Starting an innovative company meant that there was no set path I could follow. I had to learn and adapt along the way. This was true when we started, but it is also true now, as we develop in an industry that is in transition. Knowing that I can make a real difference is what motivated me to start, and what keeps me motivated all along.
The main challenges in leading my company were when we had to ‘pivot’ from the initial business model to a completely different one. We had launched mYngle as a marketplace, something I knew very well from my previous eBay experience. We thought we got it all: funding, lots of Awards and PR, a very motivated team. But something in the business model was not functioning as we expected. We listened to our customers and they gave us the new direction, and they gave us the new direction, from an open marketplace to a quality global online school, from B2C to B2B. That is the mYngle that you see now.
The toughest parts of the journey are also the best afterwards, once you overcome the challenge. It is a great motivation to know that no matter what challenges we meet along the way, we can always find a solution, that, I if we are willing to take risks and make the hard choices and changes needed, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
I like challenges, in everything I do. This is also the reason why I left Italy short after University to live and work in different Countries, why I backpacked through Asia for one year, why I like extreme sports. Why I became entrepreneur.
This means that I am not afraid of taking (calculated) risks, which is important as entrepreneur, especially if you are in an innovative business. I know that great, and sometimes unforeseen opportunities come from taking risks. Innovative entrepreneurship is like ‘jumping from a cliff and learning how to fly at the same time’. You need to be able to thrive in an uncertain environment, take bold steps, make decisions that can have high consequences, be able to overcome the feat of failure. This is what challenges are all about.
Mission, Goal and Motivation
Our mission is to “bring high quality language education to learners in any part of the world”.
mYngle offers customized language training programs through video conferencing in 45 different languages anytime, anywhere. Our lessons are one-on-one, with highly qualified native coaches and related to the job-position of the learner. Our virtual classrooms enable learners to take classes 24/7.
We are the solution for busy professionals who need language training to be successful in their international business, and for Companies that want great learning results and a transparent and controllable learning process to make their investment a success.
In mYngle we are paranoid about customer satisfaction, which is also one of our key strengths. We never compromise on quality- of teachers, content, tools- which brought us to be recognized in the industry as a provider of high value services with very satisfied customers.
This is also reflected in our internal evaluation systems and how we assess our job. We constantly monitor our users’ reactions and try to adjust accordingly, using adapted versions of NPS (Net Promoter Score), which defines that only excellence counts. Our average lessons’ scores are 4.9/5.0. Results speak for themselves!
In mYngle we stimulate a culture of experimentation and allowing mistakes. Innovation cannot exist in a culture of fear of consequences. We try to develop people that think and not only do ‘’jobs’’. We look in our staff for entrepreneurs, people who do not keep the status quo, but push themselves beyond their comfort zone. If you try ten new things, some will fail, some will be OK, and one will make a difference. We are looking for that ‘’special one’’.
Thought on Market and its Trends
Offline education was (and in large part still is) operating in the old traditional way, offering learners what was available, not what they needed. But “One size does not fit all.” Customers must be at the center, also in education. This is something that not all education companies have understood, but it is one of mYngle core values, the first and most important.
With these principles, we have been supporting the disruption of one of the most traditional industries- that of education- bringing it from offline to online, making it available to a broader public and changing the relationship teachers/learners in the education process. By understanding the customer and diversifying our offer in terms of teacher- content- frequency, we can adapt to each specific need.
Achievements and Accomplishments
Building a business from scratch is always challenging, building a tech start-up disrupting an industry as traditional as that of education, is exponentially more challenging (especially more than 10 years ago, when we started). There are all sorts of resistances – those of a still immature market- that you have to bypass: from the stereotypes consumers have in their minds to the (conservative) opinions of people around you.
Now online language education is setting the standards in terms of quality and flexibility. And we have been part of that. This has been for me the greatest professional achievement to date.
For these reasons, mYngle has also won numerous awards as recognition for its contribution to online education. Immediately at start (2008): Accenture Innovation Award, European Ventures Summit Award, Benelux Venture Summit Award, and more later on. I also received numerous awards as founder and CEO of Myngle, such as 50 most inspiring women tech leaders in Europe, 50 most inspiring women in Dutch technology sector, Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All and many others.
The future challenge for mYngle will be in keeping innovating and being ahead while the market moves from early stage to more mature. I also look at the many technology developments that are happening all around us as an opportunity. Data Analysis and Machine Learning are making great improvements. Algorithms are getting better, products are becoming more accessible, knowledge about best practices are being shared and collaborated at a very fast pace.
For me personally it will also be time for the idealistic voice inside to speak, the voice that believes in giving something back for a better world. I walked this path and learned a lot. That brought me in a privileged position, where I can act and implement new ideas that can make a difference. I can now use my skills to make the world just a little bit better.
One Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“Probably the most important advice I can give to an aspiring entrepreneur is to stop comparing. The stories you read about the few that ‘’got it all’’ are rare exceptions and often not the full truth. Let that go of that. Let go of trying to imitate types of leadership you see around but which are not you and be really true to yourself. Don’t look around for answers, look inside”