Learning a new language is quite an intricate process considering that you’re not new to that language and understanding the language from scratch is a mountainous task. Especially if you consider choosing a language you are completely new to; it could be Spanish, Italian, French, or any other language. But if you’re someone looking to learn Chinese from scratch and want a complete helping hand, then Laoshi can help you out explicitly.
Laoshi is a language learning application that assists in learning Chinese from scratch. It’s where users can understand the vocabulary to use the words, train with the help of writing down the language and even understand when and where words are to be used. With so much to offer, Venture Mirror had an exciting time interviewing Sergei Kondrashov, the founder and CEO of Laoshi, to understand his thought process behind the company’s inception and how the company is changing the way people learn the language of Chinese. All the excerpts from the conversation are provided as follows.
What is the startup / product / venture about? Give us a brief description of it.
Education platform for learning Mandarin Chinese. Laoshi users learn from wide-ranging Chinese word lists, prepared from textbooks and HSK.
How many co-founders are there? Please introduce them and their backgrounds.
Danil Khasanshin, BDM, Former CEO at vc.ru — the largest digital media in Russia about start-ups, businesses and VCs, 8 mln MAU.
Sergei Kondrashov, CEO, 10 years experience in teaching Mandarin Chinese and managing offline language courses in 6 cities. Author and publisher of Mandarin Chinese study books for beginners.
Oleksii Salnicov, Art Director
How did you come up with the idea? What motivated you to do this?
We have 10 years of background teaching Mandarin in offline courses and online, launched and closed https://laoshi.ru, published and still sell study books for beginners (https://book.laoshi.ru/textbook1), D2C. All 10 years the most difficult task for our customers was Mandarin words and characters. People used to use Anki + Quizlet + Trainchinese + Dictionary to learn words + they used to write characters on the paper to remember them. So we decided to make “all in 1 tool” for it
Who is your target market? Why do you think your product will appeal to them?
We target students who learn Chinese from the beginning to master.
We are in contact with many students and teachers to make a perfect product for them.
Who are your competitors? How are you different from them?
1. Quizlet, Memrise
3. Duolingo, Busuu, HelloChinese, ChineseSkill
4. Paper workbooks, paper flashcards and other traditional ways to learn languages
The following competitors pose these possible threats:
– Quizlet could expand their Mandarin Chinese vocabulary tools.
– Companies funded by the Chinese government could potentially have many more resources and funding to compete.
– There is a fear that people will stick to traditional ways of learning Mandarin through printed materials.
We are super-focused on tools for learning Mandarin Chinese and support all of the necessary features to learn Mandarin words and characters. Our goal sounds like “every Mandarin Chinese learner will have Laoshi app in her/his device.
What are the future plans with the product/startup? Any new features you are planning on?
According to our roadmap, we will work on the entire product at least during the next 10 months. After that we will work on other tools for learning Mandarin Chinese.