Mobile language learning and travel miles

Bambi Francisco Roizen · November 9, 2008 · Short URL:

Guy Kawasaki helps us evaluate UrbanPlanetMobile and Travelfli

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This Vator Box is brought to you by Liquid Scenarios.

During times of economic crisis, a system that squeezes out free airline flights from unmanaged frequent flier miles may be worth a few bucks. In this segment, we look at such a new service. We also dive into the self-study market by looking at a startup that's creating a self-study language app for mobile phones. Guy Kawasaki, author of newly-published Reality Check, venture capitalist and founder of AllTop, was our guest host again, to help us evaluate Travelfli and UrbanPlanetMobile.

We started with Travelfli, a Boulder, Co.-based startup backed by David Cohen's TechStars. Travelfli is addressing the 17 million elite frequent flier travelers who may need assistance managing their frequent flier miles. Apparently, there are 10 million unused miles each year. Both Guy and Ezra Roizen, digital media investment banker and Vator Box regular, weren't convinced that there was a real pain point when it came to managing miles, partly because elite travelers likely used the same airline, or would care about saving $500 for a free ticket.

In our exit and liquidity scenario portion of the show, Liquid Scenarios looked at Mint, Sidestep and Kayak for its analysis of options and possible outcomes for Travelfli.

We then focused on UrbanPlanetMobile. This startup received rave reviews from Ezra, mostly because of the opportunity and the platform. 

In our exit and liquidity scenario portion of the show, Liquid Scenarios pointed out that the language instructional market is $83 billion, and that 40% went to self-study programs. We also point out that comparable companies include italki, Proxis and SharedTalk.

It's very costly to serve this self-study market. To this end, UrbanPlanetMobile may be well positioned -- to the extent that it provides cost efficiencies - to be a potential partner or acquisition target for Rosetta Stone.

(Our next guest host will be Brian Ascher from Venrock, followed by Google's Marissa Mayer and then Zynga's Mark Pincus.)

 A special thanks to:


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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Joined Vator on is a loyalty platform that helps frequent flyers and loyalists manage all of your programs in one place and find ways to earn and utilize second currencies. The technology helps users search for cash and award flight and hotel availability across brands simultaneously, and links travelers directly with the supplier to complete the booking.  We save people time, alert them when their miles/points are expiring, and help them acquire and redeem miles quickly and painlessly. 

Urban Planet Mobile


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Urban Planet Mobile is an innovative content development and delivery company providing high quality educational and informational content worldwide. Through creating our products from the ground up for mobile delivery, we’ve built a line deliverable to just about any mobile phone with any mobile provider anywhere in the world.  In this way, Urban Planet Mobile brings timely information and top quality education to people everywhere.  

Our products range from basic text only to text with audio through download or IVR solution, to slide shows, videos, and games.

Our markets are English learners around the world, public and private educational institutions, governments, associations, and organizations requiring specialized education and information content development and delivery.

We are a company committed to affordable and accessible education and information for all people, anytime and anywhere. By delivering digitally, we aren’t reliant on petroleum based CDs/DVDs, physical packaging, and don’t require people to buy additional technology devices or upgrade from devices they already own.

    • Products include English language learning for the 1.4 billion people worldwide actively learning English. These products are available in audio only for 95% of mobile phones worldwide and also with animation for the burgeoning smart phone market.
    • SAT, GRE, and other standardized testing learning programs to build vocabulary.
    • Travelingo, short audio and text lessons for the traveler wanting to pick up useful phrases for dining out, shopping, transportation, and such. Lessons are available in 10 of the most popular languages currently.

Urban English™ is the only English language learning product built specifically for delivery via the mobile platform.

Urban English™ is 450 audio English language lessons available for 11 languages, delivered via the mobile platform. The lessons are presented in English only. Research in language acquisition has shown that listening to the language without direct translation generally leads to more active engagement, which in turn is associated with increased comprehension on behalf of the student. Learn more about the pedagogy behind the development of the product here.

Urban English™ is real English, the kind of English used daily in real conversation. The products are word of the day vocabulary building lessons, phrase of the day idiom learning lessons, and comprehension conversations available in business and social categories.

The products are available through a subscription model with delivery options including delivery of the word of the day, phrase of the day, and conversations as a group or as independent lines.

Urban English™ reaches the most people because of mobile delivery. The lessons are equivalent to a ring tone file size. This makes delivery via mobile incredibly simple since the technology already exists. Even the most basic phones can receive the Urban English™ products.



Guy Kawasaki

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