After Blabloo’s three-month beta trial launched in March, there are over 30 secondary schools participating and over 10 nationalities represented among users including Russian, Brazilian and French.
The main distribution mechanism of Blabloo currently is working via secondary schools, which promote the site to their clients to enable continuous language practice. CEO Loïc Malsch is partnering with schools globally that verify the students’ age and identity.
“Blabloo is the first network of this kind in the world and it’s the perfect complement for language courses and language trips because it gives the students the opportunity to really practise a language on a weekly basis all year long with native and non native speakers,” Malsch told The PIE News.
Instant messaging is the most popular form of communication– for every one video chat, 10 messages are sent
“It’s kind of a Facebook for language exchange with video calls and only for teenagers. It’s an evolution of the classic pen pal to a modern video pal.”
Malsch is experienced working in the study travel sector, having worked for education agency British Summer previously. Investment from Malsch’s former employer, a technology company in Barcelona and a grant from the Spanish government provided the seed money for the venture but in order to become profitable, Malsch plans to sell ad space on the site in due course.
Users aged between 14-18 log on to the community and can speak with language students in other countries through instant message and video. According to Malsch, the average user signs on at least twice a month for about 10 minutes. Instant messaging is the most popular form of communication– for every one video chat, 10 messages are sent.
Students are kept engaged through “gamification” where they win points and prizes for their activity on the site .
From next year, the company will roll out an online marketing strategy and verify students through interviews with staff or emailed proof of ID.
Talks are also underway to collaborate with the British Council, l’Alliance Française and Instituto Cervantes in order to build up Blabloo’s user base.
“We want to be the worldwide reference in terms of online language exchanges and reach 100,000 users by the end of 2014 collaborating with schools not only from Europe but also from the USA, Latin America and Asia,” said Malsch.
“We want almost every student with an internet connection to be able to practise languages,” he said. “If you don’t travel it’s very difficult to have that and if you don’t have money you won’t travel so it’s a cycle that’s very difficult to break.”