Being an entrepreneur comes with tough risks of its own. Being a female entrepreneur is exponentially tougher, despite all the improvements that have already been made. But if we start by recognizing challenges as opportunities, we are already on the path to change, and each of us can become a role model for the next women to come.
We need to show a different example of leadership, of what it means being a successful entrepreneur. A strong leader is not the one without faults, as we all have faults, but one who is so self-confident to be able to show her vulnerabilities without being scared that it might impact her strength. Marina Tognetti is one such self-confident Shepreneur who believes that vulnerability can also be the strength of a female entrepreneur. She is a tech enthusiast, Founder and CEO of mYngle, a pioneer in live online language education that has become a significant player in its segment.
Marina holds an MBA from INSEAD. She has a bit of an atypical profile as an entrepreneur, as before founding mYngle she had a successful corporate career in large multinationals. She has a professional experience in consumer marketing, business and product development at Procter & Gamble, Philips, Sara Lee; strategy consulting at The Boston Consulting Group and internet technology at eBay. She received a myriad of international recognitions for her contribution as a woman in technology, as the one of the 50 most inspiring women tech leaders in Europe 2015.
Comprehending the Potential of Internet
It was when working as consultant on a project on internet strategy that Marina fell in love with the internet, she saw its potential to disrupt entire industries and change forever the way consumers buy/sell/interact. Following that, she went to work for eBay to learn about this new ‘world’ and from there she decided it was time to start a business for herself. With more than 20 years of experience as an international manager, Marina knows the benefits of communicating in a native language. Having resided in numerous countries and speaking 6 languages herself, she knows firsthand the difficulties one faces when learning a new language and culture. That is why she came up with the idea to start mYngle. She moved from managing large budgets, teams, projects to starting a company from scratch.
Focused on the right Target Segments
One of the mistakes many start-ups do is to try to be everything for everyone. mYngle is very focused on its target segment and tries to understand the needs of its users in depth. It constantly monitors its users’ reactions and tries to adapt accordingly. This is also reflected in its internal KPIs and how it assesses its job, using adapted versions of NPS (Net Promoter Score), which defines that only excellence counts. Being OK is not good enough for mYngle. 95% of its learners rate mYngle trainings as excellent. The average lessons scores are 4.8/5.0.
Adapting to Change
Marina emphasizes that an entrepreneur should step out of the comfort zone and must not be afraid to take calculated risks. An entrepreneur should be able to constantly adapt. Dealing with uncertainty and change is in fact a key attribute of successful entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur should also be resilient, to be able to go through different phases and embrace, not fear, change. She strongly believes that the key to success is not constantly comparing with competition, but aligning with what customers want and satisfying their needs. “You are not going to win by being equal or better than competitors, you are going to win by being exactly what customers want”, she says. It was in following the direction given by customers that mYngle underwent two major shifts. The first was to move from an open marketplace to a quality online global school. The second was to move from B2C to B2B. Marina believes that change is an essential part of being an entrepreneur, and that was the key to success of mYngle.
Reducing Communication Barriers
It is in Marina’s nature to want to constantly improve, and it is in the nature of an entrepreneur to always see new opportunities or areas of development. She believes that the future for mYngle will surely hold new challenges, as it will need to keep on innovating and being ahead while the market moves from early stage to being more mature. Standing still is like going backwards, especially for tech companies. And for her personally, it will be time for the idealistic voice inside to speak, the voice that believes in giving something back for a better world. mYngle already is a very positive product: education overall is a positive force, and Marina believes that language education, in particular, can be a medium to bridge cultural differences and reduce communication barriers between people. Her future will hold new discoveries for the inner self, looking for ways to make a difference, and make the world a little bit better.
Reflecting the True Self
The advice that Marina gives to other Shepreneurs is to stop comparing to anyone else. She suggests to avoid thinking too much about all doomed scenarios and not to listen to people that only see limits and barriers. “All the stories we read about the few that ‘got it all’ are rare exceptions and often not the full truth”. She warns to not fall in the trap of trying to be perfect, but let go of the ‘not good enough feeling’ and all of that. She quotes, “Let go of trying to imitate types of leadership you see around but which are not you, and be really true to yourself.”