“In the education industry the focus has not been on the emotional side of the client so much. We would like to change that”
Carsten Sallmann and Jürgen Tauber, who have formally worked at Sprachcaffe and Kaplan, bought the company for an undisclosed amount from its founders earlier this month. Speaking with The PIE News, they said transparency and technology are at the core of their strategy to grow both student numbers and product range.
“We feel students need tools which enable them to make more transparent decisions– that’s why it’s a great acquisition because Lingoschools is already a transparent and modern platform,” said Sallmann. “There are lots of opportunities to build on this.”
Founded in 2010, Lingoschools sends some 1,500 language students annually to 400 partner schools. It is available in English, German, Spanish, Italian and soon French.
Currently, the website allows students to filter their search by language, country, start date and duration. Results show the schools’ names, prices and ratings based on previous students’ reviews.
“It has always been a challenge to be transparent and at the same time not lose clients to the schools directly. But, if you want to be credible, you need to be transparent,” commented co-owner Jürgen Tauber.
Part of the company’s plan to offer fewer but more tailored search results includes increasing the search filter indicators. The company’s goal is to create an “emotional connection” with students, by gathering data on their motivations for studying- personal development or to get a better job, for example.
”In the education industry the focus has not been on the emotional side of the client so much. It’s more filtering down the destination and the language course. We would like to change that,” commented Sallmann.
“The aim is to get the users engaged with the product actively by creating a student portfolio which has more information on the student than is currently requested by agents and schools alike.”
The company is also working with a team of programmers to develop a web app that they hope will set them apart from other search platforms by integrating gamification into the search process.
“There are great agents on the market with really nice business models but I think that most agents don’t combine the technology advancement with traditional sales. They focus on either one or the other,” said Sallmann.
“By getting students to interact with the product through the mobile app, they will see it can be fun to find out about the options you have.”
The company will also introduce a social element to the site where students can connect in a hub with peers that have similar interests before arriving at the school or even deciding their destination.
“Learning languages is a personal development that is really important for their future so I think for students, apart from the fact that there’s quite a significant amount of money involved, it’s really more than just choosing the destination and the language they want to learn,” he said.
“I think that most agents don’t combine the technology advancement with traditional sales”
The company plans to grow beyond traditional adult courses by increasing its corporate client base as well as junior programmes.
It’s already working with large German companies who need to improve employees’ language skills. “And all these business owners and employees have kids and families themselves so it’s a totally new lead that we can follow up on,” said Sallmann.
Within the next 18 months the company also plans to expand its product range to include high school and university programmes.
As former employees of leading language school chains, Tauber said his and Sallmann’s experience will help give them a competitive edge.
“Carsten and I both have been working with agents in many different countries and can thus take the most successful business models from around the world and incorporate them into our own philosophy.”