have from the start.
You would think that the company was aiming at teaching more languages as their method of learning is working well with english, but CEO Javier Figarola has a different idea:
“We will stay focused on English, and only english. We want to focus on doing one thing great!”
They recently formed strategic partnerships with several universities where students use ABA English as a support to their existing education.
CEO Figarola spoke at the edtech conference in London earlier this spring and he feels confident in ABA’s way of teaching, even after meeting cutting edge startups from all over the world in London:
“Edtech will explode in the next years, and as VR and Gamification are cool ways of teching they’re just tools. We believe that the most important aspect is engaging content.”
From door-to-door to app
Several decades ago Figarola’s father started a company selling english learning materials (cassettes, books etc.) to people in Barcelona, going door-to-door.
“At that time it was a good thing knocking at a strangers door selling your products,” says Figarola smiling.
A lot has happened over the decades and the books and cassettes have been replaced with cutting edge technology, however the Figarola family is still teaching english in peoples homes.
Last year, the company won the Best Educational App Award granted by Reimagine Education, an initiative co-managed by The Wharton School and QS Quacquerelli Symonds.
Staying in Barcelona
ABA English is part of a growing trend of companies staying put in Barcelona, even after closing big rounds of funding:
“This is where it all started, and Barcelona is full of talent from the whole world, we have people from over 20 nationalities,” says Figarola.
Founded back in 2007, the company has reshaped and renewed itself several times and calls today’s edition of ABA English the 4.0. Their two biggest competitors are the giants Duolingo and Babel.
There are currently 64 people on the ABA team, but they will expand to 76 people by the year, and aim to double the revenue from last year.
“Even though we’re not a startup anymore, we want to continue to work as one and keep the culture we have built over the years,” Figarola explains.