McKinney-based Language Learning Market got its start when its founder and CEO, Allison Monroe, couldn’t find a company with the resources she needed to teach her four children multiple languages. So she founded one of her own and grew it globally, with offices in Mexico, India, and Jordan.
Monroe’s global EdTech marketplace and PaaS startup connects buyers and seller in 7,000 languages and dialects, helping parents and educators find the best learning resources worldwide. Now it’s expanding its HQ with the help of a grant from the McKinney Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Innovation Fund.
Language Learning Market will expand its headquarters at MillHouse McKinney, a nonprofit aimed at raising awareness and improving business opportunities for small businesswomen in creative fields. MillHouse McKinney is located at the McKinney Cotton Mill at 610 Elm St., and features a creative co-working space where women can convene and create.
The startup plans to create 17 new high-tech and executive jobs over the next three years, reaching a total of 20 employees with an average salary of $100,000.
“The Etsy for education in all languages”
“We think of ourselves like the Etsy for education in all languages,”said Allison Monroe, founder and CEO of Language Learning Market, in a statement. She calls her startup “an innovation center for the global education industry,” enabling entrepreneurs and companies to monetize their products, while being “the world’s only one-stop-shop for parents to find high-quality language learning content.”
“We’re empowering micro-entrepreneurs to reach their customers globally,” Monroe said,
Woman-owned and minority-led, Language Learning Market says it takes a strong stance on local and global humanitarian needs. According to the startup’s website, Monroe learned Arabic while serving in the Peace Corps in Jordan, and later worked in the region as a photojournalist in Jordan and Palestine. Years later, back in the U.S., she rose her four children to be multilingual, and had trouble finding quality Arabic learning resources.
After traveling to the Middle East, in 2007 Monroe launched Syraj Kids, a global retail and wholesale company offering Arabic resources. She expanded the business into digital media with a YouTube channel focused on teaching kids Arabic. According to Monroe, the channel had more than a million subscribers, helping business owners and content creators in the Middle East transform their small businesses globally.
Identifying a gap in the education market, Allison envisioned Language Learning Market as “a global community that connects parents and educators looking for the best learning resources in multiple languages—scaling the business model “from one language to 7,000 in a multi-vendor marketplace and for buyers and sellers and industry directory for educational businesses.”
In addition, the startup has partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington for three years to provide an International business internship program, the company says.
Homeschooling is up 333%
Language Learning Market may have good timing. It believes the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need for accessible language learning material to be more easily purchased and sold. According to the company, data shows homeschooling is up 333% as 11% of parents are now homeschooling, up from 3.3% not long before the pandemic began.
The digital global platform allows parents to easily find content for their kids, the company says, while sellers from educational resource companies, entrepreneurs, and teachers can use it to reach customers.
The company has three platforms: an online educational resource marketplace; a directory of educational businesses and schools; and a global media network “dedicated to education for all.”
MEDC focuses on tech and innovation
The MEDC released its Innovation Fund last year, focusing its efforts on the technology and innovation economies.
“I’ve worked and lived all over the world, and intentionally chose McKinney, Texas as our headquarters because of the city’s commitment to economic development, innovation in technology, and startups,” Monroe said. “The MEDC Innovation Fund grant will allow us to focus on growing our customer base.”
MEDC Senior Vice President Danny Chavez said the fund is supportive of female-founded startups like Monroe’s.
“We’re excited to see Language Learning Market expand at a time where the education industry has undergone a rapid transformation brought on by the pandemic,” Chavez said in the statement. “It’s incredible to support and work with a company, founded here in McKinney, that’s created a platform that will be utilized globally. Allison and her team have been great to work with and have a collective vision to scale. We look forward to seeing the company’s growth and continuing to support female-founded startups & entrepreneurs.”
Language Learning Market is one of several tech startups that have recently announced expansions or relocations into McKinney via the Innovation Fund. CourMed, MyTelemedicine, and LocuMatch are a few others that recently opened headquarters in the city.
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