If you look closely, you’ll find many similarities between athletes of extreme sports and entrepreneurs. They both are passionate about what they love i. e. sports and a business idea respectively. They both take risks (calculated), go beyond what others are willing to do, and have the drive to be the best one can ever be. They need to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves beyond boundaries. And last but not least is persistence. They need to try again, and yet again until they succeed and realize the dream that they set out for.
On a similar notion, Marina Tognetti has always found herself inspired by such people who dare to push the limits. But inspiration wasn’t just enough for her to leave her comfort zone and venture into unknown waters. She was nestled in her successful career that boasted of large multinationals such as Procter & Gamble, Philips, Sara Lee, The Boston Consulting Group, eBay. She also has an MBA from INSEAD and has lived and worked in different countries.
While working as a consultant on a project on internet strategy, she first saw the potential of the internet to disrupt entire industries and change forever the way businesses buy, sell or interact. Awestruck by the idea and its potential, Marina realized that she had to be part of it. That moment sparked her entrepreneurial journey and acted as a driver to start an innovative company as mYngle.
At that exact moment, she knew that she could make a real difference.
The Jolt after a Dream
Marina launched mYngle as a marketplace, something she knew very well from her previous experience at eBay. The start was a smooth one. But the main challenge lay ahead. As Marina puts it, “When we started, we were pioneering, amongst the first to provide one-to-one teaching of all languages over the internet. 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.”
The toughest parts of the journey are also the most memorable in reminiscence, once you overcome the challenge. The biggest challenge was when the team had to ‘pivot’ from the initial business model to a completely different one that mYngle is today.
To set the path right, Marina and her team listened to the customers and they gave them the new direction, from an open marketplace to a quality global online school, from B2C to B2B. She says, “That was the key to success of mYngle. We now have prestigious business clients and learners all over the world, with tens of thousands of lessons given each month and 95% of learners that rate mYngle as excellent.”
mYngle’s Journey so Far
mYngle offers customized language training programs through video conferencing in 45 different languages anytime, anywhere. Its lessons are one-on-one, with highly qualified native coaches and related to the learner’s job-position. The virtual classrooms enable learners to take classes 24/7.
The platform serves as a solution for busy professionals who need language training to be successful in their international business. Companies, that want great learning results and a transparent and controllable learning process to make their investment successful, find mYngle as the best bet.
When mYngle was established, it was just at the beginning of the disruption of one of the most traditional industries, that of education. So the company had to bypass all sorts of resistances — those of a still immature market — especially the stereotypes that consumers had in their minds about education.
For these reasons, mYngle has also won numerous awards as recognition for its contribution to online education. Immediately at the start (2008): Accenture Innovation Award, European Ventures Summit Award, Benelux Venture Summit Award, and so on.
Marina, as a tech entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of mYngle, also received numerous awards such as 50 most inspiring women tech leaders in Europe, 50 most inspiring women in the Dutch technology sector, Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All and many others.
A Culture that Inspires
Inspiration and happiness are contagious. Marina finds it extremely motivating, being part of the transition in the world of education. And as a leader, she says, “I know that me being happy and in balance gives my company the right leader able to drive it in the most difficult situations.” Her positive state of mind rubs off onto those around her.
In mYngle the management stimulates a culture of experimentation and allowing mistakes. They believe that innovation cannot exist in a culture of fear of consequences. Marina adds, “We try to develop people who 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.”
Marina’s Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs
“Probably the most important piece of advice I can give 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 go of all of that. Stop trying to imitate types of leadership you see around but which are not you and be true to yourself,” Marina expresses.
“I had to take the plunge. That is what makes the difference between visionaries and followers. If you don’t succeed at first, try again. Being innovative meant that there was no set path I could follow. I had to discover the way, keeping the vision clear ahead of me. Don’t always stick to the plan. Things might evolve differently from what you had initially anticipated. Take advantage of it,” she concludes.
To know how mYngle can help you communicate better in business, click here.