Open English to expand beyond Latin America

Monday, May 6, 2013

Open English, an online English language learning firm focused on Latin America, will launch its brand in three new markets in 2013 starting with the US Hispanic market next month, Open English's founder and CEO Andrés Moreno told BNamericas.

The names of the other two markets have not yet been announced though Moreno did not rule out the possibility of eventually expanding into Asia. "There is tremendous potential for Open English all over the world," he said.

The company announced last week it had sealed a US$65mn Series D round of capital funding bringing total funding over the past three years to US$120mn.

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Moreno said that the company would be using the financing for three key areas: expansion within Latin America where the company is "still only scratching the surface," international expansion, and investing in integration of the learning platform.

Moreno told BNamericas in October last year that Open English expects to complete re-engineering of its technology platform by mid-2013, upgrading it to HTML 5 so it will support mobile.

He said that an increasing amount of students do not have a PC and want to be able to access the content on a tablet or smartphone.

Open English has seen explosive growth since its launch in 2007, reaching 5,000 students in 2010, 20,000 in 2011 and over 75,000 active users today, with over 100,000 registered. Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Peru have been the fastest growers apart from Brazil, which in its first year of launch in 2012 reached 10,000 students. In 1Q13, of the 30,000 new students signed up, one quarter were Brazilians.

Moreno believes the online method of teaching suits today's professionals, giving them flexibility to study when they have time and cutting down substantially on the costs associated with traditional teaching methods by eliminating photocopies, text books and rooms.

The typical age group of students is 25-50.

"A lot of these students have already taken an offline course before. They understand the complications of traffic, trying to get to the school, being taught by a teacher that is not native, being in a classroom full of students, learning with a bunch of books and photocopies. They're now discovering there is a better way to learn," Moreno said.

Moreno also said that social networks have been a cost effective way of marketing the brand which now has almost 1mn fans on Facebook.