Sobre Andrés Moreno

Andrés Moreno se ha convertido en una reconocida figura del emprendimiento a nivel global por haber creado Open English, la empresa líder en la enseñanza del inglés en más de 20 países. Como Director General de su empresa, ha levantado más de US$120 millones de capital de inversión y ampliado sus operaciones de manera explosiva,sirviendo a casi 500.000 estudiantes.

Al mismo tiempo, Andrés es Fundador de Next University, institución de educación superior online, dirigida a la clase media emergente latinoamericana, para desarrollo de destrezas prácticas que permiten ingresar de inmediato al mercado de trabajo. 

Andrés es un pionero en llevar proyectos latinoamericanos a Silicon Valley. A pesar de todos los obstáculos, demostró el potencial que tiene nuestra región para dar vida a empresas de alto crecimiento. Hoy en día invierte su tiempo en apoyar emprendedores a perseguir sus sueños, no solo como inversionista ángel sino también como mentor, y a través de su rol en la junta directiva de la Fundación Endeavor, dedicada a potenciar empresas de impacto global.

El crecimiento explosivo de Open English y el pujante rol de emprendedor de Andrés, ha sido ampliamente reseñado en los medios más importante de las Américas como el Wall Street Journal, CNN, El Mercurio, Miami Herald entre otros.

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Emerging Spark

I'm Andres Moreno, founder and CEO of Growing up I lived in 8 different countries, from Slovenia to Chile, and I'm currently working to roll-out our online English school in over a dozen emerging markets. The following is an account of the people, experiences and ideas that spark along the way.

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I'm Andres Moreno, founder and CEO of Growing up I lived in 8 different countries, from Slovenia to Chile, and I'm currently working to roll-out our online English school in over a dozen emerging markets. The following is an account of the people, experiences and ideas that spark along the way.

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Don't Let Your Loudest Customer Set Your Priorities

Every couple of weeks we have a webinar at Open English to bring together our Management Team and our Study Advisors. We started doing this a few months back because we realized that there's nothing like hearing firsthand the experiences of our service department. After our first meeting we were floored by the valuable insights that had been brought to light. As a result, I immediately started rethinking priorities and our carefully crafted product road-map suddenly seemed obsolete. 

Nonetheless, one of our VPs remained unconvinced that we had identified the true needs of our student base. She suggested we put together a form that our Study Advisors had to fill out every time they received a complaint or feature request from one of our students. She built the form in a day using FormSite, an HTML form and survey builder. She also put together a quick survey that automatically pops up after our students finish a live session. For the ensuing weeks, our Study Advisors and students filled out the forms almost 3000 times. 

Finally and with great anticipation, the results were revealed at this week's service webinar. And oh the surprises...

For sure we thought, the audio quality of our virtual classrooms were going to top the list.

The data was clearly going to show how our teachers needed to do a better job correcting our students.

No doubt those nagging tech difficulties with our Academic Checkpoints were going to steal the spotlight. 

But none of that happened.

It turns out that 1774 student surveys rated the overall experience of our live sessions a 4.5 out of 5. When asked specifically about the audio quality of our virtual classrooms, only 63 surveys rated it a 1 or 2; while 1460 surveys rated it a 4 or 5 (4.3 average).

So imagine that, we were thinking of changing our live classroom provider because 4% of our students were having trouble with it. After seeing the results, we realized we needed to listen to the other 96% of our students that were perfectly satisfied with the audio quality of their live sessions. 

Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't bend over backwards for the students that filled out those 63 surveys nor that our service team wasn't bringing valuable insights to the table. My point is that the data helped put the problem in perspective and hence, also helped us come up with a much more adequate solution. Instead of changing our virtual classroom provider which would have taken weeks of development time and staff retraining; we simply decided to call the students that were having audio quality difficulties to help them better configure their audio settings. 

We all learned this week that the views of our loudest users aren't always representative of the needs of our user-base.


Flybridge Capital’s Jon Karlen Joins our Board of Directors

Back in April we reported raising $5M in our Round A from a strategic Central American investor, Grupo TVOffer. We’ve now completed the final closing of that round with an additional $1M from Flybridge Capital Partners. Flybridge is an early-stage venture capital firm based in Boston that focuses on the consumer, healthcare and IT markets.

As a part of this closing, Jon Karlen has joined our board of directors. I’ve known Jon since late-2009 and from the very beginning he stood out for his hands-on approach and the valuable insights he brought to the table. This is his first Latin American investment but he’s already travelled with us to visit our offices in Caracas and San Salvador, as well as our Miami headquarters. 

We’re excited that Open English now combines capital from angel investors across the region, strategic LatAm investors, as well as a US-based venture capital fund.

I’m including the press release below.

Upwards and onwards!


