Pranshu Patni’s husband Nishant Patni who was Pranshu’s fiancee back then had a light bulb moment when he had to relocate to Shanghai, China for an exchange program. Being a vegetarian he was worried that he’d not be able to communicate his dietary needs to the locals. In a hurry, he tried learning Mandarin through online courses, tutorial books and also attended learning classes, but due to his hectic schedule had to give up during that time. Pranshu realised although there many who want to learn other languages, the problem was that there are fewer avenues that can effectively teach and enhance our communication skills.
This chatur idea led to the birth of CultureAlley, Pranshu left herjob as an analyst at Pitney Bowes in Gurgaon, to start working on CultureAlley. Initially, she started off with a website that could teach languages including English, Hindi, Mandarin and Spanish, through multiple training models. They also started with live one-on-one sessions with tutors via Skype. But very soon in the year of 2014, CultureAlley entered the global batch of 500Startups, one of world's largest incubator. This was the chance for Pranshu to reinvent the model attract more traction, so with the help of their expertise Pranshu pivoted the model from a website to a mobile -only app called ‘Hello English’ by CultureAlley.
Traditional methods to learn other languages such as flashcards and CD’s are unable to keep a learner motivated and engaged. CultureAlley’s module is designed in an interactive format. Pranshu’s CultureAlley app makes the subject, a part of learner’s daily routine. For instance, it inserts certain words of the language which user is learning in the user’s Facebook newsfeed so that he or she becomes comfortable with the language.
“One billion people from all over the world try to learn a foreign language every year; about 60 percent are learning English,” says Pranshu. ‘Hello English’ by CultureAlley helps people to learn English from 12 Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil and Gujarati. At present, it is being used by 3 million people, according to the CultureAlley website.
Pranshu and Nishant Patni started CultureAlley just days before they got married. They quit their jobs and returned to their hometown Jaipur to follow their vision. Pankaj Jain, Partner at 500Startups feels that small towns can definitely produce world-class companies. The lacking of local support system is equally compensated by lower costs and lesser attrition in the smaller cities.
The ‘Hello English’ app by CultureAlley, which has it’s roots from Jaipur is the most popular educational apps on India’s Google Play Android store with over 4,50,000 downloads across more than 220 nations. Within 8 months of its launch it has become the No. 1 English learning and speaking app.
The company has now started making a foray in a B2B business model. They are currently teaching English via a customised mobile application to the 200 strong staff of an alcohol maker in the state. The emergence of entrepreneurs like Pranshu Patni is a clear indicator that women entrepreneurs are no longer a rare breed. According to GSV Advisors, the global language learning market is about $115 billion. To top that learning English language specifically in India has become crucial as it injects self-reliance and boosts self-esteem at the workplace. So going by these prospects itself we can safely assume that CultureAlley has very bright future ahead.