AI All Contents edutech Startup News in Korea (Korean Startup News) wowtalk

[Korean Startup Interview] EZContentsLab: Enjoying AI-Based 3D Korean Learning for Foreigners Like a Game

2024-03-04 7 min read


[Korean Startup Interview] EZContentsLab: Enjoying AI-Based 3D Korean Learning for Foreigners Like a Game

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The number of foreigners interested in learning Korean is increasing annually, with more than 2 million new learners each year. This interest is significantly driven by the global popularity of K-pop, K-dramas, and other Korean cultural content, collectively known as the Korean Wave, which has also fueled the enthusiasm for learning the Korean language.

Moreover, the rising number of foreigners residing in Korea and the increase in multicultural families have continuously boosted the demand for Korean language education. It is estimated that around 200 million people worldwide are interested in learning Korean, with the market for such education valued at approximately KRW 2 trillion.

Despite the high demand and interest, the challenge of learning the Korean script, pronunciation, and spelling leads many foreigners to abandon their studies. EZContentsLab aims to tackle these challenges by making the learning process easier and more enjoyable from an IT perspective.

EZContentsLab has made the learning process more engaging by gamifying the memorization of difficult spellings and words, thereby lowering the entry barrier. It also offers personalized courseware tailored to the learners’ objectives and interests. Additionally, the company provides a community space for Korean learners worldwide to motivate each other.

Targeting a global audience, EZContentsLab supports all internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs, through its online Korean learning platform. It is developing an online 3D metaverse space where learners can engage with various contents in a game-like environment. The launch of this platform is anticipated in the first half of this year.

Before founding EZContentsLab in September 2021, CEO Dong-gun Lee applied his experience from working at various game companies to develop games himself. He established a game company focused on creating educational games that avoid speculative or violent content, dedicating over seven years to development. With expertise in integrating games and education, Lee is now developing services at EZContentsLab that make learning Korean as fun as playing a game.

With a seed investment round planned for the first quarter of this year, CEO Dong-gun Lee of EZContentsLab expressed confidence, stating, “We have been developing educational software with a clear goal and philosophy, supported by a team that is well-equipped with the necessary personnel, technology, and expertise. We have already received inquiries regarding global expansion and service usage even before our official launch. We are in need of additional professionals, including marketers and AI machine learning experts. Our team’s strong teamwork and know-how, cultivated over nearly 20 years of working together, are our greatest strengths.”

What problem does EZContentsLab aim to solve?

Annually, the number of foreigners wanting to learn Korean increases by over 2.2 million, yet many discontinue their studies prematurely. We attribute the high dropout rate to three primary reasons.

First is the uniqueness of the Korean alphabet, Hangul. Seventy percent of foreign learners report difficulties with the Hangul’s unique consonants, vowels, and spelling, as they are unaccustomed to assembling characters horizontally or vertically.

Second, the required study time presents a significant barrier. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Korean necessitates two to three times more basic study time than other languages due to its complex spelling, usage of verb endings, honorifics, and Chinese characters, among other unique features.

Third, the challenge of self-study is evident. The majority of self-learners rely on YouTube or standalone smartphone apps, leading to a lack of practical language use opportunities and a decrease in motivation over time.

The prevalent use of smartphone apps for self-study also poses problems. Seventy-five percent of learners are hobbyists interested in Korean culture or the Korean Wave, yet most apps cater to TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) preparation or are designed for short-term language learning, lacking in-depth content.

The absence of differentiation from existing materials further complicates learning. The cycle of solving problems, advancing, and then facing more problems can cause learners to drop out when they encounter difficulties.

Moreover, being standalone platforms, these apps do not support interactive elements such as competition, collaboration, information exchange, communication, showing off, or group learning activities. The fact that over 15,000 schools and institutions globally teach Korean without suitable materials highlights this issue.

How does EZContentsLab propose to address this issue?

EZContentsLab intends to reduce the barrier to entry by transforming the challenging process of memorizing difficult spellings and words into an engaging game-like experience and by offering personalized courseware aligned with the learners’ objectives and interests to improve learning efficiency. Additionally, we provide a community space for Korean learners worldwide to enhance motivation through mutual support.

What competitive advantages and technological strengths does EZContentsLab have?

EZContentsLab holds two patents in language learning technology. Our learning content, which merges gamification with edutech, simplifies and makes the process of learning the complex Korean alphabet engaging and enjoyable. We provide a unique experience where Korean language learners worldwide can meet and interact as avatars in an online 3D space, facilitating collaborative learning. Additionally, we leverage user raw data analysis and A.I. (machine learning) to offer personalized Korean language courseware tailored to individual learners.