Online English School Open English Completes $6 Million Financing 

Flybridge Capital Partners Participates in Series A Round

Miami, FL—November 10, 2010 —Online English school, Open English, today announced the final closing of its $6 million Series A round of financing with participation from Flybridge Capital Partners.  The company will use the funding to continue the expansion of its Internet-based English language school throughout Latin America.  As part of the funding, Jon Karlen, a Genenal Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, will join the company’s Board of Directors.

With thousands of students in more than 20 countries, Open English provides a revolutionary new approach to English language learning which combines live instruction with native English-speaking teachers and multi-media learning content customized to each learner.  Open English students study from their home or office and avoid inconvenient scheduling, long commute times, high tuition costs, and outdated books and CD-ROMs.

“We are very excited to be teaming up with Flybridge Capital Partners. They have a deep understanding of consumer Internet businesses and have already been tremendously helpful as we work to grow the footprint of Open English throughout the Americas,” commented Andres Moreno, CEO of Open English.  

“Over the past 10 years, there has been a dramatic increase in broadband Internet usage in South America.  This, along with the emergence of a robust middle class in which English is a critical component for career advancement, has created an exciting opportunity for English language-learning programs throughout the South American region,” said Jon Karlen of Flybridge Capital Partners.  “The Open English platform is a truly innovative service that provides students with anytime, anywhere access to live instruction with native English speakers.”

Open English is currently available to Spanish-speaking students around the globe. 

Tags / Keywords: 
Open English, Internet based English-language school, learn English, on-line school, language learning, on-line education, on-line school, English fluency, e-learning, ESL, venture capital

Links / URLs:
•    Open English Blog: 
•    Open English LinkedIn Profile:
•    Follow Open English on Twitter: 
•    Become a fan on Facebook:  

About Open English
Open English, based in Miami, is an on-line school created to reinvent the English learning experience.  Through live language instruction with native English speaking teachers and multi-media learning content, all provided over the internet, Open English empowers students on their customized path to English fluency.  For more information on Open English visit:  

Flybridge Capital Partners 
Flybridge Capital Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm whose mission is to assist entrepreneurs in growing innovative, global companies. With $560 million under management, the firm is focused on investing in consumer, healthcare and information technology markets and is led by a team with domain expertise and more than half a century of combined experience in venture capital. For more information, visit


Open English In The Miami Herald

The Miami Herald reported on Open English’s participation in the upcoming Americas Venture Capital Conference.  It’s only a few days away, see you there!


Fueling innovation: FIU enterprise conference focuses on Latin America

Companies with innovative ideas and a focus on Latin America will get a chance to meet up to 100 investors at a new FIU enterprise conference.

Fifteen innovative companies from South Florida and Latin America will make a pitch to get funding to fuel further growth during the inaugural Americas Venture Capital Conference next week at Florida International University.

It’s a chance to rally investors interested in the region and match them with promising companies that need additional capital.

In fact, the two-day event running Nov. 17-18, whose theme is “Latin America: The New Mainstream,” is the only venture capital conference focused on new ventures based either in South Florida or Latin America that have a primary focus on that region, said Irma Becerra-Fernandez, director of the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, and professor of management information systems at the College of Business Administration at FIU.

“We are saying South Florida is a great place for entrepreneurship,” said Becerra-Fernandez, the conference co-chair. “And if you want to find out what is happening in South Florida and Latin America, with the hot companies, this is the place to come.”

Months in the making, the conference is expected to attract 400 attendees, including 80 to 100 investors, she said.

Among those is Faquiry Diaz Cala, president and chief executive of Tres Mares Group, a Miami-based venture capital and private equity investment firm.

“We’re always on the lookout for investment opportunities and will be using the conference as a scouting field for innovative companies in the region that we may want to invest in,” said Cala, who is co-chairing the conference and helped arrange conference speakers. He was also a member of the group that selected the 15 presenting companies.

The selectees were chosen from 71 applicants and include seven firms from South Florida and eight from Latin America, including Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.

Among the selection requirements: The companies had to have strong management teams, solid track records, a minimum of $2 million in annual revenue and a focus on one of seven industry sectors that are geared toward growth.

In addition to several biomedical and logistics ventures, the presenting companies include an online English-language school based in Coconut Grove.

That company, Open English, has already raised $6 million in funding, including a recent round from Boston-based Flybridge Capital Partners.

But Andrés Moreno, founder and chief executive, said he is hoping to make more connections at the conference in hopes of meeting investors potentially interested in participating in another batch of funding needed early next year, as Open English expands its market to Brazil.

Open English has already signed up 5,000 students – in 15 Spanish-speaking Latin American countries – who pay about $1,000 for a one-year learning experience.

“We’re excited that there is finally a hub for U.S. venture capital with an interest in the region,” said Moreno, who has also helped recruit sponsors and speakers for the conference. “We’ve gone to a lot of these conferences in Silicon Valley and otherwise, and it’s great to see this community getting together in Miami, so we’re helping any way we can.”

