Building a Global Community with Emma Jakobi

Fremantle based tech startup– mmmEnglish & Hey Lady, an English learning YouTube channel and social network company, are on a trajectory that would be the envy of any aspiring startup. With a potential market size in the billions, an engaged community of millions and the completion of Spacecube’s accelerator, Plus Eight, in 2020. Don’t be surprised if you see more headlines about business and life partners, Emma Jakobi and Shah Turner in the coming years.

On a balmy autumn day, Untitled Perth got to pay a visit to their home in Freo and chat to both Emma and Shah about moving to Perth, growing a community, Plus Eight and all things in between.

Both Emma and Shah bring unique insights, experiences, and roles within the company as entrepreneurs. As such, we thought it best to interview each separately. First up is the CEO, co-founder and smiling face of the company, Emma.

Watch Emma’s full interview here. (Shah’s interview coming soon!)

When Emma Jakobi uploaded a video of her eating, talking about food and giving conversation tips for people learning English, she started a journey. Six years, almost 4 million YouTube subscribers, many meals, and hundreds of videos later, Emma is setting her sights on empowering the mmmEnglish YouTube community further. The Ladies Project or soon to be, Hey Lady, is a social networking platform that will enable women from around the globe to connect, learn and grow together with the shared goal of improving their English. 

MmmEnglish began as a way for Emma Jakobi to provide a diversion from traditional learning methods while working as an English teacher in Vietnam. As Emma recounts:

“I was just so frustrated with just this classroom context and wanted to introduce my students in Vietnam to what English is really like when you’re sitting down for a meal with some other English speakers. When you are talking and describing food and really, food became this kind of central focus of the channel. Because food, no matter what language you speak, is a way of bringing people together and a way of connecting and helping each other to feel comfortable”.

To Emma’s surprise, her initial videos of her eating take away and chatting at restaurants were quite popular.

“I had no intention of anyone other than the few people in my class seeing it. And I think, probably a few weeks went by and I looked again and there were a thousand people who had subscribed”.

Now boasting almost 4 million subscribers, mmmEnglish has an online audience larger than many small nations. The incredible amount of growth is a testament to Emma’s ability to connect with her audience and to generate value to viewers.

Perhaps the most valuable factor Emma Jakobi has been generating for her viewers is providing a community of like-minded individuals to connect, grow and learn from one another.

“Within the YouTube channel, initially, I noticed in the comments, under videos, there were people engaging, connecting, of course with me, but also with each other. Reaching out and asking each other ‘can I speak with you’ or ‘let’s practice together’, that kind of thing, which is awesome.”

Emma also noticed that it was especially women who were looking to connect with others in a safe, genuine manner where they feel comfortable enough to practice their English with another person.

“The Ladies Project, or Hey Lady, was definitely something that grew out of that desire to genuinely connect with my students. But also help them to meet with other people that they could practice speaking with regularly.”

To continue and leverage their amazing growth, Emma and Shah started looking to connect with other startups around Perth that might be going through similar scenarios. Eventually, this led them to Spacecubed and the Plus Eight Accelerator in 2020 where they were able to secure investment and gather greater insight into how to scale their company.

“I think that going through the program created an amazing opportunity for us to really, reposition and rethink the way that we operate as a team. It also really opened our eyes to what’s actually required to scale and achieve the kind of growth that we were looking for.”

Emma Jakobi’s interview is filled with great insights on growing a community, building a startup, what drives her and her first impressions of the ‘Perth clique’. Be sure to check out her full video interview here.

Also, check out the mmmEnglish YouTube channel and the Ladies Project website for more information on how they can help you, or someone you know, connect, learn and grow with an amazing online community.

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