MyBuddy.ai, a startup that develops virtual tools to help kids learn English, announced today that it has raised $1 million in seed funding from LETA Capital. The capital will be used to expand into new markets and develop new features including mini-classes about health.

The San Francisco-based company’s app features a AI-based virtual tutor called Buddy who coaches kids through a series of exercises. According to MyBuddy.ai, there are 500 million children around the world who want to learn English, but don’t have someone to practice the language with. It claims that its app has been downloaded more than one million times since launching two years ago.

In a press statement, MyBuddy.ai co-founder and CEO Ivan Crewkov said, “The demand for online education is rising sharply due to the pandemic. This has exacerbated the chronic shortage of qualified English language teachers needed for half a billion kids struggling to learn English as a second language. Our AI-powered tutor Buddy can handle the mundane part of their work. He provides unlimited practice of spoken English, can scale to millions of students and is always available.”

Last month, MyBuddy.ai merged with Edwin, an edtech startup that also focuses on learning English for non-native speakers and whose investors include General Catalyst, Y Combinator and Google Assistant Investments Program. Edwin’s products included a chatbot based on adaptive learning and natural language understanding AI, and an on-demand tutoring service. The combined company kept the name MyBuddy.ai and is focused on integrating technology from both startups into the Buddy app.

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