ELSA, the mobile app for education that was developed by two Vietnamese women, Van Dinh Hong Vu (33 years old) and Ngo Thuy Ngoc Tu (29 years old) in collaboration with Dr. Xavier Anguera has won first place at the 2016 SXSWedu Launch startup competition.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual set of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. In 2011, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW Interactive lasting for 5 days, Music for 6 days, and Film running concurrently for 9 days.
SXSWedu Launch startup competition, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, serves as an opportunity for early stage startups in the education space to highlight their products and services in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. This years event attracted 1,200 technology companies globally to participate in the competition.
ELSA, which stands for English Language Speech Assistant, is a mobile application that helps people interested in learning English to pronounce English correctly. With an intelligence based learning system that can automatically recognize the pronunciation of different learners, ELSA can analyze each recorded syllable and instruct English learners how to pronounce English words accurately and speak English confidently.
ELSA has consulted with Paul Meier, an TV audio / video dubbing artist and an actor in several Hollywood movies as an advisor to help APP users learn “standard” English pronunciation similar to a native speaker. ELSA hopes to enable 1.5 billion learners to learn English easily and increase their language fluency at the lowest cost possible. The application is now available on both Android and iOS.
FPT Ventures and two other personal investors have invested into ELSA and this win from two Vietnamese has marked a notable achievement in creating and applying technology in education. ELSA’s win at SXSWedu will encourage start-ups in Vietnam and regionally to participate in events such as SXSW as a way of gaining exposure for their products and services and is a shot in the arm for Vietnam start-up / technology companies.