This is a follow up story for Lingoci. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
In 2017, I founded Lingoci, a platform for online language tutoring. It connects students with tutors in 7 languages: Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, and Japanese. This year, I launched a new tutoring marketplace - LanguaTalk. I’ll explain why I decided to create this new platform below.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since I was interviewed on Starter Story a year ago, monthly transactions on Lingoci have doubled. Part of this was luck - the pandemic brought more people to look for online lessons. But it also happened because we find the best tutors, and because of this, we now get about 20% of new students from recommendations. I was also quick to adapt our site to take advantage of the newfound popularity of Zoom. Our pages show at the top of Google for Zoom-related terms, and I’ve applied the same strategy to the new site - see how the listings pages target Italian tutoring on Zoom, Zoom French lessons, etc.
Prioritising the right things may determine whether your business succeeds, or fails. So take the time each day or week to work out what you should be working on.
Google search ads have become even more expensive over the last year due to increased competition. This has reiterated the importance of SEO, content, and word-of-mouth in growing businesses.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I’ve learned that finding a co-founder who you click with can be highly motivational and make running a business more fun. I built and launched LanguaTalk with Don Pottinger, a talented developer, and an all-around great guy. Between the two of us, we’ve been able to replicate the platforms that have millions in investment. We’ve almost matched their feature sets and believe that LanguaTalk is more user-friendly than most, if not all, of the competitors.
The past year has also highlighted how much is out of your control when you run a business. A good friend of mine had a business that was thriving until the pandemic hit. Like so many other entrepreneurs, he’s had to pivot and adapt to keep his business alive. I’m lucky to have an online business, and I’ll be sticking to online if I launch any more startups.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We’re going to be enhancing LanguaTalk, for example adding the option for group lessons and showing pricing in the user’s local currency. Right now we only have French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Dutch tutors. Over the coming months, we’ll be launching more languages; by the end of the year, we’ll offer all major languages.
The key to business growth will be traffic growth. I’m producing a Spanish learning podcast with two outstanding teachers. If it’s a success, I’ll be looking at replicating this with other languages. Alongside this, we’ll be focusing hard on SEO. Right now, Google is giving millions of visits to websites that are bad for tutors, with high commission and little or no support. We want to offer a better alternative for tutors and help them raise their incomes. We want to become one of the leading platforms worldwide, helping millions of students learn, and thousands of tutors earn a decent living.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
The best book I read last year was Happy by illusionist, Derren Brown. Perhaps surprisingly, given the title, it’s not advocating positive thinking. It’s an intellectual and easy-to-understand explanation of the key ideas of Stoicism, and how to apply them to your life. It’s given me a sense of calm and perspective over the last year when it hasn’t been possible to see friends or lead a normal life.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
As an entrepreneur, sometimes you have endless possibilities for what you could be working on. Prioritizing the right things may determine whether your business succeeds, or fails. So take the time each day or week to work out what you should be working on.
If you’re a perfectionist like me, be aware that sometimes speed trumps perfection.
If you’re not working as fast as you know you can, set yourself deadlines and tell your colleagues/friends about them. This will give you the needed pressure to crack on.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Not right now but we may start later this year so do reach out if you’re a content marketer with a passion for languages.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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