“FluentWorlds should become the uber of language training” David Bradford of FluentWorlds

Jason Malki

I had the pleasure of interviewing David Bradford is a proven business leader with over 35 years of experience in the computer industry. He has been fortunate to run not 1 but 2 of America’s 50 fastest growing tech companies. Today, David Bradford is the CEO of FluentWorlds which is revolutionizing Language training in 3D Virtual Worlds. He and his wife of 45 years, Dr. Linda Bradford, are using video gaming technologies for the purpose of actually learning something. Imagine a classroom or training environment where instead of having video games interfering with classroom instruction, video game technology is at the core of your instructional paradigm.

In 2019, David was given the “Utah Genius Award” for his life’s work in Technology by the Utah Genius Group.

In 2018, Brigham Young University gave Mr. Bradford their Emeritus Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In 2018, Utah360.com inducted Mr. Bradford into their Utah Business Hall of Fame.

In 2017, David was honored with the 2nd ever “LifeTime Achievement Award” by Utah Business Magazine.

David Bradford has previously served as CEO and Chairman of 2 remarkable companies — Fusion-io and HireVue. Fusion-io went public and eventually achieved a $3.6 Billion dollar valuation. While there, David recruited and hired the iconic Steve Wozniak. Co-Founder of Apple, as the Company’s Chief Scientist and BusinessWeek named the Company America’s most Innovative. During his tenure at HireVue, Company sales increased over 200%, the Company raised over $ 47 Million in capital, and was twice awarded the prestigious HR product of the Year becoming the de facto standard in digital interviewing.

In 2014, David authored the highly popular book- “Up Your Game- 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top” which has blessed the lives of many.

In October of 2013, Bradford was inducted into the Utah Technology Hall of Fame

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was driving down the Freeway on Interstate 15 near Provo, UT in 1985. I saw a sign off the side of the Freeway that said: “Novell”Having been in the computer industry at that point for 5 years, I was familiar with Novell’s game-changing networking software connecting computers. Something told me to “get off the freeway and see what is happening at Novell.” At the time, I was living in Southern California. I had been a young lawyer practicing in the computer industry. I walked in and told the receptionist I was there to meet with the CEO (I did not know his name). She went and got Ray Noorda. While I was waiting for him to arrive, I saw a job board. I walked over and looked through it. To my surprise, it said “Corporate Legal Counsel.” It was a perfect job fit for me. When Mr. Noorda and I eventually met that day, I told him I was there about the Corporate Counsel job. 3 weeks later, we had moved my family from SoCal to Utah where I became the first General Counsel of Novell and saw the company grow from $40 Million in sales to over $2 Billion.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

While I was in law school, I had 3 kids and was flipping burgers. We had no money. I assumed that when you graduated from law school, you got your Golden Ticket. I did very well in law school but the guys that had the jobs “had connections.” I learned that it was not what you know but who you know oftentimes.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I had no choice. I had to feed my small family. Plus, I have always been an athlete and I love to win. My Mother was also a big inspiration. Kay Bradford never greeted a day without saying: “Something great is going to happen to me today”.

So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success?

Building 3d and virtual reality language learning is not for the faint of heart. To be sure it is a game-changer but it took determination, perseverance and MONEY to create the world’s 1st fully immersive language training platform. We’ve developed very significant assets over the last 4 plus years: (1) a fully-immersive online browser version of our app with robust functionality called FluentWorlds Academy, (2) native desktop and mobile versions of FluentWorlds- the world’s 1st fully immersive language training App, (3) our Perfect Accent app, which incorporates AI learning functionality, (4) a fully proprietary speech and pronunciation analyzer (perhaps the most sophisticated ever built), (5) a deep curriculum laddered to international standards, (6) strategic partnership contracts and related development with access to tens of millions of potential subscribers, (7) significant website and digital marketing assets, (8) salaries and (9) hundreds of thousands of dollars in digital marketing campaigns and so forth.

I would add that developing our apps and 3D online training world has been expensive, but our technology is a huge differentiator. It’s not something a couple of guys in a garage can replicate — that gives us some breathing room, as there are clear financial and technological barriers to entry for 3rd parties that would like to enter the space. When you invest now, you are the clear beneficiaries of our personal investment.

Nick Macey, Former Chief Product Officer of Rosetta Stone, said:
“The FLUENTWORLDS environment provides a unique and revolutionary opportunity for teaching language. By blending an immersive environment with the social and teaching capabilities of the platform, I believe it will become the preferred way for learners to learn.”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I joined Novell has general counsel, I assumed the company owned its core technology- the NetWare operating system. For over a year, I just assumed that core ownership. As it turned out, the technology was owned by 4 guys who had built NetWare for Novell. I had to go back, grant a bunch of stock options to the owners, and ensure Novell’s ownership of its treasured IP.

LESSON: Never assume, always examine.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I love what one of our Chinese users wrote:
“I have tried Duolingo and Babbel, but I really couldn’t keep it up, because it’s very dull and I start forgetting words. Moreover, they are a flat learning journey. FluentWorlds is very unique to me, and I think it will be a disruption! I definitely feel more engaged to be in a 3D environment.”

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Take some time for yourself. You need to get outdoors . . hiking, golf, tennis, painting -whatever- develop your hobbies.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Steve Wozniak, the Co-Founder of Apple, gave us a huge boost when I was CEO of Fusion-io. We were a small Salt Lake City based technology company. But Woz joined us as my Chief Scientist and within 6 months, BusinessWeek named us America’s most innovative company. It gave us the brand recognition we needed to really take off. We did . . .and in 2011 we took the company public.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I choose to use my success as a Springboard rather than a Hammock. At FluentWorlds, we are teaching the world to speak English in a 3d Video game. For every paid subscription we receive, we are giving away a free copy of Fluentworlds to refugee camps and the impoverished to help them elevate their lives through new language acquisition. It is estimated that people can increase their incomes 30 to 40% simply by learning to speak English.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?

  1. The World’s needs Dreamers; the World needs doers; but most of all the world needs dreamers that DO — Be a doer
  2. Perfect is the enemy of the great. “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week” — George Patton
  3. Networking is not a four letter word. Connect with great people and have them help you build your company. Create a world class advisory Board.
  4. You are the average of the 5 people with whom you surround yourself. So surround yourself with greatness.
  5. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

FluentWorlds should become the uber of language training so that anyone, anyplace, anytime can get access to language training from a native speaker onDemand with minutes.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us! Thank you!

Jason Malki

Written by

Jason Malki is the Founder & CEO of StrtupBoost, a 30,000+ member startup ecosystem + Flex5, a startup investor relations, marketing, and design agency.

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