In Conversation with… Lokap Sahu, Founder & CEO, Languify.
Please help us know you better.
I come from a humble background. I did a part of my schooling in a town called Betul and the rest in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. I pursued engineering from IIT Bombay. I worked on a couple of startups and then I ventured to build a startup named Languify.
On a personal front, I spend a lot of time reading which helps me learn new things every day and keeps me enriched as an entrepreneur. I also enjoy traveling to the mountains.
Tell us about your business venture. How did it all start?
Think of Languify as a friend, which analyses your real-life interactions (speaking & writing), tracks your performance, and provides feedback over your writing and speaking skills after every interaction (calls, meeting, email, chatting).
As I mentioned that I come from a tier-2 city, I never really had the exposure to English schooling like my batchmates at IIT Bombay. Since my peers were from all parts of the country, English was used as the default language by the professors and my peers. I realized how I was lagging in English communication skills, and it could affect my academic learning and placements. My quest to learn and develop my communication skills was supported by a friend who would correct me, give me feedback, and help me improve. Being a part of the Placement Committee at IIT Bombay, I could see there are a lot of students losing job opportunities due to a lack of effective English communication, despite being technically skilled.
This was the genesis of the idea of having an AI-based pal, who would help you improve your communication (verbal or written) by providing feedback regularly. Languify is a platform that empowers you to improve your communication passively as well as proactively.
How has your journey been so far?
We have raised a pre-seed round. We want to launch the MVP around 15 August. We have launched a waitlist program with which we are receiving great traction!
What does a day in your life look like?
I have been in an entrepreneurial mindset for the past 5 years. No two days look exactly alike, but they are interesting for sure! Every day brings a new set of challenges and experiences. The challenge and the chaos drive and make it fun for me. With that being said, I make sure to devote at least 60% of my time keeping tabs on my product, interacting, and actively engaging with my tech, marketing, and every other team irrespective of their reporting structure. I invest my time developing my network on LinkedIn, interacting with my current and potential customers, investors, etc.
To unwind post an engaging day at work, I like to meditate or go for a walk in a park.
Following up on that, what keeps you sane after hustling an entire day at work and recharge you to kickstart the next day? Apart from work, what key activities would you recommend budding entrepreneurs invest their time in?
I have always been a night owl. Now, I ensure I put a hard stop at 11 PM and wake up early. I go for a 5km run and meditate. I genuinely feel the impact it has on me – I feel more energetic and it helps me start my day on a positive note. I would recommend waking up early and exercising to avoid drowsy mornings and consuming a copious amount of coffee to steer through the day.
In short- wake up early, go for a run and meditate! If you can form that discipline, you can face any challenge and achieve anything you desire.
Having a good team can make or break a start-up. What are your thoughts on building an effective team?
The team is the number #1 cause of a start-up failure. The second cause is not achieving product-market fit. At Languify, we have great coordination and cohesion in the team. The team must have the same alignment, work ethic, trust, and dedication to making the company’s vision into reality. Interact a lot, communicate obsessively about anything and everything.
How is the competitive scenario in the industry you operate in? Competitive advantage.
At present, there are a couple of competitors, but we have retained our USP by our unique value proposition. Languify provides feedback for written as well as verbal communication. For proactive learning, it allows a student to practice, get evaluated, and receive quantifiable feedback based on objectifiable parameters for improvement. The platform offers interactive courses to improve on specific parameters. Furthermore, Languify is your mate even in situations when you are not actively looking at improving your language skills, like receiving feedback after every interaction like calls, virtual meetings, email, etc.
We intend to further develop our offerings to improve communication an immersive learning experience and a seamless part of your routine.
The pandemic has affected many businesses. What are the immediate challenges your business faced and how do you plan to overcome them?
Pandemic has created a new market for us. This has made Languify a must to have in every student’s life.
Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey, is there something you feel you could have done differently?
I wish that I could have focused on fundraising more.
What would be your advice to all the budding entrepreneurs?
In the start-up ecosystem, people often tend to give up and get inclined to choose an easy way out, which is often a job. If you want to build something on your own, give it some time. It takes time, patience, and support from your loved ones. Be persistent and hustle! Start small, build a testable prototype, keep making iterations based on user feedback, raise funds and keep going.
If you are looking for co-founders or full-time core team members for your start-up, always spend time working with them to see if their attitude, work ethic aligns with your team and the company’s vision.