Each company will have 10 minutes to make its presentation on Nov. 18.

Before the conference ends, three of the 15 companies will receive awards to aid their development, worth a total of $35,000:

• Tres Mares Innovation Award: $10,000 cash award to the conference’s most innovative presenting company, and an artistic rendition of innovation valued at $5,000.

• CP Capital Emerging Venture Award: $10,000 in investment banking services, awarded to the most promising company;

• FedEx Access to Global Markets Award: $10,000 in-kind services award to a company with a commitment to expanding in global trade.

The conference will also have a roster of keynote speakers: Gustavo A. Cisneros, chairman of the Cisneros Group of Companies; R. Marcelo Claure, founder, chairman, president and CEO, Brightstar Corporation; Constancio Larguia, founder and CEO, Weemba, and co-founder,; and Don Browne, president, Telemundo Communications Group.

“I am delighted that through the help of our advisory board and many volunteers we have lined up an amazing group of speakers,” Becerra-Fernandez said. “It’s going to be a very worthwhile event, from what people will learn at the panel discussions and the networking events.”

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The Return Of The Entrepreneurs

PODER, Mexico's premier business magazine, ran a story in their November publication featuring Open English as an example of the resurgence of entrepreneurship in Latin America. A decade after the burst of the internet bubble, the region now boosts over 100 million broadband connections and enviable growth rates. Although regional shipping and the need for multi-currency payment portals still present a challenge, this new chapter is full of promise for internet-based service offerings.

Full story: Open English en la revista PODER  


Vuelven los Entrepreneurs

Con los avances de la tecnología, internet es de nuevo una opción para los emprendedores.

A finales de los años noventa se presentó en el mundo una conjunción de tecnología, dinero y creatividad que dio lugar al surgimiento de un fenómeno al que se llegó a calificar de “nueva economía”: el boom de las empresas puntocom. Muy pronto se hizo evidente, sin embargo, que había más dinero que tecnología, y que la creatividad desbordada de cientos de entrepreneurs –término que entonces se puso muy de moda–, no era suficiente para convertir en mercado lo que entonces no era más que una gran curiosidad. Y la “nueva economía” se convirtió en burbuja, y la burbuja explotó.

Diez años después hay más tecnología y menos dinero. Pero subsiste la creatividad. El creciente ancho de banda y la gran proliferación de dispositivos conectados a la red (ahora internet 2.0), han preparado el camino para el resurgimiento de los emprendedores. Y América Latina –aunque de manera tímida– no podía ser la excepción. A proyectos informativos impulsados por el auge de las llamadas redes sociales y de fenómenos como Twitter, se suman emprendimientos de alcance regional como Open English.

Después de vivir en ocho países –como buen hijo de diplomático– Andrés Moreno adquirió el amor por los idiomas, en especial por el inglés que es la lengua global. Y estando a punto de terminar la carrera de Ingeniería Mecánica en su natal Venezuela, conoció a uno de los fundadores de –uno de los portales que naufragó en el tsunami de las puntocom– y montaron una empresa dedicada a mejorar el inglés de los ejecutivos de las trasnacionales que operaban en su país.

Pronto comprendieron, sin embargo, que la logística del negocio –completamente offline– era muy complicada. Desde el reclutamiento de profesores nativos en el idioma (llevaban a Venezuela egresados universitarios de Estados Unidos que querían aprender español), hasta los desplazamientos del personal a sitios apartados de Caracas para satisfacer las necesidades de muchos de sus clientes. 

Moreno volvió entonces sus ojos a internet. El auge de sitios como Facebook y Skype demostraba que era posible comunicarse en tiempo real y de manera fluida por la red, y se lo ocurrió que el sistema era perfecto para potenciar un sistema de aprendizaje virtual. Habló con Wilmer Sarmiento, su mejor amigo de la universidad y un programador autodidacta de primer nivel, y decidió dejar Optima –su empresa anterior– y lanzar Open English.

Después de tantear el ambiente en Silicon Valley, resolvió que lo mejor era hacer una ronda interna de financiamiento, y comenzó la empresa con el apoyo de varios angel investors. Se asoció con el Grupo Cisneros –propietario del primer canal de televisión educativo para adultos en América Latina– con el fin de producir los primeros contenidos, y después de año y medio de trabajo lanzó una prueba piloto de su sitio de internet. Los primeros cursos fueron gratuitos y más de 40,000 personas entraron a la página.

Hoy, casi tres años después, Open English compite con escuelas tradicionales como Berlitz y Wall Street. Aprovechando las ventajas de la tecnología, ofrece clases en vivo, con profesores nativos –radicados en diferentes partes del mundo, lo que permite una gran flexibilidad de horarios– y cuenta con un equipo de asesores que hacen constante seguimiento al progreso de los alumnos y los motivan para que no abandonen sus cursos. La experiencia es similar a la de una escuela normal, sólo que se hace a través de internet, lo que permite llegar a cualquier estudiante y de manera personalizada.

