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Maria was born and grew up in Russia. She moved to Germany at age 22. She is a German teacher and started teaching at a language school. In 2018 she founded an online learning platform Dein Sprachcoach for those who want to learn German as a foreign language. Her students came up with the idea to develop the online platform. In 2018 Maria started with an Instagram channel and uploaded a few teaching videos. Today she reaches out to over 700.000 people through different channels and is helping people to learn German in an easy and comprehensive way. Her community is like a family to her.
Maria, being a woman and not born in Germany, did you find it an advantage or disadvantage in your role as a female founder?
I think it's a matter of perspective because, at the very beginning, I thought that everything in my life was a disadvantage. I was a foreigner; I was not born in Germany. I didn't study in Germany, I graduated in Russia. So, I don't have a German degree. And it was the thing that bothered me a lot. My family's not here. No parents, no relatives, I was alone. And on top of that, I'm a single mother. So, it was a really bad situation at that time. And I used to work at a language school, and I earned around 1400€ per month. And I was so happy. And I thought, I don't deserve any more, so that's everything I can earn in my life. And I'm not worth it. But at some point, I decided that every disadvantage can turn into an advantage. Because, for example, being a foreigner in Germany, I can show other women that everything is possible if you start learning the language if you're speaking properly. And if you like, you can follow your dreams. And even if your family is not here, you can get so much support from your parents. So, right now, I think it's all about the mindset, as this positive mindset, because if you think everything is bad, it is bad. But, if you try to see something positive in every single thing in your life, then yeah, you’ll be successful.
What helped you to change this mindset?
It was basically trying to connect to people I want to be like or to follow these people on Instagram and just watching the videos or reading motivational books. Because you really need to surround yourself with people having this positive mindset, because if your inner circle is not thinking this way, you will never be able to switch your advantages to the disadvantages. And what kind of tools and resources did you use and found useful that make your founding process easier. Finding the right people because I realized if you start a business, you don't have to be an expert in every field. So, you don't need this expertise. You just need to find experts in every special field.
How can female founders who were not born in Germany be supported to ease their way into entrepreneurship?
I think the most serious obstacle is the language. We need to encourage women to learn German properly because some women don't even attend German courses or they stop learning German if they are maybe B1 level, but it's not enough. You need to have a very good level to succeed in Germany. And if you master the language, you will be more independent and it's so important for a woman to be independent. And maybe step number two is working on your mindset. And here, I would not differentiate between German founders or female founders. Maybe the German founder community could be more open for foreign founders because as a foreigner, I think you're not looking for a foreign community in German because if you want to start a business here, you want to be treated equally. We are all women, we have the same fears, we may have the same dreams or goals. And it's so valuable to talk to each other to share our experience, it doesn't matter where you're from.
What is your personal tip for women with a migrational background who want to start a business?
You should believe that you deserve it. You deserve all the best, and just never listen to people who are not where you want to be. Only listen to experts. And don't talk to negative people. Just trying to build this positive mindset is very important at the very beginning. And maybe look for some role models who have already achieved what you want to achieve.
Thank you very much Maria!