Entrepreneurs are people who do not keep the status quo but push themselves beyond their comfort zone. One such leader who moved beyond the comfort zone and established herself as a pioneer in live online language education is Marina Tognetti (Founder and CEO of mYngle). Despite completing her education in Italy, she left the country to explore opportunities across the geographical borders. Today she is an Italian entrepreneur and business executive based in Amsterdam.
Marina had her past experience in corporate and was dubious to start her journey as an entrepreneur. She stumbled and made mistakes but kept her zeal and learned many things along the way. The modern CEO has steered the company through turbulent waters and today, mYngle has emerged as a successful business venture.
Marina shared her journey with Mirror Review and her answers are bound to change your outlook on taking risks and moving beyond the comfort zone. Here are the snippets,
Right Idea at the Right Moment
What is the story behind the establishment of mYngle?
The initial idea came from my personal needs. Back then, I was looking at China for opportunities and the first step was learning Chinese. As a busy manager, finding a way to learn the language was not easy. I tried everything: an evening school, CDs/ DVDs, a Dutch teacher trying to teach Chinese, a Chinese student that could not teach and I got quite frustrated. If I were living in China– I thought- I could easily find a good teacher! That was when the idea hit me: there are thousands of teachers all over the world, all I needed was to use the power of the internet to connect teachers with students. This is how mYngle was born. The right idea at the right moment!
Constant Focus on Customers
What is that one unique quality that differentiates mYngle from its competitors?
I strongly believe that the key to success is not constantly comparing with competition, but aligning with what customers want. This is particularly important when you are in an industry that, like that of online education, is in a transition or evolution phase, where the main challenge is not a competition but the unawareness or inexperience of customers.
Constant focus on customers and their needs are one of our pillars and key strengths. Education was (and in large part still is) operating in the old traditional way, offering learners what is available, not what they need. But as “One size does not fit all”— we try to understand the customer and diversifying our offer in terms of teacher- content- frequency, we can match each specific need.
Dealings With Uncertainty and Changes
How favorable was the change from the initial business model to a completely new one?
It was the most challenging phase of my entrepreneurial life. We decided to ‘pivot’ from the initial business model to a completely different one, which is the mYngle we are now. We could have failed or succeeded. Fortunately, we managed to turn the company around, from an open marketplace to a quality global online school, from B2C to B2B. That was the key to the success of mYngle. I think the biggest learning to take away from this is that change is an essential part of being an entrepreneur. It is how you deal with uncertainty and change that sets you apart.
An Entrepreneur has no ‘typical’ day
How will you describe your daily routine?
Being an entrepreneur means that days are varied and there is no ‘typical’ day. My roles and responsibilities as a leader are also varied. I have two roles, one internal and another is one external. Internally, I am responsible for setting and keeping long term direction, aligning it with short term actions, motivating my team, and maintaining an innovative & entrepreneurial culture. Externally, I am responsible for the finances and relationship with investors, banks, and other external stakeholders, as strategic partnerships and press.
Always Look for Adventures
Have any of your personal experiences helped you to become a good leader?
I like challenges, in everything I do. This is also the reason why I lived and worked in different countries, why I backpacked through Asia for a year, why I like extreme sports, why I became an entrepreneur! Looking for adventures, going outside my comfort zone, not being afraid to take (calculated) risks, all of these personal experiences have helped me in becoming an innovative leader.
I think entrepreneurship, especially in tech, allows you to look far ahead, innovate, change traditional business models and disrupt industries. So personal and professional life fit in that respect very well!
Innovating and exploring opportunities
How will you describe the plans of mYngle?
I look at the many novel technological developments that are happening all around us as an opportunity. Besides, Data Analysis and Machine Learning are making great improvements. The future in leading mYngle will surely hold new challenges but we plan to stay ahead of the market and focus on innovating, not only in products but also in services and processes.
Building a Business is a marathon not sprint
Despite your busy schedule, how do you keep yourself healthy?
I know that the 80 hours’ week cannot hold forever. This is a mistake that especially new entrepreneurs tend to do, thinking that more hours can solve more problems. Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. It is in the period of challenges that you will need this energy and motivation to keep on pushing forward. For this, I dodge my time equally between work and my many passions— travel, animals, going out, and especially a lot of sports. This routine is good for my body and my mind. I urge the new entrepreneurs to do the same because I know that me being happy and in balance gives my company the leader able to drive it even in the most difficult situations.
Read Full Magazine: The 10 Influential Education Leaders, 2023