Marina Tognetti – Leading the Language Land

come te la passi. That is How are you doing in Italian. Imagine you are in Italy for some work or you are there as a student and someone ask you this and you have no clue how to respond to that. That is how language works. It is the basic way to communicate with people. If you don’t know the language there could be a language barrier.

Marina Tognetti, who herself is fond of learning new languages, founded mYngle end 2007. Originally from Italy, she has worked in different countries and speaks several languages, Italian, English, Dutch, French, Spanish, and some Mandarin.

In an Interview with The Enterprise World, she unfolds the journey of mYngle-

Language plays an important aspect in our everyday lives. With mYngle, Marina Tognetti is helping people to get a better communication. So when we asked, what exactly is mYngle, she said-

mYngle is a company that offers customized language training programs through video conferencing in 45 different languages anytime, anywhere. Our lessons are one-on-one, with highly qualified native coaches and related to the job-position of the learner. Our virtual classrooms enable learners to take classes 24/7.

We are the solution for busy professionals who need language training to be successful in their international business, and for Companies that want great learning results and a transparent and controllable learning process to make their investment a success.

It is the highway or no way! On what challenges mYngle had to face, Marina says-

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 more than 10 years ago, when we started). There are all sorts of resistances – those of a still immature market- that you have to bypass: from the stereotypes consumers have in their minds to the (conservative) opinions of people around you.

 There is always the sun after a dark night. There always comes a point that triggers the growth of the company. For mYngle it was-  

It was when we changed from the initial business model to a completely different one, which is the mYngle we are now. We had launched mYngle as a marketplace, something I knew very well from my previous eBay experience. We thought we got it all, and that it was just a matter of implementation. We had got funding, lots of Awards and PR, a very motivated team. But despite all that, it was not developing as we had initially planned. 

We listened to our customers and they gave us the new direction, from an open marketplace to a quality global online school, from B2C to B2B. We now have prestigious business clients and learners all over the word, with tens of thousands of lessons given each month.

Challenges paved way for a long standing success of the company. And Marina tells us how exactly!

Constant focus on customers and their needs is one of our pillars and key strengths. 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 competition but the unawareness or inexperience of customers. 

Education was (and in large part still is) operating in the old traditional way, offering learners what is available, not what they need. But “One size does not fit all.” By understanding the customer and diversifying our offer in terms of teacher- content- frequency, we can match each specific need.

Being an entrepreneur, Marina’s views on entrepreneurship are-

We are living in an era of fast and drastic changes, that means that a successful entrepreneur must be able not only to adapt but also to ride the positive trends.

Main responsibilities are keeping the vision strong- in order to set the direction and anticipate and navigate challenges- and developing an organization that is agile- in order to be able to implement the vision and perform under rapid change. This requires an entrepreneur that is able to ‘Think out of the box’’, not afraid of taking (calculated) risks, and that has the courage and decisiveness to model the vision with actions.

 Her professional experience includes-  

I am a tech entrepreneur, founder of, but the passion for entrepreneurship came later on in my career. I started with a successful career by large multinationals, Procter & Gamble, Philips, Sara Lee, The Boston Consulting Group, eBay- with an MBA from INSEAD- living and working in different Countries.

It was when working as consultant on a project on internet strategy that I first saw the potential of internet to disrupt entire industries and change forever the way we buy/sell/interact. I had to be part of that! That was the driver to start an innovative company as mYngle, as I knew I could make a real difference.

With the vast experience she has had, some of the highlights of her entrepreneurial journey are-

When we started, back in 2008, we were pioneering, amongst the first to provide oneto-one teaching of all languages over the internet. Also, we were just at the beginning of the disruption of one of the most traditional industries- that of education.

For these reasons, mYngle has also won numerous awards as recognition for its contribution to online education. Immediately at start (2008): Accenture Innovation Award, European Ventures Summit Award, Benelux Venture Summit Award, and more later on. I also received numerous awards as founder and CEO of Myngle, such as 50 most inspiring women tech leaders in Europe, 50 most inspiring women in Dutch technology sector, Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All and many others.

Now, online language education is setting the standards in terms of quality and flexibility. And we have been part of that.

Every great team is the virtue of a great leader. On building such great team she says-

In mYngle we stimulate a culture of experimentation and allowing mistakes. Innovation cannot exist in a culture of fear of consequences. We try to develop people that think and not only do ‘’jobs’’. We look in our staff for entrepreneurs, people who do not keep the status quo, but push themselves beyond their comfort zone. If you try ten new things, some will fail, some will be OK, and one will make a difference. We are looking for that ‘’special one’’.

Before being an entrepreneur, she is a person just as jolly as everyone. She reads books in her leisure time and takes inspiration from people around.

Her favourite book?

It is a very old short book, and not a business one, but somehow, I feel it reflects my vision of life as well as that of an entrepreneur: “Jonathan Livingston seagull”. It is about seeking a higher purpose in life, even if our flock (everyone around us) finds it threatening. Follow our own path in life and so fulfil our true potential. It is about finding freedom.

A person she admires?

It is not a specific person, but overall, what inspires me are people that dare to push the limits. This in many aspects of life. Going beyond business to avoid the stereotype answers of “great leaders”, I also admire athletes of extreme sports, as their passion for sports has similar principles to that of entrepreneurship: taking (calculated) risks, going beyond what others are willing to do, and having the drive to be the best one can be.

“To lead is to make a difference”

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