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We just raised a million dollars from these guys to help the world learn!

By Memrise Blog

“Memrise’s ace team of investors!”

We’re delighted to announce today that we have raised a million dollars from a wonderful set of investors to pursue our mission to make learning joyful.

Now, not unreasonably, our dear community may not be that interested in how we keep the ship afloat, but in fact the character of the people who back a young company like ours is of the utmost importance. Without the faith, patience and imagination of investors who, like us, believe that learning should be a joy  -and without people who understand that it will take time to build our cathedral of learning- we wouldn’t be able to pursue the path we’re on, and learning might remain, well, a bit boring.

To understand why the character of our investors is so important, you need to know, first of all, that Memrise is in this for the long haul: we want to create a place where anyone can learn anything, quickly, easily and with bundles of fun. We’re applying everything we can garner from the science of memory to make learning fast; we’re philosophically opposed to any kind of learning that isn’t fun; and we believe that the imaginative power of ordinary individuals can transform learning for everyone.

So our plans revolve around enabling you, our community, to express your imaginations in making learning gorgeous, while we, on our side, apply all of our industry and ingenuity to helping deliver your imaginings to help anyone learn as effortlessly and pleasurably as possible- beginning with our wiki for learning all the world’s languages.

All of this is round-about preamble to explaining how we insisted, as we sought funding to help build out our vision, on only the most cheerful investors: people who share our belief that a product is above all an attitude to life, and that a company is much more than a device for funnelling money around. We sought people, in a nutshell, with a sense of humour, a commitment to building wonderful things, and patience and experience enough to know that we are doing things that may take some time to perfect.

These people deserve all of our thanks, because Memrise wouldn’t be able to improve as it now can without their help. So I thought it would be nice to introduce our team of investors and advisors, who are really a splendid group, and who would probably appreciate a box of chocolates or two (you can send them to [investor name] c/o Memrise, c/oTheCreativeCube, 155 Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ, UK, and we’ll forward them on- we promise).

So here are the noble backers of our site: presented, metaphorically, in the form of a soccer team:

Goal keeper: Bill Phillimore. Bill is Ed’s Uncle, and farms pistacchio nuts and pomegranates in California. He gave us our first few dollars to get the show moving. He is our main source of realism.

In defence

Left back

Bill Warner (and partner Scott Heller). Bill is a core mentor, someone who preaches building start-ups from the heart. Establish your intention, says Bill, and everything else follows. Our intention is to make learning joyful. We’re hoping Bill’s right.

Central defence

Mark Evans and Harry Briggs from Balderton “Rio Ferdinand” Capital. Mark and Harry are the rock at the centre of defence. Mark has an Olympic Gold Medal in rowing, which used to be a closely kept secret. Harry co-founded Firefly tonics. When these two speak, one listens.

Rich Levandov and Brady Bohrmann from Avalon “Nemanja Vidic” Ventures. Rich and Brady were early investors in Zynga, and they have comprehensively dominated the game of providing us with free-dinners, earning them their status as highly respected leaders.

Right back

Walt “Gary Neville” Winshall. Walt is a director at the gaming company Harmonix, and very wise. He invested in Memrise because it sounded like fun (we think).


These are the young guns, the engine of the investor-team.

Left wing: Alex “Ryan Giggs” Gezelius and Stephen Hartley-Brewer. Both are London-based investors who gets “social media” and the value of moving fast. They alternate on the left wing.

Centre midfielders:

Jeff “Roy Keane” Hammerbacher: Jeff invented and ran the data-team at Facebook, and is the leading investor on the Memrise boards, having learned the small matter of 4426 words so far.

Matt “Paul Scholes” Mullenweg’s Audrey Capital. Matt founded WordPress. ‘Nuff said.

Right wing: Ken “David Beckham” Lerer. Ken was the co-founder of the Huffington Post, and with his crack team -Bruce, Steve, Kate, Elizabeth and crew- he brings style and media-savvy to the outfit.

Strikers: these are our most glamorous signings.

Ken “Christiano Ronaldo” Baumann. Ken is the 22 year-old star of “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”, a publisher, and easily Memrise’s best looking investor. He found Memrise before an Italian holiday, subsequently charmed the locals with his expert lingo, and couldn’t help getting involved. Being of that generation, he also gets the internet.

Nabeel “Wayne Rooney” Hyatt. Nabeel is the head of Zynga Boston, an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur, and guides us in making things fun. He has a supernatural ability to see into a product, tell you what’s wrong with it, and not hurt your feelings. Has twice won the investor of the month competition.

And it would be remiss not to mention Katie “Alex Ferguson” Rae, director of Techstars Boston, who acts us coach to our rag-tag outfit, and introduced us to many of this crew.

That’s it! We raised a million dollars from awesome people, we’re spending it on making learning joyous, and we’re going to devote all our time and energy to helping you, our community, help each other and yourselves learn.

Thank you so much for all your support, feedback and creativity- we couldn’t have done it without you!