Growth December 8, 2020

Better-than-free marketing ploy

Anthony Castrio @AntCas

There's a language learning app in the Chrome store called Toucan that's figured how to get brands and individuals to do their advertising for them for free.

Actually, better than free, since they pay Toucan for the privilege.

Last week I talked to their founder, Taylor Nieman, to learn more.

Toucan teaches you vocabulary words in context by replacing words on the websites you normally visit with words in your target language. It acts like an invisible app layer on top of your normal internet browsing behavior, ie it's dead simple to use and omnipresent.

In just a few short months Toucan has grown to over 30,000 users and is growing at an amazing 100% MoM, fueled in part by their extremely unique better-than-free marketing strategy. Their customers pay them to advertise Toucan to more users.

How? Basically, Toucan has figured out how to sell words from the dictionary.

Anyone can go to and pay to claim (really rent) a word for $1 a week.

Whenever the word is translated for a Toucan-user they'll see your link. Because it's fun and quirky to "own" a word, there's a natural inclination to share it around. It's doubly awesome when Bill Nye the Science Guy is your customer, he owns "science" (of course).

For more details (and their plans to grow to 100,000+ users in the next few months), check out the full interview:

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