Tuesday, 10 October 2023, 09:19
Malaga local María González, known on social media networks as María Speaks English after her TikTok account went viral, is now opening up her own online academy.
In less than a month, her profile which demonstrated "little tricks" to speak better English exploded onto the scene and gained more than 35,000 followers. She replicated that same success on Instagram, meaning the young woman from Malaga, with a degree in translation and interpreting, could make a living from her passion: languages. After three years she has more than one million followers on TikTok and 600,000 on Instagram.
González has now launched Pikingli, an online academy where she brings together courses and content to "learn English for everyday life in a dynamic and fun way". She's embarking on the new adventure with her partner, Sergio Ramos.
"It all started three years ago with a video I uploaded from my parents' kitchen. That's how María Speaks English and the community that has given rise to Pikingli was born. The means I had at the time were not much more than an iPhone. Over time we have been able to improve it, we now have a studio where we can record the classes and courses. But from then until now, everything has been done by Sergio and me," González said.
Ramos' previous career also led naturally to this entrepreneurial project. With a degree in business administration and economics, he wanted to guide his career towards the world of entrepreneurship. In Madrid he worked for startups such as Tetuan Valley and Seed Rocket. Then he came to live in Malaga, where in addition to building María Speaks English, he has been one of the creators of the Biznaga Valley community, which aims to connect the startup community in Malaga.
"Both Sergio and I have always been involved in things that at first seemed to have nothing to do with each other: while he worked in startup accelerators, mine had always been English. How different we seemed! What we didn't imagine was that years later we would end up joining both worlds," González said.
"During the three years I've been creating content on networks, I've always taken small steps by asking my community: How did they want me to teach them English? What kind of content was most useful for them? In short, how could I help them? And the answer has always been clear: they wanted more classes, more courses, more content and, at the end of the day, an English academy. The best thing is that, in my case, I've always wanted this," she added.
Choosing a name
And the name of the new venture, Pikingli? "It came to us out of the blue, one day when we were on the sofa chatting about the future. We knew then and there, it was the perfect name. Two minutes later we had already bought the domain. In his opinion, it conveys well what we want our academy to represent," González said. "It's dynamic, it's playful, it's cheerful. You can't help but smile a little when you say it out loud. It's also a nod to my name on social media networks, María Speaks English."
The future looks strong as she already has 28,000 students. "I felt that I needed to take a step forward and evolve the brand, give the academy a name so that it could continue to grow and have a life and its own path. A new identity, a new website, new colours, the same philosophy and affection as always," González pointed out.
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