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Learnitlists.com – we’re so Web 2.0

February6

The learnit project is shaping up nicely. As if by magic, we have a very Web 2.0 start-up on our hands. What to do, what to do.

With investment we could showcase the product in a broader variety of locations: for example where you’d have had plain old adverts on Web 1.0. One day it would be great to have the same list going out in print media or on displays in various public places. I mean, why shouldn’t we get organised about learning languages?

M is currently fixing my audio files application, so that I can embed a reading of texts. This is really helpful when you’re learning – to be able to see the words written and hear them at the same time. Listening to native speakers massively improves a learner’s pronunciation.

My tasks now fall into the broad category of marketing (M & J are programming & organising online stuff). I have a press release prepared: press-release.pdf which concentrates on the fact that you can learn Klingon with learnit however I need to think about the other angles, like British papers might be interested in us setting up a business from South Bohemia, and Czech papers might be interested in the fact we’re a British couple working with a Moravian guy. We’re meeting up with him for the first time next Thursday (which happens to be Valentines day), after we’ve just about competed the first stage of the project… i.e. taking something from an idea to a working product. So web 2.0!

We need to make a decision about how much to blog about what we’re doing… we don’t want to spell things out for competitors, however it’s good to have stories available, especially when things are moving so quickly.

So, M was talking about a roadmap for the project. The choices we make will be dictated by finances, but we have managed to create a proof of concept paid for entirely by past experience (I calculate learnit has 45 working years invested in it on that basis). We were talking about boo.com last night. What a laugh it must have been to be a tech startup in the 90’s, like ‘yeah, we need at least 2 million in startup capital to cover the cost of the parties’.

Our position is somewhat different. We have a competitive advantage that we’ve moved to a town where the cost of living is a fraction of, say, living in London. We can get by really well on 1/8 of what we would have needed to have the same lifestyle there. Also, being able to demo the product in Czech is an advantage (both because it could help Czech people learn English) but also because there are only about 17 people learning Czech in the world (and we know them) so people will have to register in order to access a more commonly learnt language.

So, once the website is good to go, I need to start finding people to do the beta testing – i.e. use the product and flag up if they have any questions (using the conveniently located feedback box). We will then launch it on Facebook (with it’s 50 million users) and wait patiently until we are permitted to launch it on MySpace (200 million).

We are considering seeking sponsorship from a language teaching provider (or can build bespoke gadgets for MySpace & Facebook on their behalf). I registered with Guardian Languages a few weeks ago (before we had the idea for learnit), I was wondering on how they were planning to promote themselves seeing as The Guardian is a great brand, but not well known by learners of English. Maybe they would be interested in sponsorship when we launch on MySpace. It would be a great advantage to partner with a company with a complimentary offering rather than a competitive one.

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