Meet Marina Tognetti, the brain behind the linguistics platform empowering business professionals

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A leading tech entrepreneur with a strong corporate background in her back pocket, Marina Tognetti has added a whole new standard to the definition of entrepreneurship. She is the Founder of mYngle, a pioneer in live online language education that has become a major player in its segment. As the CEO of this leading online multilingual platform, Marina herself is a keen language learner and speaks Italian, English, French, Dutch, Spanish and a bit of Mandarin, which she is presently studying. She is also a passionate traveler who spent a year backpacking through Asia and has been exploring many different countries around the world. Beyond doubt, Marina is a woman with a free mind who seeks a higher purpose in life and is paving her own way to reach her true potential. Her favorite book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ also double-checks her theory in life. She quotes, “it’s all about finding freedom! Even if your flock finds it threatening.”

Before she founded mYngle, Marina had 18 years of professional experience in consumer goods marketing and business development by Procter & Gamble, Philips, Sara Lee, and strategy consulting by the Boston Consulting Group and e-commerce/technology by eBay. She is also a recipient of several awards and recognitions. She has been named among 20 Successful Shepreneurs to watch, Exceptional Women of Excellence and 20 Successful Businesswomen to look for (2018); 20 Impeccable Women in Business, 30 most inspiring women in business, 50 most inspiring women in tech Netherlands and Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All (2017); 50 most inspiring women in Dutch technology sector (2016); 50 most inspiring women tech leaders in Europe (2015); GIT Girl in Tech of the month (2016); Top 100 women in tech in Europe (2012); The Next Women (2010) and many others. Surely, Marina’s consistency as an achiever is remarkable. What else is remarkable is her regular presence at international conferences on women leadership and entrepreneurship which includes WEF, global win conference and others which reflects her strong stance and sentiment for the fellow aspiring women.

“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 for the answers, look inside.”

According to Marina, there’s no typical day in her life. As an entrepreneur, she says, “I have two roles, one internal and one external. Internally I am responsible for setting and keeping long term direction, align it with short term actions, motivate my team, maintain an innovative and entrepreneurial culture. Externally I am responsible for the finances and relationship with investors, banks, and other external stakeholders, as strategic partnerships and press. Also, it is in the nature of an entrepreneur to always seek new opportunities or areas of development, so I am always looking ahead so that we keep on innovating and being ahead of the market.” 

Marina knows that building a successful business is not a sprint but a marathon. She finds the energy and motivation to keep pushing forward by making time for her leisure interests. “I mix time for mYngle with time for my many passions- travel, animals, going out, and especially a lot of sports. Good for the body and for the mind. I know that me being happy and in balance gives my company the leader able to drive it even in the most difficult situations.”

The key to success

mYngle was founded in 2008 with an idea that was way ahead of its time. Marina shares, “mYngle was challenging the traditional world of education, by making language education accessible to everyone. That means that initially, not many people believed in the idea. Also, I had no experience in the industry, even less as an entrepreneur.” Counting on her managerial experience with big companies before, Marina seemingly took a major risk but her strong determination and clear vision made her pull through and shine anyway. In fact, Marina proclaims that the secret behind mYngle’s success is their paranoia about customer satisfaction. They refuse to compromise on the quality of teachers, content, and tools and it brought them distinction as the high-value service provider in the industry. She mentions, “We had launched mYngle as a marketplace, something I knew very well from my previous eBay experience. We thought we got it all: funding, lots of Awards and PR, a very motivated team. But something in the business model was not functioning as we expected. We listened to our customers and they gave us a new direction, and they gave us a new direction, from an open marketplace to a quality global online school, from B2C to B2B. That was the key to the success of mYngle. We now have prestigious business clients and learners all over the world, with tens of thousands of lessons given each month.”

Marina Tognetti is the Founder and CEO of mYngle

Marina Tognetti, Founder & CEO, mYngle

Headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, mYngle offers customized one-on-one language training programs through video conferencing in 45 different languages anytime, anywhere. Their mission is to bring high-quality language education to learners in any part of the world. Essentially they act as a 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. Marina shares how they ensure accountability on their part and the quality of work they do, “Constant focus on customers and their needs is 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 “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. Also, we constantly monitor our users’ reactions and try to adjust accordingly, using adapted versions of NPS (Net Promoter Score), which defines that only excellence counts. Our average lessons’ scores are 4.9/5.0. Results speak for themselves!”

For these reasons, mYngle has won numerous awards as recognition for its contribution to online education. Immediately at the start (2008): Accenture Innovation Award, European Ventures Summit Award, Benelux Venture Summit Award, and more later on. Surely, in today’s disruptive and competitive environment there are many challenges ahead for mYngle but Marina is all set for the ride. She asserts, “I look at the many technological developments that are happening all around us as an opportunity. Data analysis and machine learning are making great improvements. Algorithms are getting better, products are becoming more accessible, knowledge about best practices are being shared and collaborated at a very fast pace. Data analysis and machine learning help triage new products better, understand clients and try to anticipate possible issues, it also helps forecasting, funnel analysis, staff coaching, and the list goes on and on.”

Look inside

In the end, going back to seeking that higher purpose, one thing that makes Marina really proud of the work she does is the way it bridges some of the differences between cultures. At mYngle, they teach not just the grammar, but also the culture behind a language, which can contribute to reducing some cultural barriers and misunderstandings. For all aspiring change makers Marina offers this advice: “Stop comparing,” says Marina. “The stories you read about the few that “got it all’’ are rare exceptions and often not the full truth. 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 for the answers, look inside.”

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