We are a passion-driven organization working to close the global communication gap
We are on a mission to close the global communication gap by helping people develop and use their language skills to unlock better opportunities through an adaptive and automated assessment system
Emmersion started in Rexburg, Idaho as an online English tutoring company. We partnered with some of the top online English learning companies in the industry (such as VIPKid) to deliver high-quality English instruction. We hired and trained hundreds of online English tutors within our first year. As we began to grow, many of our clients began asking our tutors to provide language proficiency ratings for their learners. Our cofounder, Dr. Jacob Burdis, recognized the difficulty of training tutors to be consistent and reliable in conducting language assessments.
Serendipitously, Dr. Burdis had researched a method to automate speaking assessments during his PhD studies at Brigham Young University. Emmersion saw an opportunity to provide the market with a significantly more scalable and less expensive approach for assessing language speaking ability. After conducting significant voice of customer research, we made the pivot and developed the TrueNorth Speaking Test.
The TrueNorth Speaking Test quickly grew in popularity in academia as a placement and progress test and in corporate HR as a candidate screener. Emmersion began investing more heavily in providing academic and corporate institutions with the data they needed to make better decisions regarding their language strategy. To that end, we acquired the exclusive rights to the WebCAPE reading and grammar test in 2019 and have committed to developing the TrueNorth Test in 11 additional languages.
As we continue to grow, we will focus on our mission to provide institutions with powerful data as scalably and efficiently as possible. We hope that we can progressively provide the kind of data that will enable learning organizations to create more customized, personalized learning paths for individuals. We firmly believe that one of the primary ways technology will improve language learning is by providing a scalable way for learners to access personalized content at their level and in their area of interest. We see ourselves as pioneers in enabling this future by providing the data to make it happen.
With experience living and working in several countries around the world, Brigham has an extensive background in language learning and international business. He has played a founding role in over 10 companies in various industries including online education, offshore staffing and recruitment, market research, digital media, consumer electronics, and real estate. In addition to this role as CEO of Emmersion, he also serves as chairman for Zylun Global, a private equity-backed investment holding company he founded, and sits on the boards of multiple universities, state agencies, and private companies. Brigham earned his associate’s degree in management from Ricks College, bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University, and JD/MBA from the Marriott School of Business. He later returned to his alma mater as an adjunct professor of Financing New Ventures at the Marriott School of Business. Brigham is married with five wonderful children. He speaks Thai, English, and is learning Spanish with the help of his loving wife.
Jacob is passionate about helping people improve their lives through education. He has dedicated his education, career, and volunteer service to using technology to make learning more effective and accessible. Having lived in Russia and Kazakhstan as a volunteer and tutor, Jacob saw firsthand the effect that education can have for individuals around the world. He received a dual bachelor’s degree in Russian and linguistics and a master’s and doctorate in educational technology from Brigham Young University. He first worked as a learning designer and language product manager for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He was later recruited to join Pluralsight, a unicorn EdTech startup, as the product manager for academia. At Pluralsight, Jacob caught the vision of incorporating artificial intelligence and technology to build a system to achieve incredible learning outcomes while remaining affordable and accessible. Having caught this vision, he cofounded Emmersion with a goal to leverage AI and technology to work toward closing the global communication gap. He also serves on the interdisciplinary studies board at Brigham Young University, Idaho, and is an adjunct professor of product management at Utah Valley University. Jacob lives in Utah, has four children and speaks Russian, Spanish, and a bit of Ukrainian.
With extensive startup and corporate experience, Joe thrives off of opportunities to add structure to growing businesses. Shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University, his career was quick-started by landing a role as an assistant buyer at Target headquarters in Minneapolis. After three years of learning and later being promoted to a strategy consultant, Joe returned to his alma mater to pursue his MBA. Following his graduation from the Marriott School of Business, he ran operations for CoDev, an offshore technical staffing company in the Philippines. After five years as director of operations with CoDev, Joe pursued a new opportunity as cofounder of Emmersion and served as CEO from 2017 to 2019. As an expert in operations, business development, and finance, Joe has earned recognition as an Inc. 5000 and Peak 100 entrepreneur. He is married with four awesome sons. He is fluent in Spanish and English and has lived and worked extensively in Latin America, the Philippines, and several other countries throughout the world.
Since his first introduction to Apple II BASIC in the mid-1980s, Dave has enjoyed programming. The beginning of his career as a professional software engineer involved working on diverse teams ranging from one developer working an agile project to thirty developers creating the annual release of a large-scale waterfall project. By 2007, Dave had developed a broad range of skills and was fortunate to join a team that had just completed a ThoughtWorks agile transformation. This event marked what Dave considers to be the start of his development as a true software craftsman. By learning and continually developing new skills in processes such as test-driven development, domain-driven design, continuous integration, and pair programming, he has propelled his career to a new level. He has recently become an adamant advocate for applying lean systems thinking and has enjoyed attending local and regional software conferences to present on this strategy. Through this community involvement, he was offered his previous role as lead architect at Pluralsight. His technical vision guided the hypergrowth of the engineering organization from one single team to over 30 independent teams. This strategy helped Pluralsight gain the necessary traction to quickly progress to an initial public offering of $3 billion. Dave lives in Utah with his wife, their blended family, and their Sphynx cats. He speaks English, Spanish, and is currently making another attempt at learning German.
At Emmersion, we are:
We believe company culture is key to the success of our business. We care about and invest in our team members’ total well-being. We prioritize team members’ personal and career development since finding balance is key to happiness and success. We understand that people who scale are key to sustained growth. We want our team members to have fun while succeeding.
At Emmersion, we believe in giving back to the community that supports us. Our team regularly comes together to serve the communities surrounding our offices in Utah, Idaho, Texas, California, Mexico, and Brazil by participating in initiatives such as organizing food drives, volunteering at food banks and shelters, and supporting our local refugee population. Serving together reminds us that even though we are a company, we consider ourselves a for-profit social venture. By succeeding in our mission, we are making the world a better place.
One Refugee is a non-profit organization with deep connections in our community and a goal to help refugees thrive in their new home through career counseling, mentorship, financial aid, and more.
One major challenge for refugees is learning a new language (ESL) in a new country. Emmersion has partnered with One Refugee to help them assess students oral proficiency, listening comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary knowledge. These placement and progress tests help refugees to be prepared to take on better educational and occupational opportunities.