[Korean Startup Interview] Mirinae Technologies: A Korean Language Learning Platform with Global AmbitionsReading Time: 6 minutes
The global Korean wave has led to a surge in interest in the Korean language. However, despite this interest, there are still many challenges in terms of Korean language learning resources and methodologies. Mirinae Technologies is a bold and tech-savvy startup that has entered the global market to address these challenges.
Mirinae is based on the “Mirinae Jeongeum” engine, which was developed by John Wainwright, the CTO of Mirinae. Wainwright is a software engineer with over 50 years of experience in Silicon Valley. He developed the engine himself after struggling to learn Korean.
Mirinae’s core feature is its “comprehensive learning” functionality. This allows users to input a sentence and receive grammar, examples, and other relevant information all at once. This is a convenient feature that eliminates the need to use multiple tools, such as a translator, dictionary, and grammar book. Mirinae also focuses on providing examples of sentences that are used in everyday life to improve users’ language proficiency in real-world situations.
The engine is highly accurate, handling 95% of idioms, slang, and proverbs. Mirinae is currently available in 10 languages and is used by over 100,000 users in 210 countries. The company’s target customers are primarily 18-30-year-old women who are interested in K-pop and Korean culture.
Mirinae’s business model is a subscription service. The B2C service costs $11.99 per month, or $5.99 per month for connected users. The B2B school contract price varies depending on the country or connection. The B2B model includes additional features such as a teacher dashboard and school-specific customization.
What problems is Mirinae trying to solve?
Mirinae is trying to solve the challenges that foreigners face when learning Korean. The Korean Wave is spreading around the world, and many fans want to learn Korean, but the current Korean language learning environment is not able to meet this demand. There are not enough Korean language learning institutions, and there are long waiting periods.
Korean is a difficult language for English speakers, especially due to the complex conjugation system. For example, to understand and learn a sentence from a drama, you need to use a translator, a grammar book, and a dictionary. The existing learning methods also lack content that covers actual usage cases.
In this situation, Mirinae understands the situation faced by learners and wants to provide a service that allows them to effectively learn Korean through Mirinae.
How does Mirinae solve these problems?
Mirinae allows learners to do “comprehensive learning” when learning Korean. When you enter a sentence you want to learn, grammar, examples, and other relevant information are all provided. This eliminates the need to use multiple services at the same time. Mirinae also provides examples of sentences that are used in everyday life to improve learners’ language proficiency in real-world situations.
In addition to these core features, Mirinae also offers a variety of other content, such as lessons using K-pop or drama content, as well as slang and proverbs. This allows learners to learn Korean in a fun and engaging way.
What are Mirinae’s products and services?
Mirinae’s products include Mirinae Explorer, which allows users to analyze sentences; Mirinae Lesson, which allows users to learn grammar; and Wikinae, a Korean cultural dictionary that teaches slang and other vocabulary. In addition, Mirinae offers a variety of other services, such as a grammar dictionary and a Chrome extension that allows users to learn while watching YouTube videos.
Mirinae Explorer uses machine learning, natural language processing, and compiler technology to analyze Korean sentences by breaking them down into morphemes. This allows users to learn the meaning, grammar, grammar patterns, and idioms of the sentence. Learners can use Mirinae Explorer to learn sentences from everyday life, song lyrics, movie dialogue, and other sources. In the future, Mirinae Explorer will be used to create a content explorer that allows users to learn from Korean content.
Mirinae Lesson is a service that allows users to learn grammar from beginner to advanced levels. In addition to explanations, Mirinae Lesson offers features that make learning fun, such as quizzes, and introductions to K-pop songs that use the grammar pattern being studied.
Wikinae is a Korean-language Urban Dictionary that collects slang terms such as “matjal”. This allows learners to easily understand and learn slang and cultural expressions.
Who is your target market and your key customers?
Mirinae primarily targets 18-30 year old women. Currently, Mirinae is used by approximately 100,000 users in 210 countries. Our key target customers are users who are interested in K-culture and Hallyu, as well as Korean language departments at universities and educational institutions.
The Korean language education market is estimated to be worth approximately 160 million people, and of those, 3.2 million people are actively learning Korean. The number of applicants for the Korean Language Proficiency Test is also increasing by 15% each year.
In line with this trend, we are working with universities with Korean language departments and Korean language education institutions to expand our services into the B2B market.
What is Mirinae’s business model?
Currently, our business model is a subscription service. The B2C service costs $11.99 per month, or $5.99 per month for connected users.
In the case of B2B school contracts, we apply separate fees depending on the connection or country. The B2B model includes various features in addition to Mirinae’s basic services, such as a teacher dashboard and school-specific customization.
What are Mirinae’s achievements?
Mirinae has achieved a number of successes in recent months. We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a sales partner in India, and we are actively discussing supply contracts with universities in Bangalore.
We will soon be launching a B2B school version. We have also filed nine domestic patents, seven PCT patents, and two US patents. After introducing our paid service in December, our revenue increased by approximately 4.5 times. We received investment from Big Bang Angels in 2022 and received the highest rating in Google’s ‘Changu Program’, which recognizes our potential and technology. In the past year, we have created 50 new lessons, launched a Korean culture dictionary, and released a starter for beginners. We are constantly developing new content.
What is Mirinae’s competitive advantage?
Mirinae has a strong team with a proven track record. Our CEO, Hwan-Soo Ryu, has over 30 years of experience as a software engineer. Our CTO, John Wainwright, is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 50 years of development experience and four successful business exits. They met as language exchange partners in Silicon Valley, and John proposed the business idea in 2019. He had developed a machine learning engine while studying Korean for three years. We decided to co-found the company in 2020.
What is the reason you need investment?
There are three reasons why we need investment. First, the Korean language education market is a growing market. The popularity of Korean content such as K-pop and K-dramas is exploding around the world, leading to increased global demand for Korean. The Korean language learning market is constantly growing in response to this trend. We also expect that Korean will become the second foreign language in some countries, such as India, which will lead to even more demand.
Second, we plan to develop a personalized AI tutor by further developing our machine learning capabilities. Mirinae uses the latest machine learning and natural language processing technologies to optimize the learning experience for users. We are constantly training and improving our machine learning, and in the future, we want to help users learn Korean more efficiently with the help of an AI tutor that provides 1:1 instruction.
Third, we plan to expand the language of learning and make a full-fledged entry into the global market. The service is currently available in 10 languages, and over 100,000 users are actively using it every month. We plan to expand the language of learning in the future. Currently, you can learn Korean in English, Japanese, and other languages, but in the future, we plan to expand the language of learning using Mirinae’s technology, such as learning English in Japanese and Japanese in Spanish.
What efforts are you making to expand overseas?
We are currently working to expand our service to universities in Bangalore, India. This will help us strengthen our presence in the Indian market and provide a better experience for learners through partnerships with educational institutions.
In addition, we already offer services in 10 languages, including English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, and Mongolian. This allows users around the world to learn in a variety of languages according to their needs.
In the future, we plan to launch a content explorer that uses K-pop lyrics, which is what our users have been asking for the most. We also plan to expand our services to more languages. We expect to provide rich and personalized learning experiences to consumers in the global market through these efforts. We will also actively collect feedback from overseas markets to continuously improve our services.
Overall, Mirinae is a promising startup with a strong team, innovative technology, and global ambitions. The company is well-positioned for success in the growing Korean language education market.
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