You are what you speak: Mango Languages

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mangoCEO and “linguapreneur” of Mango Languages, Teshuba launched the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based company in 2007 to create innovative language-learning products. Today the company generates more than $8 million in annual revenue and has more than 60 languages in its lineup.

Jason Teshuba wants to put words in your mouth.

CEO and “linguapreneur” of Mango Languages, Teshuba launched the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based company in 2007 to create innovative language-learning products. Today the company generates more than $8 million in annual revenue and has more than 60 languages in its lineup — including Hawaiian, Haitian Creole, Punjabi and Koine Greek (the language the New Testament was written in). Customers range from large corporations to public libraries, where individuals can access Mango products for free.

In addition to its broad offerings, Mango distinguishes itself by focusing not just on vocabulary and grammar but also pronunciation and culture. The goal is to help customers quickly gain practical conversation skills and cultural insights.

Further raising the bar on innovation, Mango has developed a new product that builds language-learning tools into movies.

Known as Mango Premiere, this product includes a patent-pending captioning system that shows subtitles in the movie’s native language. “This is very hard to find,” Teshuba points out. “You could find a Chinese movie with English subtitles, but not Chinese. What’s more, our dynamic captioning system enables you to see two sets of subtitles simultaneously — English along with the language you’re trying to learn.”

Mango Premiere also features an “engage mode” that breaks down movies into different sections. Before each scene, Mango software provides highlights of the film’s plot, key words to watch for and cultural notes. After a scene plays, viewers begin to learn the language. At this point, Mango’s traditional learning methodology kicks in, leveraging color coding, phonetic pop-ups, culture and grammar notes, and quizzes. Mango Premiere debuted in November 2013 with films in Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and English as a Second Language for Spanish speakers. Since then the company has added Spanish, French, Italian and German with more languages on the way. The company expects the new product line to significantly increase its revenue.

Devoted to continuous innovation, Mango has other ideas in its skunk works that may soon move into product development. “One of the advantages of being in second stage is the ability to experiment more — and Mango Premiere is a good example of that,” Teshuba says. “In Stage 1, we had to take our best hunch and run with it. Now that we have additional resources, we can throw some spaghetti on the wall and see if it really sticks.”

Why learn another language? Granted, in today’s global market, it’s a boon to business people and helps them make money, Teshuba says. “Yet that’s not the most meaningful aspect for me. Learning another language opens up your view of the world — it gives you a whole new perspective and way to connect with people.

“To have a second language is to possess a second soul,” he adds, quoting Charlemagne. “While Mango Languages may not have the economic impact of a Fortune 500 company, we are transforming our industry — and helping people enrich their lives.”

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Second-Stage Rockstars

Because second-stage entrepreneurs are so focused on their businesses, their contributions often go unnoticed by the media, policymakers, economic developers and community stakeholders. With that in mind, celebrating growth entrepreneurs and communicating their value is part of the foundation’s entrepreneurship mission, which it carries out in a variety of ways.

Among these is Second-Stage Rockstars, a series of online articles that examines the ongoing impact of second-stage companies. These stories chronicle not only second-stagers’ economic growth, but also how they may be transforming their industry, creating empowering workplaces or excelling as corporate citizens. Below are some recent Rockstars; others can be found in our archives.