Sramana: You said that you had to pivot the business into a different area. How did you go about doing that?
Dan Roitman: It took me about two years to focus on the language learning aspect of the business. I did a lot of research doing the two years I was trying to replace the digital scanning pen, and I finally came across a language learning tool that I thought had tremendous potential but was not marketed well. I started to focus on that product, and things started to take off overnight.
I had built a solid foundation of learning about Internet marketing. I knew how to sell and advertise on the Internet. I understood analytics, and I knew how to utilize optimization techniques. Everything came together at that point.
Sramana: Tell me a bit more about the language learning product.
Dan Roitman: In 2002 we launched Pimsleur Approach, which is now the second-largest language learning brand in the U.S. It is a line of language learning courses that can teach people how to start speaking a language in about 10 days. In about 90 days you can satisfy the requirements of oral proficiency in terms of working or using the language professionally. It is an amazing language learning methodology.
Sramana: You are not the originator of Pimsleur, correct?
Dan Roitman: Basically we started marketing the product and became one of the largest resellers in the audio books division of Simon and Schuster. They are the owners of the product. We continued to grow, and we put a licensing agreement in place. Today we represent the majority of sales for the Pimsleur product in general. We have been fortunate to have a strong relationship with Simon and Schuster. They are focused on content and we are able to focus on the marketing side. That has enabled us to stay focused on expanding our reach and increasing the number of channels that we are using.
Sramana: What is the business model you have with Simon and Schuster?
Dan Roitman: We have a licensing arrangement with them. We license the content and publish most courses on our side. We represent the product line in the U.S. We think of our business as an e-commerce platform focused on education. Our flagship product is the Pimsleur Approach. We don’t think of our business as a language learning business; we look at the broader personal development market and the broader education market. Combined those markets are tens of billions of dollars. Our vision is to be a billion-dollar company by 2020. At best, a third of our growth will come from language learning, and the rest will come from outside that channel.