Tutor Lily

Your personal AI language partner

🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week:

Tutor Lily

✍️ Notes from the Editors

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- Arek and Ethan 🦄

Your personal AI language partner

Tutor Lily is an app powered by ChatGPT that functions as a chatbot and partner for language learning. To get started, users choose a language they want to learn or practice, as well as their native language. Tutor Lily then enables users to have practice conversation, while also providing explanations for any mistakes in their native language.

🔗 Check it out: tutorlily.com

💰 Business Model

Tutor Lily has a free offering as well as a paid subscription (monthly or annual). The free tier limits users to 10 messages per day, as well as two mistake explanations per day. The premium subscription removes all limits and includes practice flashcards.

📈 Traction and Fundraising

  • Fully bootstrapped since launching in April 2023

  • Downloaded over 50,000 times across multiple continents (North America, Asia, South America, and Europe)

  • Premium was launched about 6 months ago, this past summer

👫 Founders

Vinny Palumbo, Founder

Vinny Palumbo was born in Canada and spoke French as his first language. When learning and practicing English, he found that it could be intimidating to practice in front of others, worrying about making a mistake or not getting good instruction or feedback when making mistakes. In addition, teachers are often restricted by time and availability. Imagine learning a language from a native speaker, but they are in a time zone that is much ahead or behind yours — you would lose out on meaningful opportunities for judgment-free practice. These pain points resonated with Palumbo and inspired him to create Tutor Lily.

His education and professional experience also naturally led him to bootstrap Tutor Lily. Palumbo studied math and statistics while in school and got a job as a data scientist initially. He built up a strong foundation when it came to data, but also really liked building and launching things himself. So, he pivoted his career to machine learning development and started his own application development agency before founding Tutor Lily. 

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🔮 Our Analysis

Tutor Lily addresses some notable pain points when it comes to learning a new language. Learning a new language requires practice and making mistakes, often through conversation. However, as is the case with most things, nobody likes to make mistakes in front of their peers, and they may not receive helpful explanations when they do. In addition, there is no guarantee that language learners can find good teachers who can teach said language and also teach it using the learner’s native tongue. Tutor Lily understands these pain points from firsthand experience, and can empathize with the user demographic (language learners). This founder-product fit is a strong building block for the company. 

By leveraging AI (specifically ChatGPT), Tutor Lily has more capacity and availability than a human teacher. And by using ChatGPT, the Tutor Lily team does not have to build language models from scratch, instead building off of pre-existing models from OpenAI. As we’ve seen from many companies during this AI boom, this is a double-edged sword—it benefits from the robust models from OpenAI that have been trained on copious amounts of language data and streamlines the development process. But, this dependency also leaves them at the mercy of OpenAI. Should OpenAI be down or provide inaccurate responses, Tutor Lily will be impacted. This is why Palumbo intends to continue building more niche-specific features with the hopes that down the road, more language-focused features can’t be cannibalized by OpenAI and other tech companies building AI chatbots like Google and Meta. 

While EdTech is a fairly crowded space, with companies such as Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel occupying a large portion of the market, the magnitude of the addressable market of language learners and Tutor Lily's unique value proposition helps it stand out against the competition and carve its own lane.

📚 Further Reading

Written by Matthew Huo

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