Andres Moreno set out to start a language school that would operate around the clock, staffed with native English speakers and offering easy access to students looking to avoid gridlock in this bustling capital.
His project became Open English, an online school launched here in 2008. Propelled by an ad campaign featuring Mr. Moreno as a straight-man to a foil who humorously butchers simple English phrases, Open English is now valued at an estimated $350 million. It has 100,000 students in the Spanish-speaking world, including 5,000 in the U.S., and has a new headquarters in Miami.
“We wanted to create something that was monthly and cheap and allowed you to get started,” said Mr. Moreno, Open English’s co-founder and chief executive, in an interview at the New York offices of Technology Crossover Ventures, a venture-capital firm that has invested in Open English. “That has been the niche Open English has filled.”
The company Mr. Moreno directs has raised an estimated $120 million in venture capital, underscoring the market potential of Latin America’s fast-growing middle class and the new flow of investment dollars toward startups in the region.
“The demographics are there,” said Cate Ambrose, president of the Latin American Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, an industry group representing firms investing in Latin America. “You have a growing middle class and a young demographic with a climbing increase in the consumption of technology.” <Read more.>