Jason Teshuba, CEO, Mango Languages

Jason TeshubaSemifinalist, Services

When working for an Italian company after graduating with a computer engineering degree from Michigan State University, Jason Teshuba wanted to learn Italian. However, he could not find a good teaching program that provided a fresh and practical way to learn a language. This experience led him to develop his own business, Mango Languages, in 2007.

The business’s founding was not without risk. Although they received some bank loans, CEO Teshuba and his three other founders mainly funded the business personally, racking up loans and using personal credit cards to get the business off the ground.

The quartet also needed to think outside the box if it was going to compete against other language software programs and come up with a concept other language programs weren’t using.

Mango Languages’ competitive advantage is that it teaches practical conversations for immediate exchanges instead of unnecessary vocabulary a person will most likely not use. The software also uses semantic color mapping to teach grammar in place of less engaging verb conjugation lists.

While there were many financial and logistical obstacles in the way of Mango’s launch, Teshuba never saw them that way. He feels the true entrepreneurial spirit means that you embrace every challenge with creative thinking — and believe that you can do anything.

In the future, Teshuba plans to continue investing capital in research and development, production capacity, mergers and acquisitions, and new geographic markets. His vision for the company is 1 billion users by 2021 by launching the new products in the U.S. and some foreign markets.

Teshuba is actively involved with the National Museum of Language, a nonprofit organization that works to promote a better understanding of language and its role in history, contemporary affairs and the future.

HOW TO REACH: Mango Languages, www.mangolanguages.com