The first time we talked with Diego Villegas, CEO and co-founder of Slang, he shared with us his motivation for building Slang and how in his previous role as a manager he realized that there was no industry-specific English learning solution that could meet the needs of professionals and businesses. He lived the problem with his past company, where he spent over a quarter million dollars on English programs and didn’t get the results that he was expecting. I was impressed at how well Diego understood the market need for language education. As a non-native English speaker myself, I clearly saw the need and opportunity for a better English learning platform in Latin America. In Peru, where I grew up, only 4 out of 100 people speak English fluently.
Entrepreneurial track record
I had met Diego through an introduction made by Antonia Roja, Partner of ALLVP, which had led the seed round. At that time, Antonia was part of the startup’s board. After speaking with Antonia, what first caught my attention was that Diego had a successful track record leading and selling a business, something few startups founders I had come across had achieved. This introduction occurred in 2020 following the outbreak of Covid-19 during the pandemic. For the first time, we were forced to adapt our investment process and meet Diego through Zoom. Although we couldn’t meet in person, Diego had one of the best investor data rooms that I had ever seen. We could find all the information we needed to prepare, analyze and evaluate the opportunity to present to our investment committee. Also, Slang’s current investors, ALLVP and InQlab, helped me with additional information and reference calls. This information confirmed both my initial interest in the market opportunity and the execution ability of Diego, and his co-founder, Kamran. We moved quickly to become Slang’s first investor from Peru and Slang became our first investment during the pandemic. We were, and we are, convinced by Slang’s mission to use technology to redefine language learning in the workforce.
Company and value proposition
Slang is an all-in-one professional English learning platform. The company leverages in machine learning methods to create a fluid and comprehensive coursework that highlights relevant terminology for specific verticals, industries, and job positions. Slang currently has end-users learning from over 100 courses across several industries including Engineering, Healthcare, Human Resources, Management, Sales and Marketing. Slang’s courses have been designed to build fluency in career-specific English. The company creates and continually optimizes the user’s learning path in real time based on their knowledge and performance. This allows users to learn at their own rhythm and have an excellent experience with the solution. Slang focuses on teaching the most important English terms using real-world examples. Along the way, Slang tracks in real-time the progress of the learners in reading, writing, listening and speaking to create a holistic experience and learning. Slang charges an annual subscription depending on the quantity of learners. Slang’s team works closely with clients to provide the best English education service possible. The value-add that Slang was giving to their clients was evident due to the clients’ willingness to pay a higher amount to train more employees. Companies can track in real time their employees’ progress, measuring time spent on the platform, assigning courses and tests to employees and new hires. Slang has been working with Nestlé, Banco Santander, Viva Aerobus, GNP, Glencore, VFC, Hyatt, Cruz Verde, Cencosud, Cornershop, and Crehana, among others.
Slang tracks in real-time the progress of the learners in reading, writing, listening and speaking to create a holistic experience and learning.
Experienced and complementary team
We were impressed with the experience and knowledge that Diego and Kamran brought to Slang. They detected a global unmet need for industry-specific English language learning and used their experience to solve it. The team had broad experience in sales, entrepreneurship and technology. Diego is a serial entrepreneur, his first company MASA, an asset integrity firm for clients in the Oil & Gas, Chemical and Power Industries, achieved $200 million in annual revenue and was acquired by Stork. The experience managing MASA helped Diego to prove the necessity of specialized English language because he couldn’t find a good program for his employees. Kamran brings technological experience to the team with his diverse background in web technologies, UI/UX design and implementation, and data science. He holds a Master in Computer Science and Engineering with a concentration in Computer Graphics and Human–Computer Interfaces from MIT. Diego and Kamran have developed a culture oriented towards results, built on trust and autonomy. They have a team of more than 100 employees, 43% of which are women, across Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and the United States.
Slang has impacted users in 13 countries including Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Panama, and Nicaragua, and over 91,000 courses have been completed by learners. At the end of 2021, Slang raised $14 million to continue its mission to give access to specialized-English lessons to employees around the world. The proceeds of the round will be to invest in technology, improve product and expand the course catalog. We are proud to be part of a company who is helping people to achieve their professional goals by giving them the knowledge and tools to improve their English skills.