New platform to learn language

The entire app is designed in the form of games and quizzes
Last Updated 29 August 2015, 18:29 IST
Going beyond the traditional business ethos, the young entrepreneurs of Jaipur have changed the way India learns and speaks the English language. CultureAlley's Hello English App, developed by a young techie couple in Jaipur, has become number one android application on the India Google Play store, within 11 months of its launch. With a rating of 4.5 on the scale of 5, the App offers audio visual English lessons in over 12 Indian languages and has been among the top 20 apps on Google Play across the world. Promoters claim that app is being used by over 35 lakh people across the globe.

The idea to develop language learning android application was conceived by Nishant Patni, a graduate from IIT-Mumbai and Kellogg School of Management. Patni roped in his fiancee Pranshu Bhandari in the project and the duo left their lucrative jobs in Gurgaon to pursue their dreams in Jaipur and develop CultureAlley, a platform that would teach Spanish, Mandarin and English through games and quizzes.

“It all happened when I was in Shanghai on an exchange programme. Like most Marwaris, I am a pure vegetarian. I found it extremely difficult to explain in Mandarin that I don't want non-vegetarian food. It was then, I decided to do something by using technology and break the language barriers,” said Nishant Patni, (31) who completed his schooling from Jaipur and graduated from IIT in 2007.

Patni returned to Gurgaon to join Khosla Ventures but the zeal to do something innovative kept him troubling all the while. With the idea to develop language learning application, Nishant and Pranshu left their jobs and launched the platform for the app, just before they got married in 2012. Thereafter, the two never looked back and continue to scale new heights.

It was in 2014, when CultureAlley changed its model from a website to a mobile version focused on English. The entire app is designed in the form of games and quizzes. The couple claim that it was for the first time when a language application was designed keeping in mind the needs of Indian learners. “So far, all the language applications available in India were initially designed for the learners in the West. In India, we get adopted versions. While designing CultureAlley's Hello English App we completely focused on needs of Indian audience, which are obviously different from the West. For example, we have a different diction and people here generally think in their regional language and try to translate it in English,” said Nishant.

The app not only helps you learn English but also improve the English pronunciation. “Ours is an interactive software that changes perspective of a normal Indian for English language,” he added.

Using CultureAlley’s Hello English app is good fun like playing any other mobile game. CultureAlley’s modules and interactive games try to address the basic problems of the Indians while learning the English language. What sets CultureAlley’s language courses apart from its competitors is their focus on making the subject a part of a daily routine. The software, for instance, inserts foreign (English) words in a user’s Facebook news feed so that individual becomes more comfortable with the language. This simple vocabulary building tool tempts user to subscribe to game-based learning tools.

The content of the app is generated and reviewed regularly by highly qualified linguists and teachers. “We have highly professional linguists and teachers who generate and review the content regularly. Many users find it as interesting as a game where they have to solve language-related challenges to unlock the next level,” said Nishant. In the meantime one learns English. Hello English app is available in 12 Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil and Gujarati, he added.

CultureAlley’s Hello English app is apparently the first attempt in India to launch a language application in most of the regional languages in the country. “This diversification helped us to achieve big results. We have same content in different languages. It helps people to learn English, even if they can't speak one common language in India,” said Nishant. 

Both Nishant and Pranshu operate their plush office from their residence located in a prime locality of Jaipur opposite to Birla Temple. Both are assisted by a team of highly qualified IT professionals. Many in the team are fresh graduates while several others have come from outside to join Team Hello English because Jaipur was their home town.

Commenting on the work environment and availability of talent pool in Jaipur, the promoters of CultureAlley claimed that IT students and professionals in Jaipur are no less competent and knowledgeable than their counterparts in big cities. “When we started in Jaipur we were worried about the availability of IT professionals. But, after two years I can comfortably say that talent in Jaipur is as good as the talented IT professionals in big cities like Bengaluru,” said Nishant.

There are several stories with the promoters, which they feel proud to share. They claim that people could not learn the language despite joining the language classes. They later used customised mobile application and performed much more than their individual acceptation.

 By now, several big companies have started approaching the promoters to provide English lessons to their staff by using the CultureAlley’s Hello English App. The app can be downloaded for free, but users have to pay or use tokens won in previous games if they want to access higher difficulty levels. The company has been generating revenues though advertisements on the app. Promoters are increasing their focus on mobile as the cost of acquiring customers is low and any new user pays them back in just a week’s time. Promoters said that company will soon focus on Business-to-Business model for generative more revenue. 

Hailing from the family of entrepreneurs, both Nishant and Pranshu feel that small towns have the ability to produce big companies. It’s the conviction, vision and hard work that make an entrepreneur tough enough to win over any professional challenge. 

(Published 29 August 2015, 17:55 IST)

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