How ‘Language Your Way’ is Thriving in a Global Market

Hub Southern Cross member Pawan Lalwani has taken an idea for a game with a difference to one of the largest markets in the world, and it’s won him accolades such as Startup of the Year.

Pawan has experience with the realities of the global market, and has worked to bring his learning tool to a whole new audience, including customising his product for different audiences and markets.

Language Your Way (LYW) is an app that we’ve launched in China, with the aim of teaching English to kids using game-based-learning that adapts to the user, helping them focus on areas they may be struggling with in the new language.

I’m not Chinese, and don’t speak the language, but I started a business which teaches English to these kids through an app.

How did you research your target market?

My very first year was pure R&D into – I took trips to multiple cities in China, mainly first, second, and third-tier cities. In the Australian context, we would first go to Melbourne, and research there, then Geelong and Ballarat, and then Mildura.

Through travelling, we realised that third-tier cities in China, were the sweet spot for us. No businesses target them, and when we spoke to Austrade (a government wing) in the cities we visited, they were hesitant as global companies did not routinely target them due to multiple barriers including language and cultural differences.

However, we persevered as they have over a million people residing in each city and we saw an untapped market rather than the various barriers that others saw.

Our major focus at the moment is China.

One of our partners has access to 1,500 kindergartens – which amounts to 300,000 kids.

That is equal to the total number of kids born in Australia each year. That’s the enormity of the Chinese market and the biggest advantage in looking at a global market.

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What is your business model?

Language Your Way primarily operates on a business to business to customer model. We work with schools and resellers and sell our platform through their distribution channels. As of 8th December 2018, we will not only be available through our resellers but also on Chinese app stores (iOS and Android) directly.

As a startup that was bootstrapped, we’ve always been contractor based similar to Uber’s model.

We have heaps of people come in to work with us at Hub Southern Cross where we are able to get day passes.

We have eight contractors in our technical team, three in the education team, two in operations, and a few remote. Our team spans over Hong Kong, Beijing, LA, Mumbai and Melbourne.

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What recognition have you received in the global market?

Language Your Way has won awards in China – we were finalists at Chengdu Innovate, and winners (Australia & New Zealand division) of a competition called Nanjing OCP, where the local government sponsored us to pitch for a government contract.

We have the distinction of being the first education technology startup to participate in the Landing Pad (Shanghai), a federal government initiative that is a part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda Program.

The program supports market-ready startups in one of five global locations for 90 days, and startups receive support from Austrade and state officers.

After three months there, we raised a round of investment from a Chinese investor.

We were fortunate to get a lot of attention from local media in China. We were featured in Beijing Business Today, CCTV, Shanghai Daily, TechNode (TechNode is TechCrunch China), Benhai Daily, to name a few.

In addition to that, only a few months ago Language Your Way bagged the prestigious ‘Startup of the Year (Victoria)’ by iAwards. To be honest, we didn’t expect to win. When they announced, “The winner goes to Language Your Way”, I was probably the most surprised and immensely humbled.

Have your recent awards opened new doors in Australia?

The awards and recognition definitely add credibility. I think the timing is impeccable – now when we approach associations, we’re not only saying that it’s happened in China but we’re saying we’ve been recognized in the global market in multiple countries.

We’re at the stage where we plan to launch in Australia early next year. We have had a successful soft launch and localized the product for the Australian market.

We’re probably one of the few companies who instead of starting with Australia and scaling to different countries, started with China before getting into Australia.

In China, Language Your Way is marketed as a game-based learning platform where we are teaching English through games.

In Australia, however, we’re introducing it as a literacy app and mapping the curriculum into the content so it works more effectively to an Australian audience. These are examples of small strategic changes that you make to appeal to different markets.

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In each country, we have to see how kids are learning and at what age they adapt and use technology platforms. For example, through our Beta-testing we noted that kids in China pick up technology much earlier than in Australia – here, parents don’t want to give their kids a tablet and limit their screen time until a child is around three and a half.

However, in China, the kids are interacting with technology fluently by the time they’re three.

Before we formally launch in Australia, we are speaking with Early Learning Australia to advise on gaps before we release the game on the app stores.

Everything is adding up, and Language Your Way is set to keep growing in the global market!

Hub Australia has members of all industries continuing to kick goals – including Startup of the Year Language Your Way. If you want to join an Australia-wide network of growing successful businesses, with the ability to travel and cowork globally through our LExC network, book a tour today or find out more.

Interview by Jasmin Ashton

Jasmin Ashton is Hub Australia’s Content Marketing Lead. They love sharing stories of Hub members and the amazing things they do to grow their businesses and change the world.