El ser una escuela en línea permite, además, una reducción de costos. “Mientras un curso promedio en una escuela normal cuesta de 3,000 a 5,000 dólares, Open English ofrece un curso de 12 meses, que garantiza fluidez final en el idioma, por el equivalente a 1,000 dólares –dice Moreno–. En lugar de libros y fotocopias ofrece 500 horas de contenido interactivo y no hay que moverse de la casa o la oficina para estudiar el idioma. Durante 18 horas, cada hora comienza una lección en vivo. Y para un grupo de no más de cinco estudiantes”.

Moreno asegura que aprendieron muy bien la lección que dejó el estallido de la burbuja de principios de siglo. “Lo que pasó con las puntocom es que muchas empresas quisieron que la tecnología reemplazara el factor humano. En nuestro caso no queremos hacer eso. Queremos que los procesos sean eficientes a través de la tecnología, pero que sea el factor humano el que realice la interacción con el estudiante. Por eso, además de los profesores, tenemos un call center con asesores de estudio”.

Por lo pronto, las cosas parecen marchar bien. En 2009 –el primer año completo de operación– vendieron 1,000 cursos, sólo en Venezuela. Hoy tienen usuarios en 12 países y esperan acabar el año con más de 7,000 cursos vendidos. Han firmado convenios para el pago local en 16 monedas, y el programa se puede utilizar desde cualquier país de Latinoamérica, Estados Unidos, Canadá y España. Hace poco cerraron una ronda de financiamiento por cinco millones de dólares para expandir su presencia en la región, y formaron una sociedad con el Grupo TV Offer, el canal de ventas directas más grande de Centroamérica.

Lo que empezó siendo un proyecto para tratar de resolver los temas por los cuales las personas no aprendían el inglés –materiales anticuados, profesores no nativos, falta de motivación, ausencia de personalización de los programas– se ha convertido en un emprendimiento con todos los visos de consolidarse como una gran opción para perfeccionar el idioma universal. Un resurgimiento del startup en América Latina. En palabras de Moreno: “De servicios que no vienen porque sacó una filial en Latinoamérica, sino porque emprendedores latinoamericanos, financiados con capital latinoamericano, están haciendo cosas interesantes”.

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Latin American Entrepreneurs Find A Hub In South Florida

Someone finally decided to do it. After only a year of coming on board to head up FIU’s Entrepreneurship Center, Irma Becerra-Fernandez is pulling together the Latin American start-up scene. On November 17-18th, Florida International University will be hosting the Americas VC Conference, a forum for innovative companies in Latin America and South Florida to network with venture capitalists and strategic partners with an interest in the region.

In my conversation with Irma last week she admitted that the conference had taken over her life.  Not surprising considering that in the last couple of months she signed up a number of  blue chip sponsors to the conference including Citi, Telemundo and Fedex, as well as a roster of top notch speakers and panelists that will kick off with a keynote by Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros. The event is being promoted via a number of prominent media partners in Latin America and South Florida such as America Economia and the Miami Herald, and boasts an impressive list of partner organizations including Endeavor and the Council of the Americas.

Similar to other successful VC conferences such as MIT’s, the Americas VC Conference will showcase a select group of 15 innovative ventures. The selection panel will choose the top 15 companies on August 15th from a database of applicants that among other criteria must have at least $2M (USD) in revenues and be headquartered in Latin America or South Florida with primary business in the region.

I’m personally invested in this initiative because I recognize the value of having a local network in place when growing a start up. During the founding years of Open English, I spent most of my time working and networking in Silicon Valley and around Southern California. The colleagues, investors and friends I met during those years helped kick-start and grow our company.  That’s why it was such a tough decision for my wife Nicolette and me to make the jump from California to Florida early in 2009. Our company’s focus had concentrated in Latin America and Miami allowed us to  be closer to our customers and regional subsidiaries while still keeping our headquarters in the US. And although it was the ideal place to coordinate our regional efforts and recruit folks that understood the region, we knew that moving away from California would bring additional challenges particularly in raising follow on rounds of capital. Since arriving to Miami last year, I’ve been looking for ways to help bring together the entrepreneurial network in South Florida.  So when I heard about Irma’s ambitious undertaking, I immediately took interest.

Open English is in the running for one of the 15 companies to be showcased at the conference and our Chairman, John McIntire will be one of the General Session panelists. Some of our friends will also be participating including Lorenzo Lara, President of Negocios Digitales, who I interviewed last month on this blog; and Mike Kazma, President and CEO of Amzak Capital Management.

Finally a much needed hub for the Latin American entrepreneurial community…

See you there.