Our investment in Cambly

What inspired us to invest into the global online language learning industry.

The demand for high quality education exists across the globe, yet democratizing this learning has historically been challenging. However, with the rise of remote education via video, horizons expand not only for aspiring students, but also for people willing to help educate, too. At Bessemer, we’ve seen this trend play out particularly in the English as a second or foreign language (ESL) market.

Learning to read and write English can mostly be accomplished by reading books or leveraging apps, but live practice is the best way to learn conversational skills. With Cambly—the global, English learning marketplace—people all over the world can easily connect with native English speakers to engage in one-on-one video lessons and practice speaking English.

The Bessemer team first met with co-founders Sameer Shariff and Kevin Law for 18 months before the opportunity to partner with them through an investment arose. A short time after, Jeremy met with the team again as they were seeing tremendous demand in their core markets of Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Turkey, Korea, Japan, and China.

Through continued interactions, Jeremy became increasingly convinced that Sameer and Kevin had discovered a way to provide extremely high quality English language learning education, in a highly scalable way, to people across the globe. Moreover, Jeremy became ever more impressed with the thoughtful and ambitious approach to building, evidenced by the incredible efficiency of the company even as it navigated rapid growth.

The global online language learning industry is a more than $14 billion annual market anticipated to reach over $28 billion by 2028. From our research, we only anticipate demand for English language learning to continue to grow as English skills are still critical in many industries to access better education and career opportunities. Plus, as the global pandemic accelerated global and remote work, internet culture removes physical barriers and highlights opportunities in English-speaking countries. Cambly is a win-win for all: The platform brings down the cost of learning English and the language marketplace also improves the availability of English language training around the globe.

As early stage backers of the team, Bessemer is excited to celebrate Cambly’s momentum. We’re proud to see the massive impact Sameer, Kevin, and the entire team are having on the world: Helping people across different cultures learn English and remove the language barrier to connecting with others.