Social Change Champions: Marc Rütsche and Tobias Ammann
Marc Rütsche and Tobias Ammann both worked for consulting firms across finance, strategy, positioning or customer experience for local SMEs and international companies before independently started their own companies. Life was good but not meaningful enough. Having always wanted to work together since high school, they decided to develop a business model driven by financial sustainability and social impact. And thus loquilove was born. We sat down with Marc and Tobias to learn more about loquilove and how they using the power of language to support those less privileged.
What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?
We are building a new online live tutoring and language learning app for a good cause – it’s called loquilove (LOQUI = SPEAK, LOVE = DO GOOD). loquilove allows you to learn and teach a language online and at the same time help educate children or entrepreneurs in third world countries.
On the app tutors and students from across the world can easily connect and interact online to learn or teach any language. Giving or taking live lessons will be affordable and as easy as using Skype or ordering an Uber. You can conveniently search students/tutors by skill level, schedule lessons, provide ratings and pay directly on the app.
With each language lesson you take or give on the app you will automatically do good whether it is by creating jobs for native speakers who become tutors, by opening up new opportunities for people through improved language skills, or by supporting education projects in developing countries when the tuition fee is donated. The most important thing about loquilove is that by doing what you love, you create opportunities for yourself and others.
In supporting education projects we have partnered with two highly reliable and well respected Swiss foundations which focus on basic education of children to improve their life opportunities (Helvetas) and on the education of entrepreneurs to create sustainable jobs (BPN).
What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Switzerland?
As a social enterprise in an early startup stage (we started one year ago) that is still in the development phase of the product, we face difficulties to find bigger companies which are willing to collaborate with us. It seems to be quite hard to explain the benefits to big corporations and be fully understood.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?
Test and get early feedback! Building a perfect product based on certain assumptions that prove to be wrong doesn’t bring your enterprise very far. Start your learning process as early as possible. Build your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and have it tested by your customers. Only after evaluating the feedback of your initial users, you should decide on whether you’re on the right path or if you should rethink your product and change something.
If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?
Since we have only started our journey this is rather difficult to answer. ? Nevertheless there are a couple of things we would do differently. One thing is setting focus. We tried to concentrate on everything at once and thereby lost our focus sometimes. This we would change and try to follow the 80/20 rule. Another lesson we had to learn and that we are still learning is that the story you are telling needs to be as easy and understandable as possible. If your audience or readership has to strain to understand your story, you are about to lose them. And on top of that we can say that we would just start earlier to build a great product with a good cause.
Where do you see the future of social enterprise?
The number of social enterprises has been rising over the last few years and we expect this trend to continue. Nonetheless we believe that there is still much work needed to explain the concept of social entrepreneurship. People are still caught in classical business thinking and often do not understand the concept of a social enterprise. We aim to change this by showing that social impact and financial sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive.
What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?
We only discovered Social Change Central and a few days later decided to message you asking for assistance – not even being a member of Social Change Central. We were impressed by your willingness to help us two Swiss social enterpreneurs. After we signed up for the membership we were overwhelmed by the level of your support: You took the time to speak with us personally and to determine all the matters that are of special interest in our current stage and where you could help us. And you do help. This is what truly appeals to us – it is you guys (Anne & Jay). Thank you!
The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation?
The best way to gain more information on how we do social good is to visit our website: www.loquilove.com. And what – at the moment – we are very excited about is our Kickstarter campaign that will be launched on November 21st (8:00 CET). Please check out our campaign on www.loquilove.com/kickstarter, support us by backing our project and leaving your comments. Feedback is really important to us at this stage of development so we would be delighted to hear from you. We are using this Kickstarter campaign to validate our idea with a broad audience, gain initial funding for the development of the app and grow our community. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact us by email, give us a call or stop by whenever you are in Switzerland!
And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?
This $10 million would allow us to create an awesome product and build a community around it. And which is best: By doing this, we would generate an engine with the potential to create enormous positive social impact, a model that is both financially sustainable and highly scalable. We are just at the start of our journey. If we think a little bigger for a moment… the concept of doing good while learning does not end with languages…
Are you a Social Change Champion? Want to be interviewed? Join as a Gold Member.