In 2008 I was living in Moscow. A friend of mine was taking English lessons at work, during his lunch break with an American teacher. Unfortunately, he only had an hour to spare and thanks to Moscow’s infamous traffic congestion, his teacher was always late, which made things very inconvenient. They compromised by agreeing to conduct the lessons over the phone rather than in-person. The convenience of this method worked in favor of both parties. In fact, it worked out so well that my friend proposed a partnership that would see us offering the same arrangement to other Russian students looking to learn English. Things were so simple initially. We were able to find qualified teachers in the U.S. and attracted students from Russia. We hired a secretary to organize the lessons and brought more onboard as our enrollment increased. While the response was positive, we faced two huge challenges: Organizing one-to-one lessons turned out to be incredibly difficult and group lessons... impossible! There were communication issues with timezones, problems with keeping schedule commitments, and constant requests to adjust schedules from both sides. Students had high expectations. They wanted free evaluations or a lessons before purchasing a lesson plan, teachers for different languages, a wide variety of relevant content, and the ability to reschedule their lessons. At this point, we realized that scaling the businesses with our existing infrastructure was unrealistic. It just wouldn’t allow us to keep our prices reasonable and remain profitable in the process. We initially came up with the idea of 100 students per secretary, but had to find a way to provide the tools that would help them effectively manage the demand.
Patrice Laperriere Patrice is an avid traveler of the world and a polished professional with a mind for business. His international and management experiences linked to his personal experience helped him to build a strong company. Patrice is from Quebec (Canada) but currently lives in Dallas (USA). Indrajit Lahiri Indra is a senior PHP developer. He hold MSc in computer science from the SMU (Sikkim Manipal University). When he is not on his computer, he likes spending time with his kid. He discovered web development when he was 26 and he decided to make this passion his job. Indra joined the Zamenhof team in 2014. He lives in Kolkata (India).
The concept that would become Zamenhof turned out to be the solution to our problems. By bolstering our IT team, we were able to deliver tools that catered to corporate clients and students alike. Schools have access to talented language professionals from regions all over the world. Students have a broad selection of content and flexibility that accommodates their personal needs.
So far, so good. Our clients are benefiting from a tailor-made solution that alleviates technical pressures and keeps the cost of their investment low, while allowing them to focus on what matters most – running their business!
The founder Patrice Laperriere lived in Russia for 7 years. He noticed a sharp difference in the mentalities of multilingual Russians and monolingual Russians. Monolingual people can only form and shape their view of the world based on conversations within their own community and the translations—often biased—available from the media. A hundred years ago, L.L. Zamenhof was living in Poland in a multicultural community. He was saddened and frustrated by the many quarrels among the ethnic groups of the area. He supposed that the main reason for the hate and prejudice lay in the mutual misunderstanding caused by the lack of one common language. If such a language existed, Zamenhof postulated, it could play the role of a neutral communication tool between people of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. His solution, Esperanto, didn’t work out, but his dream of global understanding is happening through some major languages (mostly English). We are proud to work on the same mission.