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That is appropriate for the first winner of
Pitch Day: busuu.com. The
start-up company from Niesner and his
partner Adrian Hilti (38) is now
the world’s largest social network for online
learning — with currently 28 million
members. Every day, another 40,000 on average sign up.
“In more and more countries, language skills
are a prerequisite for upward mobility. The
market for language teaching is becoming
ever more important,” says Niesner. “But
since the introduction of the CD-ROM, there
has been barely any innovation.” He and Hilti
have changed this. Their brilliant idea: Whoever
registers at busuu.com is student and
teacher at the same time. On one hand, they
learn a new language with modern, interactive
learning units and mobile apps. On the
other hand, busuu.com members are available
as tutors for their own native language
— as a contact for other members to speak
to. “The visit abroad is virtually built-in,”
Niesner explains the busuu.com
principle: Whether with video chats or by
the correction of each other’s exercises.
Fun rather than force, and getting closer is
allowed: “Sure, friendships have been made
this way,” reports Niesner.
Because they want the growth to continue consistently, the first SevenVentures Pitch Day came at just the right time for the busuu.com bosses. In total, seven young company founders presented their business ideas to a top-class jury in London — and to the public, who were there in the hall and joining via an internet live stream. In the end, the result was surprisingly conclusive — among the experts as well as the more than 13,000 internet users who voted on Facebook. Busuu.com won the jury and the public award! The language-learning community can now present itself to the viewers of the ProSiebenSat.1 station group with advertising power worth EUR 4 million. This is an enormous strategic advantage, because experience shows that Europe’s gates are open to anyone who becomes known in the German-speaking region. Busuu.com also benefits from a consulting package worth EUR 60,000 provided by renowned agencies including the online marketing specialists of the Booming agency, another ProSiebenSat.1 subsidiary. “Of course we celebrated on Pitch Day,” says Bernhard Niesner — and sounds like he is in seventh heaven. “We have now reached a size from which we can grow further with TV advertising — because we can reach brand new target groups.”
New growth ahead: Bernhard Niesner expects the TV presence at ProSiebenSat.1 to provide a major boost for his online language school.
SevenVentures Managing Director Dr. Hari
Sven Krishnan has no doubts about that. “Our
motto is: You have ideas — we have the power
to implement them. We combine promising
business models with the opportunities that
only Germany’s strongest TV network can
provide.” The sensational rise of Zalando has
demonstrated how well that works. The
model: SevenVentures provides advertising
presence and in return receives company
shares (“Media for Equity”) or a share in
(“Media for Revenue Share”). “Pitch
Day helps us to present ourselves internationally
and find new potential partnerships.
And on the side, we can learn a new
says Dr. Krishnan.