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Vietnamese Educational App Elsa Secure $7m From Google's AI Fund

Elsa, founded in 2015 by Vietnamese national Van Dinh Hong Vu and speech recognition researcher Dr. Xavier Anguera, is a mobile application that helps English learners hone their pronunciation and overall speaking ability.

In a recent Series A round of investment, Elsa successfully raised US$7 million with the participation of Gradient Ventures — Google’s venture capital fund that focuses on AI products — as well as Monk’s Hill Venture and SOSV, two past investors, TechCrunch reports. Since 2015, Elsa has raised a total of US$12 million.

With the funding, Elsa will expand its market to Japan, Indonesia and India, and upgrade additional features. It has already launched an office in Tokyo and will establish a similar presence in Indonesia and India, where the app has seen ample engagement and downloads without marketing.

Vu shared with TechCrunch in an interview that she had difficulty being understood when she came to the US to study and work due to her inaccurate accent and pronunciation. As abundant as English learning options were, almost all platforms she could find deal with vocabulary and grammar, instead of pronunciation.

Van Dinh Hong Vu is the CEO and co-founder of Elsa. Photo via VnExpress.

Elsa was thus created with the goal to help those in the same predicament. The app measures users' English pronunciation against American English standards using voice recognition and AI and offers advice on how to make improvements.

The company is working to offer languages beyond English, with Spanish being the highest priority. They have also been collaborating with schools in Vietnam with a vision to integrate the app with classwork. Schools can upload their desired content on Elsa to incorporate it into homework and teachers can see the completion and perform marking via the app.

[Top photo via TechCrunch]

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