What services does EZContentsLab offer?

We provide an online Korean language learning platform targeted at international users, compatible with all internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs. This platform brings learners from around the globe together in an online 3D metaverse space, where they can enjoy various gamification-based contents and learn in unison. The development is currently underway, with a planned release in the first half of this year.

What is the target market size and key customer base for EZContentsLab?

The total addressable market (TAM) consists of 200 million individuals globally interested in learning Korean, representing a KRW 2 trillion market. On the institutional side, there are more than 15,000 schools and organizations worldwide. The serviceable available market (SAM) includes 35.6 million individual learners, such as Korean Wave fans and those learning for specific reasons (employment, immigration, naturalization, multicultural families), and over 6,039 educational institutions that are actively offering Korean language or Korean studies courses. The serviceable obtainable market (SOM) is focused on 1.09 million young people aged 10-30 in 16 ASEAN countries who are learning Korean as a hobby and are spending between $50 to $250 monthly on Korean language education, as well as 90 public institutions currently engaged in Korean language education projects targeting foreigners or global audiences.

What is the business model of EZContentsLab?

We are preparing a subscription-based service model for B2C, B2B, and B2G segments, with monthly fees ranging from KRW 8,900 to 89,000. In the B2C segment, both hobby learners and those learning for specific purposes can subscribe according to their preferences. For B2B and B2G segments, there are five subscription options available, enabling institutions to tailor their subscriptions based on their objectives.

What are the team’s accomplishments so far?

We carried out a pilot service targeting 15 universities across 13 countries, involving 36 professional professors and 532 individual learners, from October 30 to November 15, 2023. The pilot was conducted in countries such as France, Italy, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Slovakia, and Korea.In 2023, our projects were selected for inclusion in a Korean government startup support program.

We have also received a service proposal for utilizing our materials from KJobs Corporation (a project supporting the domestic induction of foreign workers), with a service launch planned for June 2024. This service targets 1,500 subscribers per month, planning a monthly subscription fee of KRW 60,000 to 80,000 per individual.

What competitive advantages does the EZContentsLab team possess?

Dong-gun Lee, the CEO, majored in Korean Language and Literature and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Kyung Hee University. Additionally, he is an award-winning expert in gamification for educational software, having received three awards in this area. He has also participated in over 100 lectures and broadcasts on game literacy and gamification. With 22 years of experience, he has developed 23 games.

In terms of key development personnel, our Chief Product Officer (CPO) joined EZContentsLab after a 26-year tenure at companies like Netmarble, and our program team leader has amassed 14 years of experience at establishments such as CJ Edu. Our graphic and art team leaders each boast 15 years of experience, having worked for industry giants like Netmarble and Gamevil(Com2uS), respectively.

The CEO and all key development staff have fostered strong teamwork and synergy, having collaborated on projects at the same development company for over a decade and sharing direct service operation experience as colleagues.

EZContentsLab is further bolstered by an advisory board comprising educational experts. This includes Professor Kim Ji-hyung, the twentieth president of the Bilingualism Society; Professor Lee Min-woo, a linguist recognized in the top 100 H-index researchers in 2022; Professor Kim Jin-hae, who was in charge of the 2021 online Sejong Hakdang operation project; and Professor Ahn Sung-bum, director of the Kyung Hee University K-Culture Story Research Institute.

Why should we receive investment? Three reasons.

First, our clear business direction and development capabilities have enabled us to create a globally viable prototype in less than two years. This prototype has undergone market assessment and global pilot testing, attracting service proposals from numerous institutions and companies even before our official launch.

Second, the gamification expertise and know-how of our CEO and development team stand out. Their innovative ideas and technical skills have garnered several awards and led to selection in government startup support programs.

Third, to stay ahead of potential competitors seeking to emulate our success, we need continuous content updates. This necessitates the recruitment of specialized marketing personnel for global service expansion, AI experts (machine learning) for developing personalized courseware, and server/client developers for content updates. Additionally, we plan to allocate investment funds towards marketing and server costs for the official service launch.

[Korean Startup Interview]

스타트업 투자의 숨은 말 '다코스'
One Comment
  1. […] [Korean Startup Interview] EZContentsLab: Enjoying AI-Based 3D Korean Learning for Foreigners Like a…EZContentsLab addresses the growing demand for Korean learning among foreigners by offering an engaging AI-based platform, gamifying the learning process, and supporting global expansion with a skilled team.  […]

Leave a comment

댓글 남기기