Ryan Meinzer was busy, and admittedly undisciplined, when he needed to learn Japanese for a new job at a Tokyo marketing company two years ago. So the enterprising Hershey native and Temple University grad created his own audio-focused website to learn enough key phrases and words to assimilate. His vocabulary was so extensive, his American friends in Japan wanted to use his method, too. Just like that, Meinzer created a global company.
Since, sales of Meinzer's PlaySay
have been so brisk he quit that marketing job, got an investment from a Japanese executive, and built a new website for a business focused on scalability. Meinzer also decided to come back home and set up PlaySay's operations in Philadelphia. While he found picking up Japanese fairly simple thanks to his product, Meinzer found the formalities rooted in Japan's business world counterproductive.
"The atmosphere in Philly, the internet businesses, the entrepreneurial environment was great," says Meinzer, 26, looking to capitalize on PlaySay's "first-mover advantage" and hoping to fend off leapfrog attempts by language-learning stalwarts like Rosetta Stone.
"There's a good handful of top executives here who are very qualified to be top advisors on a pro bono
Meinzer says many people buy complete language-learning systems for upwards of $300, but use it only for a week or two. PlaySay's patent-pending language learning technology utilizes "playlists" of words and phrases to go along with image flashcards that allow busy would-be bilinguals to take advantage of brief, idle moments to "cram" for a new language. The new website just launched with more than 500 playlists in three languages.
"With us, you get what you need," says Meinzer, who employs a team of nearly a dozen throughout the world.
PlaySay, which has sold 3,000 playlists, has 20 languages in its pipeline to launch throughout the remainder of 2009 and projects sales of $1.2 million for this year. College students who study abroad or travel frequently make up PlaySay's core demographic and Meinzer is pursuing licensing deals with colleges and large companies. Source: Ryan Meinzer, PlaySayWriter: Joe Petrucci