Miami — For Martin Perri and Juan Ignacio Villarejo Arzivian, starting and building a company is nothing new. The two Argentines previously had a workout app called SinRutina that allowed people to workout at different gyms for one monthly subscription price. The company was acquired by Brazilian unicorn, Gympass, in 2018 for an undisclosed amount and Perri and Arzivian joined the Gympass team and traveled to Brazil a lot.
“When we were acquired, we had to travel often to São Paulo and we were the only ones in meetings that didn’t speak Portuguese. People switched to English because of us,” said Perri. The duo tried to learn Portuguese, but found it difficult to keep up the momentum on apps that didn’t provide any human interaction and that didn’t force you to schedule a time to learn.
“We saw the same happen with workouts. People go to more classes than going to the gym,” said Arzivian.
In response, the co-founding team launched a new company called Nulinga which teaches English, Portuguese and Spanish through a virtual private tutoring or class model.
“A teacher stays with you through the entire course. You take a class every week at the same time with the same teacher,” said Perri, who is Nulinga’s CEO.
After learning and admiring the Gympass business model which functions as a B2B company by selling its services to HR departments and offering workouts as a benefit, Nulinga decided to adopt the same model. The company offers the services to companies for a fee, they in turn offer the services to their employees for a co-payment, and Nulinga is responsible for paying the teachers.
Today the company is announcing its $1 million seed round led by Niu Ventures and with participation of GV Ventures and others. Gympass CEO, Cesar Carvalho, invested in the pre-seed round of $360K in July of 2020.
Today, Perri speaks Portuguese quite well, while Arzivian is still working on it. Nulinga is based in São Paulo, has 45 employees and about 2000 users. Some of their corporate clients include Ambev, Clarios, and Lalamove.
The company has operations in Brazil, Mexico, Chile & Argentina but addresses all the Latin American markets and has experienced 4.5x revenue growth year over year (YoY). They plan to use the money from this round to improve the product, further develop content and invest in marketing and sales.
In today’s day and age of remote work, many companies are finding the need to have employees who speak multiple languages, especially in Latin America where a company may be based in Brazil, but have employees in Spanish-speaking countries in the region, or vice versa. As companies go global, the natural result has been that employees are expected to speak English so they have a language in common.
So is the case with Nubank, Brazil’s recently minted IPO, where the official language is English, despite the founders being a mix of Brazilian, Colombian and American.
As a result, Nulinga has positioned itself as a corporate benefit, but also as a service for businesses that want to keep their current employees, but have them learn or improve in another language.
“We are helping companies go global,” said Arzivian.
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