Steve Jobs once said “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.
Making innovation the founding stone of her startup mYngle, about a decade ago, Marina Tognetti started her entrepreneurial journey.
The importance of Communication cannot be stressed enough! The global economy increases multi-culture within corporations and new technology means that the world is continuously interconnected. The need to learn or upgrade someone’s language skills and bridge cultural differences is therefore ever increasing. That was the problem Marina Tognetti was trying to solve.
A graduate cum laude in Business and Economics from L.U.I.S.S. University in Rome- Italy and MBA from INSEAD, Fontainebleau- France, Marina Tognetti started her entrepreneurial journey with mYngle, an online language learning platform, about a decade ago.
Originally from Italy, Marina has lived and worked in different countries and speaks Italian, English, Dutch, French, Spanish and a bit of Mandarin.
The Seed of mYngle
After many years of successful corporate career, Marina was in search of ideas to start a business for herself. It was when she was looking for opportunities in China that she was struck with the idea of starting mYngle. Her first step was traveling to the Country and getting at least some knowledge of the Chinese language. But being a busy manager, and working in The Netherlands, it wasn’t easy for her to learn Mandarin. It was then that the idea for mYngle hit her!
“There are thousands of teachers all over the world, I just need to use the power of the internet to connect teachers with students,” says Marina. She adds that when they started mYngle, back in 2007, live online language education (with real teachers) was just at its beginning.
Overcoming the Challenges
Challenges pave the way towards success! And the story of mYngle is not any different. “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 10 years ago, when we started),” shares Marina. She has a very simple philosophy, “One thing that holds most of us back is that we care way too much about what others think. I never really cared much about this, so my motivation came from inside, not outside, from the strong belief that the vision was right, even if I would find a few challenges along the way.”
Innovative and risk-taker by nature, Marina never had a set path to follow. She fought her difficulties and unearth the solutions. She believes that ‘no matter what challenges we meet along the way, we can always find a solution; that if we are willing to take risks and make the hard choices, there is nothing we cannot achieve’.
Going forward in the future, mYngle will have to face the challenge of keeping innovating and being ahead while the market moves from early stage to more mature. But Marina knows the way she needs to go. She says, “The best way to overcome this, is for us to keep on being alert about what is happening around and especially listen to our customers. Customers are critical to understand if we are delivering the right value, if the business is moving in the right direction. This is something that not all education companies have understood. It is one of mYngle core values, the first and most important. I believe it is the key for rising above our future challenges.”
Here’s what mYngle offers to the clients
mYngle is the solution for busy professionals who need language training to be successful in an international business, and for Companies that want great learning results and a transparent and controllable learning process to make their investment a success.
mYngle offers personalized, face-to-face corporate language training with highly qualified native trainers in 45 languages. The programs focus on the specific needs of each professional, ensuring language goals are met in the shortest amount of time possible. The virtual classroom enables learners to conveniently take classes 24/7 and from any location.
Marina, Facing the real challenge, ‘The juggling’ between the personal and profession life
I know that the 80 hours’ week cannot hold forever. This is a mistake that especially new entrepreneurs tend to do, thinking that by adding more hours they can solve their problems and be successful. I did it myself at the beginning and I learned from it. The most important for a leader is to keep the head clear in order to be able to see new directions ahead, anticipate problems, identify crossroads, have the energy to drive the team through difficult periods. Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. And it is especially in periods of challenges that you have to find the energy and motivation to keep on pushing forward. Now I mix time for mYngle with time for my passions- animals, yoga, snowboarding, and dancing. I know that me being happy and in balance gives my company the leader able to drive it even in the most difficult situations.
Advice for the young woman professionals by Marina
Whether you want to start your journey as an entrepreneur or raise the corporate ladder: stop comparing. The stories you read about the few that “got it all’’ are rare exceptions and often not the full truth. Women, in particular tend to do injustice to themselves: if we are not perfect, we feel we are not good enough. Let 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, look inside.
A strong leader is not the one without faults, as we all have faults, but that which is so self-confident to be able to show his/her vulnerabilities without being scared that it would impact the strength.
For all young women at the beginning of their career, remember: confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong.