SPIFFY: Hi Benjamin, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is English from A to Z addressing?
Benjamin: Of course, Spiffy. English from A to Z is committed to helping English as a Second Language students from around the world to reach their English goals. From online courses to group classes to private lessons, our teachers provide remote ways of learning for our ESL students so they can succeed.
SPIFFY: You teach English from A to Z, it’s in the name! But how does this help make the world a more equitable place?
Benjamin: English from A to Z is tackling unequal access to quality English as a Second Language learning not only in the United States but around the world.
With our team of qualified teachers and our partner learning management system, we can tailor different kinds of digital products and services to help ESL students succeed. Instead of general lessons and other offerings, my business is able to specialize when it comes to the English language. Depending upon their professional or personal needs, students can find what they are looking for from business to writing to traveling. On our website, our philosophy is giving students what they need to succeed with English and that includes our blog, our weekly tips, and our videos to help create a more educational experience without spending a lot of money. However, for those paying students, we offer a lot of different options for them.
SPIFFY: I can see the importance of good lessons – I’m fortunate enough to have a knack for new languages or doing my job across the galaxy would be impossible! What motivates you to start a business like this?
Benjamin: When I started English from A to Z in 2017, I knew that it would not be an overnight success, but I also knew that there was a real need for high quality, affordable online English learning that was not available for enough students. I want to give people around the world the chance to effectively learn the English language, whether they are located in Turkey, Colombia, or in Washington, DC. I am confident in my ability to bring this vision into becoming a reality.
SPIFFY: I’M CONFIDENT IN YOU TOO!! :) What milestones have you reached with English from A to Z?
Benjamin: I appreciate the enthusiasm Spiffy. In terms of what has been done already, there is a lot to be proud of. A fully functioning website with a lot of great content and a user-friendly interface; 2000+ teacher applications with six teachers fully onboarded for six-month contracts and a steady and growing influx of visitors from around the world along with a growing mailing list that is about to hit 1,200 subscribers by the end of this summer.
SPIFFY: Ooh sweet, great job so far. But tell me about a time when you faced failure, how did you overcome it?
Benjamin: As a founder, there have been failures for me – the one that stands out to me is pitching my business idea to a crowd of 200 people, pre-COVID. You’re basically putting your heart out there, which is your business, to complete strangers, hoping that you'll have a chance to receive some funding. It is far from easy and even when I am competing against other startups, I recognize how challenging it is to get your business out there, how nerve-racking it can be, and how pressurized a pitch competition can be. I have not been able to win a pitch competition yet but I have grown from these failures in that I have become a better speaker, become more confident as I do more pitches, and able to overcome my anxiety in terms of making presentations whether for my business or for otherwise. Every startup founder is going to fail but how we react to these failures is up to each of us. I choose to learn from them and they have taught me some lessons and made me a stronger founder and person.
SPIFFY: It must have been a lot of pressure to
Benjamin: This may sound silly but this whole time of COVID has shown me unexpectedly how resilient my friends and family are. I know this is not related to my business or to entrepreneurship but these are tough times we are living in. I have drawn strength as an entrepreneur from those around me who are persevering under difficult circumstances and who don't even show it. My family members and friends have all been affected by COVID, more so than even I have so I am grateful for their love and support. When I'm struggling or need a boost, they lift me up and teach me how to stay the course in business and in life. I know it's not 'unexpected' to see that but under these times of pressure, you do see the goodness and strength in individuals and that has been the case with my immediate family and close friends.
SPIFFY: I’m so glad you have a community in a time like this. Thank you for talking to me Benjamin!
Benjamin: Of course Spiffy! Thanks for hanging out with me.
Ben Weinberg is the founder of English from A to Z. He has been an ESL teacher and instructor for the past five years. Ben earned his TEFL / TESOL certification from the International TEFL Academy back in December of 2013. (Benjamin was nominated by SEED SPOT)