Made in Kyiv, edtech startup Preply is about to graduate to the next level
In spite of economic instability – or perhaps spurred on by it – Ukraine is a country with a healthy dose of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Kyiv is proving to be a particular hub for innovation: this year, the Ukrainian capital was ranked at number 32 (out of more than 1 000 cities worldwide) for its startup activity. Indeed, Kyiv’s startup ecosystem is doing a lot to establish Ukraine as a major player on the world tech stage. Today What’s On takes a look at one particular Ukrainian success story: edtech company Preply.
An evergreen business
Preply is a global online tutoring marketplace, founded in 2012 by three Ukrainians – Kirill Bigai (CEO), Serge Lukyanov (Head of Design), and Dmytro Voloshyn (CTO). Despite COVID-19 and its economic fallout, Preply is proof that online education is an evergreen business, filling the gaps created by the pandemic. As of March 2020, Preply’s security inspired investors to reward the company with $10M.
From professionals to preschoolers
Preply’s main focus is on languages, with the largest segment of its clientele consisting of professionals looking to open up job opportunities. Since 2012, the range of subjects taught on the platform has grown – as has the client base. Nowadays there are over 100 subjects on offer, including in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Mr Bigai is always looking to expand the scope of the platform, saying, “I envision a future where anyone can learn anything using Preply.” In the wake of school closures, Preply is now seeing a growing number of young learners whose parents have signed them up for online lessons as an alternative to endless YouTube cartoons.
From the comfort of your home
While learners enjoy a sleek and professional front-end experience, Preply’s tutors – who come from all over the world – are supported by training and resources. Though everything is done virtually, Preply encourages their tutors to humanise the classroom experience. Many have transitioned from offline teaching, while others have joined the platform as a career change (even more so after lockdowns were imposed worldwide). Pandemic or not, Preply’s online set-up suits both tutors and learners, enabling them to escape the ‘rush hour challenge’ and connect from their respective homes or offices.
Today, Preply is headquartered in the US (Brighton, Massachusetts) and operates from office locations in Kyiv and Barcelona. The growing international workforce currently numbers around 125, yet the company retains a friendly startup atmosphere.
Where to next? Ultimately the plan is to continue growing the company, while making the experience more convenient for clients and tutors alike, and moving towards a more in-depth and immersive product. Short-term plans include boosting the functionality and UX of the mobile app, and enabling tutors to track students’ progress towards their learning goals.
As it stands on the threshold of becoming a global success story, Preply is most certainly a startup that Ukrainians can be proud of.