I sit down with Michael Kraft, CEO of LingoMedia, which is aiming to be the largest English Language Learning platform in China. Here are a few rapid fire questions.
What challenge does your company tackle?
As we transition from print and audio based publishing to the digital space, we will try to focus exclusively on teaching and assessing spoken English. It starts in China, but it has international world-wide applications. We are trying to change the way the world learns English.
It started with classroom Basel and supplement textbooks and print. We then got into digital with the acquisition of Taiwanese Speak2Me and then enhanced with hich was free to consumer but ad supported. With Speak2me, we really bought a unique lesson platform. That was launched as speak2me.cn. It’s purely free. That’s the largest ELL community in China with 1.3 mln reg users.
Then, with Parlo we are going to launch a fee-based institutional training model. Corp government and education institutions. The users would react negatively with the launch of a premium registered service. We bought Parlo for the brand.
Note: They are in discussions with networks to launch informational commercials inside the platform. Networks include Australian Broadcasting Corporation and China Educational Television.
They are also building an online assessment program that can test spoken English language.
We built an online assessment platform for the Shanghai Expo, so that they could screen 1.5 million applicants to choose 80,000 to run that space. That assessment practice will drive us online.
It will be like Wal-Mart, we’ll charge $2, $3, and we will put it in a kiosk in the middle of the mall.
Who is using your service right now, outside of who you have already mentioned?
Textbooks are being used by Chinese students in schools.
Speak2Me is for the demographic of 18-35 years old range, with an even female and male split.
Parlo is civil servants, but the first client is China Southern Airlines, and there are probably 15 clients in the pipeline.
The next market is going to be India, and then the Middle Gulf.
Q Group PLC (another platform inside the Parlo offering) is eleven countries including China and those are universities that do a license and private language institutes, and some corporate.
Why is it important to acquire?
It gave us the benefit of being able to cross sell Parlo, but we can now market Q as Q, but we can also market Q as Parlo. It has given us distribution.
Will you acquire other types of platforms or institutions outside of media and technology?
We want to stay in media technology and ELL.
What should edupreneurs know about China?
You need relationships and you need product, and an understanding of the market and the culture.