Language learning app Pangea Chat

Language Learning App Pangea Chat Emerges During the Pandemic

DataDay Design is interviewing CEOs and Founders of start-ups and early-stage companies to talk about entrepreneurship and learn how these businesses are navigating the COVID-19 global health crisis. Our first interview is with Will Jordan-Cooley, co-founder, and lead instructional designer of Pangea Chat, a new mobile and web language learning app designed to help its users learn a language while communicating with their friends! 

You can read more of our interviews with America’s brightest entrepreneurs here.  

What is Pangea Chat, and How Did It Start?

The idea for Pangea Chat first began when Will visited a friend in Spain and tried to learn Spanish. He’d never taken Spanish before, so he started learning from square one with different platforms and by using Google Translate in his WhatsApp messages. 

Will says he quickly realized that he preferred in-message translation because he got to learn while having real conversations with real people.

With his background in the education industry, making educational games for companies and institutions like Nickelodeon and Columbia University, Will saw an opportunity. 

With advances in natural language processing, he realized he could create a valuable, structured language learning app experience built around people’s personal communications; his vision became Pangea Chat. 

With Pangea Chat, users can receive guidance and support to learn a language through their regular everyday conversations. It’s not just simple translations, but an entire ecosystem of learning including custom-built games based on users’ actual text conversations.

How Has the Global Health Crisis Affected Pangea Chat?

COVID-19 has caused a rapid shift to remote learning. That has created a new opportunity in the EdTech industry to support education. 

Pangea Chat initially focused on the individual learning market because getting into schools is difficult and time-consuming. However, the company ran into some network effects that proved difficult to get around. Most notably, it was extremely challenging to get new users to adopt the app without their friends using it first.

But with the global health crisis forcing a transition to online education, it became a good opportunity to break into schools. Suddenly, the U.S. education system was open to adopting new behaviors and systems of learning.

How is Pangea Chat Focusing on Development?

Pangea Chat is currently focusing on its beta for the K-12 classroom environment. 

In their conversations with teachers, one thing they’ve often heard is that other digital learning tools aren’t very interactive. Outside of the classroom, educators have dramatically fewer opportunities for back and forth learning exchanges. Pangea Chat is naturally suited to solving this gap since it’s designed to support language learning through conversation.

According to Will, the beautiful thing about the classroom environment is that it operates as its own little network. By developing its in-school model, Pangea Chat can simultaneously solve its network effect problem with the individual user model. 

With the classroom model, groups of friends in school will already have Pangea Chat. Therefore, attracting their other friends and family to join the platform will be much easier.  

Pangea Chat vs. Global Health

What Are Pangea Chat’s Takeaways From Participating in the Lighthouse Labs Seed Stage Accelerator? 

Customer discovery is an extremely important process. It’s not only essential to determine exactly what your customers want, but also to figure out exactly how to get buy-in from them.

Will notes that your platform might be the best solution that your customers need right now, but how you approach that conversation and your messaging is key. 

He mentions they learned that a compelling way to approach consumers is to say, “Hey, we want to hear your story and know who you are and what are your challenges”. Then, you can start to explain how you’re there to help. 

That consumer-first approach can be a more useful lead-in to your product than simply explaining why your product is great. Especially when you’re an early-stage company and your brand isn’t fully developed.

That is particularly true with teachers because their stories are rarely heard and they have quite a few to tell. This is no more evident than with Pangea Chat’s target group- language teachers. They typically receive less funding than most other subject departments in the United States.

What are the Next Steps for the Pangea Chat language learning app?

Pangea Chat is focused on conducting additional user research during its fall classroom pilot. The company plans to continue to improve both its classroom and individual learning product models. 

The company is also looking to bring on a late-stage co-founder to guide sales and fundraising. Pangea Chat expects to start seeking capital investment at the end of this calendar year.

You can read more of our interviews with America’s brightest entrepreneurs here

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DataDay Design is interviewing CEOs and Founders of start-ups and early-stage companies to chat about entrepreneurship
DataDay Design is interviewing CEOs and Founders of start-ups and early-stage companies to chat about entrepreneurship
DataDay Design is interviewing CEOs and Founders of pre-seed and recently seed-funded start-ups to talk to