Often language creates an effect on the way that an individual thinks and speaks. Language is a beautiful medium that helps people understand each other by expressing their thoughts. Additionally, language is a distinctively human capacity and a powerful engine of cultural transmission.
People nowadays are much keen and enthralled on learning multiple languages and the culture that it has. With the growth in recent technology, several applications offer language programs at the ease of people’s comfort. They can accurately learn a new language in their free time and one such innovation is Linguido. Alan Kashkash, CEO of Linguido, laid the foundation of the company in order to bring new, relevant, and engaging content to students of all ages who are learning a new language. Here is an interview with Alan,
1. Brief us about Linguido.
Linguido is an Edtech AI startup offering an app for language learners and an AI-based blended learning platform for language schools. We focus on giving the power of the latest discoveries in AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to teachers allowing language schools to create, manage and enhance tailor-made language courses.
2. What are the key challenges you tackled while establishing the company?
Definitely lack of free time. The online language learning market is highly competitive, and a fresh company pursuing product-market fit has a very difficult job to stand out from the crowd and start making profits. This high barrier to entry forces founders at the initial stage to keep their full-time jobs to cover overheads and develop the company after hours leaving very little time for other things.
3. How have the company’s graphs changed since the foundation?
It’s too early to discuss traction and revenue as Linguido is still in the development phase but most importantly for us at the moment is we’re getting recognition. We continuously notice increased interest from media representatives, Venture Capital investors, and language schools.
Linguido is one of the very few companies granted access to OpenAI Beta for GPT-3 – the largest, most powerful AI model in history and we want people to be excited about it – the research we do and solutions we work on standing a chance to disrupt how the online learning industry operates. However, we believe that at the current stage the most important metric is the quality of the service we’re about to provide.
4. What are the products and services Linguido focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
Linguido develops an AI-based blended learning platform for language schools to empower teachers with the tools and assistance of the most powerful AI models.
The platform is intended to support teachers in multiple areas:
- Development of digital language courses
Using the power of generative AI models like GPT-3 language schools soon will be able to automatically create new courses. Imagine a situation where the only thing needed to generate a set of flashcards containing relevant words for your students is to provide a topic. This and multiple other possibilities will soon become available.
- Course analytics
As researchers, we know that enormous power to improve things we do lies in data. Language schools don’t hire data scientists and must rely rather on the expertise of teachers and feedback from their students. We want to enhance that – by using big AI language models we’re able to derive linguistic data and analyze the performance of courses to provide valuable insights.
- Post-class activities
Linguido isn’t limited to the classroom. By providing learning materials covering a long range of activities needed to develop a language and gamification system rewarding every little effort we plan on supporting students after the classes so that teachers can focus on the most essential issues.
- Classes management
Currently, language schools have to deal with multiple applications to maintain high-quality service – CRM, Video call communicator, digital calendar, language school management software amongst others. It should be simpler… We plan on integrating the most crucial features so that the entire infrastructure will be manageable in one place.
5. Please brief us about your professional experience.
I currently hold the position of CEO at Linguido where I’m responsible for strategy, business matters, and AI-related things. I also work as a Product Analyst at Reckitt helping develop Reckitt’s DTC eCommerce stores across the globe. Besides that, I’m a machine learning researcher specializing in Natural Language Processing.
From an educational standpoint, I finished Technical School of Photography, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accountancy, and a Master’s Degree in Big Data Analytics, both at Warsaw School of Economics.
As for the past experiences that contributed to who I’m today, most notably I had the pleasure of teaching English for 3 years and was a board member of my family company.
6. How do you define leadership? How do you empower your workforce?
Before my business career, I spent 5 years in an NGO similar to the National Guard. My supervisor at the time was a big believer in the rule “follow me” instead of “go ahead” and was actively participating in every activity we had to do. That’s what I think defines leadership – giving a great example. Isn’t it hypocritical to require hard work and dedication from people if you’re not willing to do it yourself?
7. What are the key achievements of your business journey?
Initially, by creating the MVP for our Netflix-like interactive stories we proved that people are keen to learn English the way we thought. About 22% of our site visitors proceeded to open their accounts to try the demo of Linguido validating that Linguido has something unique to offer.
Then, several months later while still in the development phase we appeared in 217th place in Google Play Store in the entire “Education” category in Poland.
Finally, the achievement that impacted our entire strategy the way we couldn’t imagine without it was being granted access to the closed beta for GPT-3 from OpenAI. We’re proud to be one of the very few companies working with cutting-edge technology shaping the world of tomorrow.
8. What kind of clients do you serve, any special mentions?
Linguido is a publicly available app, meaning that anyone willing to learn English can download it from the Google Play Store or access it on the web. What’s interesting, learning with Linguido is more popular among women than men 🙂
Besides language learners, Linguido collaborates with language schools on the development of a blended learning platform. Research areas, feature ideas, UX/UI designs – all of those we regularly consult with language schools to build the product they will authentically love.
9. How do you keep up the pace with the changing market trends?
I think every startup loves changing market trends as it gives the opportunity for newcomers to get into the market. At Linguido we not only embrace changes, but we thrive on them.
The best and most important source of information for these trends are customers themselves. Listening to customers’ needs and realizing solutions for their pain points is an incredible way to deliver meaningful products.
Second thing is to fall in love with the problem you’re solving. This way you won’t bother spending long hours reading about the new market trends. You’ll be curious to do so.
The third and most practical thing is research. Your competitor introduced a new feature? Why don’t you check the comments on the post announcing that? Are the opinions good or it wasn’t a good move? Analyzing the work of your competition, reading research papers covering the areas you work on, and studying user behavior are activities that undoubtedly help to keep up the pace.
10. Do you believe R&D is essential for the growth of the company?
I do. R&D is at the heart of everything we do due to the scientific nature of our company. Linguido is a deep tech AI startup, and so most of our work might be considered R&D. Our entire latest strategy is based on the results of research we conducted.
However, talking more broadly I think it depends a lot on the business strategy. R&D is a high-risk game that requires resources. That’s why only the biggest companies in the world can afford to maintain AI research labs. For instance, if you had a profitable, easy-to-scale business model and limited financial resources, it’d make more sense to invest them in scaling up your venture instead of increasing your R&D efforts.
11. Which one is your favorite quote?
“The more you learn, the more you earn”, is a famous quote from Warren Buffet. While there are multiple benefits of getting an education, I do believe it must be possible to earn enough money to be able to afford what makes us happy in life, like the food we like, the friends we love to spend time with, the sports or education we enjoy. And if possible also to take care of our children, to make sure they grow up insecure circumstances.
12. What are values and ethos do you encourage in the company as well as in your personal life?
Hard work, honesty, creativity, and fun.
Hard work – Every success requires a tremendous amount of work. All features and development are not a matter of luck. I strongly appreciate people willing to dedicate themselves and work hard to achieve their goals.
Honesty – Healthy atmosphere and corporate culture is something that makes the workplace a second home. To build such an environment I believe honesty must stay on top of the required qualities.
Creativity comes next – If you want to stand out from the crowd or surpass the competition, you have to come up with some great ideas. Creativity is not about inventing something spectacular. It’s the whole life cycle. From the first “eureka” moment to the working feature.
The last ingredient – fun. It’s important to find joy in what you’re doing. Otherwise, burnout may come very quickly. So, stay positive, do your work and results will come eventually!