A young Jaipur couple Nishant and Pranshu Patni is behind the tech startup CultureAlley’s Hello English app. They left their high paying jobs in Gurgaon to follow their dream of making an app that could change the way of learning and speaking of the English language. Hello English app soon became the No.1 app for English learning and speaking on the India Google Play store in less than eight months after its launch. rajasthanpost.com finds out how effective is the app
What prompted you to make the app?
When I was in the Kellogg School of Management, Shanghai on an exchange programme, I found two things very difficult. First and foremost learning the Chinese language and secondly finding vegetarian fare. I could not explain to the people there that I needed pure vegetarian food
Moreover getting trained from an institute within a fixed time frame was costly and just learning from books was not good enough. All these difficulties forced me to think how technology could be used to make learning languages easier. I found that most foreign students were finding it difficult as they had no knowledge of English. Then I decided to create a mobile application (app), which would help solve the language problems.
How did it all start for you two?
We first started with Spanish and Chinese languages but later realised that it would be most appropriate to start work in English language as it is a global language.
Lack of knowledge of English speaking often becomes a hurdle in case of higher education, at work place, in travels abroad where the medium of teaching is usually English. Speaking fluent English can also help to gain confidence.
When did you launch the app?
The app, Hello English, developed by both of us – me and my wife Pranshu was started in October, 2014 to solve problems of those who cannot speak English but are eager to pick it up. And it became popular amongst people of all languages ranging from Bengali to Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Telegu, Urdu and others. It has around 93 lakh users in 15 languages. The app has found users in Yemen, Oman, Nepal, Bangladesh and has been rated as one of the most popular educational apps. The app has managed to get feedback and reviews from 1.5 lakh users and achieved a ranking of 4.5 out of 5 in its popularity.
What is its USP?
The main highlight is one doesn’t need a hi-fi smart phone to download this app. It can downloaded in basic android smart phone free and its usage is also free. The other point is the app has been designed in a game format and is interactive in nature, making users interested to use it.
It also has an advanced voice technique by which the users can hear, listen and learn the words.
It has about 300 lessons and each user can use it according to his/her own level. The users would be able to see their own rating once they start using it and would be able to improve oneself with the rating.
In 2014, CultureAlley entered the global batch of 500 Startups, the world’s largest incubator, which helps new and startup companies develop.
What about your team?
Pranshu is from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and we both are involved in the project. Pranshu left her job as an analyst at Pitney Bowes in Gurgaon, to start developing CultureAlley, a platform that would teach Spanish, Mandarin and English through games and quizzes.
In addition, we have a dedicated and committed team of about 60 people and there many experts who help with the helpline of this app, wherein the users can pose their questions to them. There is also news, sports and entertainment segments in this app.
What is the kind of investment you got for the app?
We got an an investment of $6.1 million (Rs 36 crore) from Tiger Global Management and other investors like Sasha Mirchandani of Kae Capital, Rajan Anandan and Sunil Kalra. The startup team is attracting engineers from colleges across Rajasthan and various IIT graduates.