Emily Carroll : “I genuinely want to help Spaniards solve their English problems”
– Agree, and a BIG opportunity specifically talking about your sector. I know that Spain’s educational system has a lot of problems in the area of international languages.
Tell us about the idea that drove your actions in becoming an entrepreneur
Well, I feel extremely fortunate to be a native English speaker, because the global demand for English Language Learning has been extremely high in recent years. This is especially true in Spain, where the economy is still recovering after the financial crisis of 2008. Many, many people are trying to improve their CVs and their job prospects by learning English. This means that native English speakers can usually find work teaching English. That was my case, too. I was a licensed music teacher at home, but started teaching English when I moved here.
After five years of this, I’ve seen how beneficial the private English class market can be for both teachers and students. I’ve also seen how many problems exist: students don’t know where to find reliable teachers, teachers don’t know how to find classes in the same area so they end up traveling all over the city, and so on. So another American friend and I came up with the idea of developing an online platform to bring teachers and students together. We called it “goprofe” (“profe” being short for “profesor,” or teacher). I quit my job in August of 2015 and we’ve been working on this project full-time ever since then.
– I have to agree with you. You know, I’m not an English native speaker, and my English is not even close to be perfect, but I can see a big difference between how English is taught in my country and here.
Hey, what difficulties have you found here in Spain, while developing your startup?
Well, I’d say our difficulties fall into two categories. The first is language-related. Although I’ve been here for five years and have a reasonably good level of Spanish, it still takes a very, VERY long time to read through and understand legal contracts and other documents. It also takes me much longer to do paperwork in Spanish, for example applying for a business loan. So that’s obviously not an insurmountable hurdle, but it does mean I spend a lot of time on tasks that would be much easier and faster in English.
The other category is money-related. It’s quite expensive to be a freelance worker (“autónomo”) here in Spain, and notary fees are incredibly high from my point of view. I never thought I’d spend as much money in my life on notaries as we have in the past seven months. Obviously, it’s expenditures that can’t be avoided, but it can be tough for early-stage companies to be paying hundreds of euros for a single visit to the notary.
– Well, I agree on both counts, but i have to say a big “YOU ARE RIGHT!” to the second one. We’ve had several headaches thanks to notaries theme and their taste for charging extremely high prices for their valuable time.
Yes! In my next life, I want to be a Spanish notary.
– Ha! We’d be interested in investing!
What skills you think are vital for any inexperienced entrepreneur? I know there may be a lot. Mention a two or three.
Actually, I think there’s one trait that’s most important of all. It’s vital for entrepreneurs and also for anyone in life, in my opinion. That trait is resilience. They say that in general, the best salespeople are simply those who don’t get discouraged, who don’t give up, and who keep going despite setbacks. I’ve seen that myself in my classroom. I used to teach 4 and 5 year olds, and it was remarkable to me how often, the most successful children were not necessarily the smartest or most talented. Rather, those who never gave up always seemed to come out on top. Not believing in yourself is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you don’t think you’re going to achieve your goal, you give up and therefore you don’t achieve your goal. But if you believe that you will get there no matter what, then you WILL. You’ll keep going and going until you reach your objective.
I believe that resilience and the ability to overcome disappointment and keep going is the number one best trait to have, much more valuable than natural skill or innate talent.
– Great stuff Em.
To finish, what can we expect from goprofe in the rest of 2016? How do you see yourselves in a couple more years?
At the moment, we are operating only in the city of Madrid. However, we are expanding to the rest of Spain within the next week. We expect to keep growing throughout 2016, both in number of users and in platform features that help students and teachers get organized and learn English. In 2017, we will start opening in other European countries. By 2019, we will be in several countries, we will have a large library of lesson plans for teachers, and we will be a large, growing business.
We can’t wait to see how it evolves and we hope to see goprofe making a crowd-empowering campaign at Pick & Pow.
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Originally published at magazine.pickandpow.com.