2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: LIT Learning
Everything changed for Mati Amin MSF’20 and the LIT Learning team on July 13 at 1 p.m. On that day at that time, they launched their beta test.
To date, the team has welcomed 446 teachers onto the platform, which seeks to build language proficiency through digital stories and content. These teachers have created 91 classrooms. The team is motivated by this progress and even more so by the valuable feedback the teachers are providing. Mati explains, “It’s a journey we want to take with them.”
Why did Mati launch LIT Learning? He credits the original idea for LIT Learning to a personal experience, his background in the education space, and his own passion for languages. His younger brothers came to the US at young ages – three and four years old respectively – and they have since lost their native tongue. Realizing this, Mati wondered: “How can I help them?” How could they possibly learn a language? An idea began to take root.
Mati has since come to believe that learning languages is incredibly important, helping us to understand other people and cultures and to build empathy. As he set out on his journey, he wanted to learn more about the teacher experience. He began interviewing teachers about their pain points and challenges. Through these interviews, he connected with Chelsea Clater, a Spanish teacher who would become his co-founder. They bonded over their shared passion for teaching languages. Summer Catalyst has brought the co-founders even closer together. When they share their goals or make an ask of the Summer Catalyst cohort, they need to be in total lockstep. Mati explains, “It has given us a sense of being one team.”
Mati and Chelsea are grateful for their relationship with Summer Catalyst advisor Beth Goldstein, whose guidance has had an impact. Mati originally thought students would be LIT Learning’s paying customers. Beth encouraged them to dig deeper, saying, “Go and do another survey.” It turned out that, in the US, it is teachers – not students – who will buy supplementary products like LIT Learning. This insight helped Mati and Chelsea make an important pivot and informed their beta test.
Mati and Chelsea also took into account new demand for the platform. Because of COVID-19, teachers need and want more online content than ever before. Mati and Chelsea delivered, with a robust teacher dashboard, 26 stories, and 1300 post-work activities. The beta has gone better than they expected and they now hope to have 1,000 teachers on the platform by September, an ambitious but reachable goal.
As the scrappy LIT Learning team works hard, Mati seeks to develop his own leadership style as positive and motivating. He himself is motivated by LIT Learning, its progress, and its potential. When he thinks about the Summer Catalyst Showcase, he hopes he can communicate what the platform is all about: “I’d really like people to know why we exist and why it is different.”