(Photo by Flick user Luc Mechelen, used under a Creative Commons license)
Walsh Costigan didn’t want to create just another dating or language learning app, but instead wanted to pull the best parts of each and fuse them together into an app that helped people learn a new language and learn it in good company.
“I noticed there were so many different places, like Facebook forum posts or meetups just for language exchange,” said Costigan, 28. “There wasn’t a common place to go and get matched with someone else, locally, who was learning the same language that you were.”
That’s how she came up with the idea behind Lexody, which she describes as a “dating app for languages.” (Costigan, for her part, studies French.)
The idea is that when people meet up through the app, depending on whether it’s native speakers or other language learners, they speak for the first half hour in one language and the second half hour in the new language they are trying to learn.
After graduating from The University of North Texas in 2013, Costigan moved to Bushwick, so she could build her business in a place that she felt had the vibe of a European city and the startup culture of her hometown, Austin.
Costigan officially started working on the app a year ago, while also working full-time at SeamlessDocs, a venture-backed online records company, where she did sales and market development. She left her job last month to pursue Lexody full-time.
When it came time to programming the app, Costigan decided to do it herself, after three failed attempts at trying to hire someone to do it. She realized it was because she didn’t know what she was talking about.
“So out of pure frustration and being very independent, I decided to learn how to do it myself,” she said. “I started taking classes and teaching myself [to code]. After a year I got advanced enough to start busting things out.”
Costigan has one additional developer on her team, and both of them work out of coworking spaces in Buswhick and Lorimer, using Croissant, an app with Brooklyn roots that finds them available space at different coworking spots. (We profiled Croissant last fall.)
Lexody officially launched three months ago for users in New York City and Costigan says it has fewer than 1,000 users so far. She’s bootstrapped the entire operation and is currently going in talks with a few angel investors.
Costigan plans to eventually monetize the app by charging users $3 a month and becoming a media repository to be a reseller of movies, books and music from Amazon and Netflix. For now, it’s free.
What’s next for Lexody?
When we ask Costigan, she doesn’t even need to think. She easily tells us that by January, she wants to launch in another city and, by the end of 2017, be in ten cities internationally.
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