Language-learning service Easy Ten builds significant userbase in emerging economies

easyten-languageRussian startup Easy Ten has taken a straightforward approach to helping language learners, giving them 10 (hence the name) words per day (or, up to 20, if that’s what you prefer) to learn. It may not seem like much, but the idea is that you will have a fairly healthy vocabulary in the given language after learning 3,650 words over the course of a year.

However, what may be most interesting about Easy Ten is the manner in which this startup emerged. We frequently hear about engineers, computer scientists, developers, businessmen, and other types of people taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, but plastic surgeons? Not so much. And yet, that is exactly what happened in the case of Easy Ten, co-founded by plastic surgeon Dmitry Zarjuta following his experience learning Czech with a tutor. Feeling that he was making little progress, his wife suggested that he simply focus on learning 10 words per day and an idea was born. Zarjuta continued to work as a plastic surgeon, but began to pour funds into the project and build a team. In July 2012, they launched a simple version of the app in China in order to test the market and, to their surprise, found that Chinese users were more interest in learning Russian than English. Not much revenue was generated at this time, but Chinese users nonetheless paid for the subscription and began to rate it up. Discovering the value in their idea, they removed the app from the Chinese market, analyzed their feedback, and launched an improved version in Russia in 2013. The startup says that, within 2 months, the app shot into the top 10 of the Russian AppStore, attracting 300,000 users.

When the startup initially went global, they began by targeting Brazil, believing language-learners there to be similar to Russians. They have since expanded to 48 countries (70 language editions) and state that they are planning to focus on Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, and China this year. Just today, the company announced that they have released an app for Apple Watch, which complements their offerings for iOS and Android.

Many startups are reluctant to release financial details, but Easy Ten tells me that they are currently generating $80,000 in monthly revenue. Zarjuta invested $80,000 of his own funds into the project to get it started, but they later picked up $450,000 from the Internet Initiatives Development Fund, an incubator that hosted them for 3 months.

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