Category: Insights,Online Course

Written by toomaime

Last Updated 🗓 6 months ago

Interview with the founder of Lingoci.

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Building a platform for online language tutoring.

Hey Alex, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about you and what are you working on? 


Hey Tobi, I’m the Founder of, a platform for online language tutoring. We have students and tutors in over 50 countries. Currently, 7 languages are available (Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Italian, Dutch and Japanese) and we’re growing fast.

How did you get your first users for Lingoci?

Following a year after uni spent in Paris avoiding the rat race, I joined a digital marketing agency and worked mainly on Google advertising. This gave me the skills to set up highly effective search advertising campaigns.

I set up a test site just for Swedish initially, which as a less common language to learn, has a lower cost-per-click compared to many other languages. The Google ad campaign was profitable pretty much from day one, so I quickly replicated the site for Spanish. Again it was successful (despite the website being very basic), so I quit my job and in January 2017, I launched Lingoci so that multiple languages could fit under one brand. I followed the same approach, focusing mainly on search advertising, and have expanded into other languages gradually over time.

What other channels have you used to promote your business? Any tips for other entrepreneurs?

We encourage referrals at regular touchpoints with students; in the website and email communications they see after booking lessons, we encourage them to refer friends and family. We offer a free lesson credit as a reward for each referral, as studies have shown that customers are more motivated when rewards are in the form of free stuff rather than money. Now around 11% of new users come from referrals!

We’ve also started putting more effort into content creation and SEO. For example, I wrote two articles on language learning that went viral on Medium and now show at the top of Google. 

We’ve used our Google Ads data to inform our SEO strategy. We look at the data to see which keywords convert well, then focus on creating landing pages that target these terms. Some examples: online Spanish tutoring, German tutoring online, French lessons on Skype, online Italian tutors. Check the pages and you’ll hopefully be able to see how we optimise for the keywords. 

If you decide to do something similar, remember that you need to optimise in such a way that the user experience is not affected. The text should still read naturally and focus on the user’s needs, rather than Google’s. The online language tutoring industry is dominated by large VC-backed businesses, so it’s not easy to rank. Having plenty of high quality links to the specific pages you want to rank is still critical. The problem is it’s extremely time-consuming to create the content that is required for building these links.

What advice would you give someone to get their first 100 customers?

This depends on many factors, such as your market, the type of business you’re running, and your funds. For example, if you have a B2B business with a high customer lifetime value, direct sales via LinkedIn/email and targeted online advertising are some of the first channels you should test. In contrast, if you don’t have investment and you run a B2C startup with a low customer lifetime value, content marketing, referrals and social media are likely to be the way to go.

Let’s talk about monetization - how do you monetize Lingoci? 

Students can purchase from 1 to 40 lesson credits at a time, with the price decreasing with volume. After tutors have received their earnings for the given lessons, we take a commission (currently around 15% after all the payment and currency exchange fees).

What tools/services are you using and would you recommend? 

Acuity Scheduling – for our booking system.

Twilio – for SMS reminders.

Zapier – for linking apps together. Their support team is top notch.

TransferWise – for sending tutor earnings. Far better than PayPal!

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