History of the Business
“Our revenue grew by about 40% in 2020 vs. 2019. With everybody stuck at home due to COVID-19, many people decided it was a great time to learn that language they always wanted to. We saw huge growth in March, which is staying high even now that many people are vaccinated and restrictions are being lifted,” said Ray Blakney, CEO and co-founder of Live Lingua, in an interview with Startup Savant.
Before starting the online language learning company, Blakney had run a traditional school. “Our first business was a chain of language schools in Mexico, which we sold in 2012,” he told Authority Magazine. Initially, Blakney started the brick-and-mortar business to provide Spanish lessons in 2008.
Roots in Spanish Language Learning Lessons
Live Lingua is best known for teaching Spanish. “We actually started off as an online Spanish school before expanding to other languages over the years. It is what we know best, since one of the Live Lingua co-founders, Laura Ramirez, is a Spanish teacher from Mexico,” commented Blakney.
Today, the online language learning business has expanded its reach into other languages like English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean. However, 60% of company revenue still comes from its Spanish language lessons.
“We decided that instead of trying to be another school online teaching many languages, Live Lingua would instead focus on being the best online Spanish school in the world,” added Blakney. The online language lessons company also helps students prepare for Spanish language exams such as the DELE (a Spanish diploma offered by Spain's Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) and ECELE (a Spanish language certification offered by the Mexican government).
Teacher Recruitment for Spanish Lessons
Live Lingua has expanded slowly so that the Spanish lessons company can maintain a high level of quality in its language learning platform. “The biggest challenge for Live Lingua was being able to hire and train teachers quickly enough to meet the demand. One of the things that makes Live Lingua different from the competitors is that we are not just a directory of people offering language tutoring where anybody can sign up. With us, you have to go through a multi-step interview process and give a sample class before we bring you on,” Blakney commented. In addition to the company interview process, the company also puts new teachers on a three-month trial.
In terms of formal qualifications, the business does not accept anybody who happens to know a language to teach Spanish lessons. “All of our teachers are required to have at least a college degree and two years of teaching experience. That being said, our average teacher has almost eight years of teaching experience, and about 30% of our teachers have Masters or PhDs,” he explained.
Over time, the business has expanded its human resources department to hire more teachers to provide online language lessons.
Search Engine Optimization Growth
The company achieved early wins with SEO to rank the online language learning platform by using relevant keywords. “We found some keywords in the Spanish education field that were not very competitive with regards to rank and worked to get to the top of the Google rankings,” Blakney observed. Based on this method, the language lessons business landed its initial set of online customers over the course of a year.
About the Author
Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.