5 Minutes to read
Etienne Genvrin, founder & CEO of Speekoo
Learning Inspiration 🌈 #52
Etienne Genvrin is the founder and CEO of Speekoo, the new language learning app that challenges you to learn a new language. Speekoo was founded in 2018 and has 1 million users worldwide. Etienne is passionate about languages and speaks six. He has also written the book Arretons de Faire Tout à L’envers.
What is your main inspiration?
I have two significant sources of inspiration. The first one is my mom because she has gone through tough times in life. Despite that, she always managed to think positively, raise three kids by herself, and instill in us a strong sense of work and determination. My second biggest source of inspiration is a more entrepreneurial one, Elon Musk. I’m always surprised by the extent of his achievements and wonder, “how can one man revolutionize so many industries and achieve so many great things in a single lifetime?” If he can do it, why not me, why not anyone of us? That motivates me always to try to do more, to take one step at a time.
How do you keep learning on a daily basis? What are your learning routines?
Learning is the only way to grow, personally and professionally. I enjoy learning new languages when I have the time and more about other topics such as biology, architecture, and history. I’m never afraid to learn any skill that I need to push my startup to the next level. I taught myself how to code, about marketing, how to design, how to edit videos, how to act on camera, how to do sound engineering, how to woo investors, how to do PR, and so on. Each new startup milestone requires a new set of skills, so I learn them.
I don’t have learning routines. It’s always very spontaneous. Out of the blue, I decided to learn Russian for fifteen days last year. I did that and then moved on to other things. If I feel the need to learn something, then I do it. I never plan anything. I hate planning things. I think it strips all the energy out of action.
What are your favorite books and why? 📚
I don’t read books. I read many articles on Medium, but that’s it. The only book I’ve read in the last five years was the book I’ve written on learning a language.
What is your favorite podcast, and why? 🎧
I don’t listen to podcasts as I’m not an audio fan. Instead, I always work in silence and rarely put music on or any sound at all – like a podcast.
What are your favorite articles that you have read recently?
One article that struck me lately was about Peter Rahal and his story as the founder of RxBar (sold to Kellogg for $600 million). I liked the honesty of it. In general, I enjoy reading entrepreneur stories. I get many great insights out of them.
What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this year, and how did you do it?
I had my biggest challenge in 2019. Back then, I entered a prolonged six-month depression with the feeling that anything I could do would never be enough. So I decided to write a book about my language learning journey and my theory, how anyone could learn a language fast. In the end, I realized I had so much more to give and prove to the world. At that time, my app only had 200k downloads and was only available in France.
I decided to make it available to the world and set the goal of 1 million downloads. I set a bigger goal, and it worked. It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes you just need to dream big again because, in the end, only big dreams give you enough energy to do big things. Today my goal is to achieve 100 million downloads.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell the 18 or 25-year-old version of yourself?
I would say, “I see you’re a big dreamer, that’s great! Keep it like that. It’s the only thing that matters.”
I would also want to say, “It’s harder than you think. Everyone will doubt you at some point and will think you’re making the wrong decisions again and again. Facing that adversity, you will have to stay strong, believe in your instincts, and keep moving forward.”
But I wouldn’t say it because dreams are so important. The harsh reality is less destructive on a man that dreams too big. Eventually, it’s the dreamer that bends reality to the shape he wants.
If you were stuck alone on an island and allowed to bring one item, what would it be?
My computer provided there’s internet access on the island 😁. You can learn anything on the internet; that’s what makes it incredible.
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