36. Taylor Nieman | Toucan (learning new languages)

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Taylor Nieman is the Co-Founder & CEO of Toucan.
Taylor was born in Los Angeles and spent a lot of her time growing up playing competitive volleyball on a track for the Olympics. She eventually wound up at Cornell for school and after trying her hand in a couple of different fields, identified tech as an area she wanted to spend more time. She went to night school at YouTube University and taught herself how to code so she could bring her own ideas to life. After graduating from Cornell and returning to Los Angeles, she joined Headspace and a number of other tech companies including Pop and Fair, running business development and partnerships at each. Along the way she launched several of her own projects, including Simba, an app to connect dog owners with each other and Lancer, a Glassdoor for freelancers. While those projects didn’t pan out, her latest and most promising is on a roll. That project turned into a rapidly growing company called Toucan.
Today at Toucan, Taylor and her team have created a free browser extension to revolutionize the way you learn new languages. Once installed and enabled, you simply pick the language you want to learn (either Spanish, French, German, Italian or Portuguese) and then the magic starts to happens. As you browse Google, scroll through Twitter or interact with other websites, Toucan will change some of the words from English to your desired language. As you continue using Toucan, the words will get harder and harder as you level up your fluency. They’ve also just started rolling out mini games that you can play while in Wikipedia, which provide a more direct way to practice your skills. The coolest part is that language is just the beginning – Toucan was built as a disruptive learning platform that could be applied to lots of other disciplines.
Tune in to hear Taylor's story!
EPISODE TOPICS:

  • (2:47) Toucan snapshot today
  • (3:43) Taylor’s background
  • (12:18) How Toucan works
  • (15:39) Inception story
  • (17:37) Future market opportunities with Toucan
  • (18:28) How to assess industry landscape
  • (20:03) Competitors or partners – Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Babbel
  • (22:25) Business model
  • (29:10) Early struggles
  • (31:03) Customer acquisition
  • (33:33) 10X growth
  • (36:05) Career strategy
  • (42:21) Hiring
  • (45:54) Investor lessons learned
  • (48:21) User investing
  • (50:33) Personal drive/motivation
  • (52:43) Taylor’s wellness stack
  • (56:23) Exciting trends
  • (1:00:19) Startup manifesto

Watch on YouTube - https://youtu.be/3SFXa7vyQyc
Toucan - jointoucan.com

The Founder - www.thefounderpod.com

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