Learning Labs wanted to show that learning a foreign language is fun and doesn’t have to be taught in the same old ways. Its FlashSticks® product range does just that by creating an engaging and effective language learning experience.
FlashSticks® are printed packs that incorporate 3M’s Post-it® note technology. Each note contains a commonly used foreign word, translation, icon and phonetic and is colour coded to denote gender – pink for feminine words, blue for masculine, green for neutral.
Simple to use, the Post-it® notes can be stuck in convenient and visible places making learning foreign language vocabulary easy.
French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and Mandarin are currently available as well as British Sign Language. FlashSticks® are now sold in all WHSmith high street stores, Staples, Amazon and leading suppliers to schools.
Challenges Faced and the Need for a Solution:
The WHSmith trial was the point at which we said to ourselves, if this goes well, things are going to ramp up pretty quickly and we need to ensure the business is properly resourced to cope.
WHSmith asking for 1,000 packs for a trial is one thing, but them ordering 50,000 packs for all 500 of their High Street stores, plus retail displays etc would be an entirely different challenge.
To meet this challenge, we decided to search for additional capital.
We approached Midven, Finance Birmingham and the Minerva angel network. They all wanted to invest and it was a relatively straightforward decision to have a blend of three investors.
We chose Midven based on their ability to contribute expertise and guidance, alongside their capital.
How Midven Helped:
Raising finance enabled the business to scale-up with WHSmith, growing the product range from a single product (Beginner French) to 13 products covering 6 languages.
In addition, the business has been able to invest into its digital technology, incorporating the latest innovations in augmented reality and object recognition into the product. Now, users can simply scan any FlashSticks note or random object to receive a pinpoint translation in any one of over twenty languages! The App is free to download on both Apple and Android devices.
FlashSticks has recently launched in Tesco stores, with thousands of people now using the resources to learn or teach.
Furthermore, schools across the country are adopting the resources as a way to engage students with language learning.
“Technology is one of the biggest areas shaking up language learning today. There are no easy shortcuts or quick fixes to learning a language, but technology can help and with input from research and science, make learning more effective too.“
“We want to bring the case for languages to the front of people’s busy lives, by showing that it can be more accessible through technology and innovation. Things have changed since the days of learning boring rules by rote sitting at a desk – now we can learn anytime and anywhere.“
“Languages enrich lives and build understanding between cultures, something that’s more relevant than ever in today’s global world.”
Veejay Lingiah, CEO of FlashSticks®