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EdTech 20 2015: Interview with the CEO of busuu, EdTech 2014 winner


The third edition of the EdTech 20 competition has opened its application process to all education companies interested! This year’s shortlisted EdTech 20 winners will include “education companies who have shown the most significant innovation and growth over the last year and whose businesses are primarily based within Europe”.

The 20 European EdTech awards for 2015 will be announced at EdTech Europe on June 18th, but you only have until April 30th to apply. The EdTech Europe 2015 event will bring together a global network of influencers, key executives and changemakers from all over Europe, with more than 60 speakers addressing topics on global key trends and business models. Last year’s edition welcomed over 300 EdTech innovators, and the 2015 edition will focus on “industry, innovation, investors and teachers.”

We had the opportunity to meet Bernhard Niesner, co-founder and CEO of busuu, one of the top 20 EdTech companies in 2014. Busuu is an innovative online community for language learning, offering e-learners free access to a large selection of digital material and the opportunity to work and practice with the help of native speakers. Created in 2009, the website has become the world’s largest social network for language learning. It won the Tech Crunch award for Best Education Startup in 2011 and the BETT EdTech Innovator Award in 2014. Their website has been declared among the best free language learning apps by PC Magazine and lauded by The New York Times.

Busuu keeps on moving forward… along with its victory at EdTech 20, the company has launched two iPad apps for kids; and in April 2014, busuu partnered with education giant Pearson to allow users access to qualify for the  gSET certificate in English. Bernhard Niesner has told us that they are now preparing to “strongly focus on social and mobile in 2015”

Bernhard Niesner


How is busuu making a difference in education?

Busuu provides access to efficient, fun and affordable language learning to more than 50 million users, whenever they want and wherever they are.

Users are not only able to study the language by themselves but they can also practice their skills with native speakers within the busuu community.


What are the prospects for language learning today?

By the use of technology, busuu makes language learning not only available 24/7 but also tries to make the whole process more efficient. We store the entire individual learning history of all our users and soon we will be able to create a completely customised learning experience, which will reduce the time it takes to learn another language.


In what way do apps transform traditional business and education?

With mobile apps, users gain 24/7 access to a 'personal trainer' in their pocket. This will automatically lead to higher engagement and therefore better learning outcome than desktop or offline learning solutions.


What were the most effective outcomes of success of the competition?

The best testament of success for busuu is if our users actually learn another language and refer busuu to their friends.


What motivated  you to participate in the EdTech 20 event?

EdTech 20 is a very prestigious event and it’s a great honour to be named as one of the Top European Edtech companies.


Do you have any advice for EdTech Europe 2015 applicants?

Just go for it!