On this episode of Small Business Japan I talk with Jess Brown, CEO at Nihongo Connection about how she took a problem she was having with finding actual Japanese language speaking training and turned that into a successful business through building a bootcamp and online membership community.
Jessica runs an online and in-person Japanese Conversation Community called Nihongo Connection.
When she came back from Japan in 2005 her Japanese was at an intermediate level despite weekly Japanese lessons, she craved more opportunities to practice actually speaking in Japanese. In 2014, she started a Japanese conversation club. Japanese friends heard what she was doing and came along to support the group on their journey to fluency.
In 2017 the members suggested she start an online conversation club too and so now she has developed a growing and thriving online community. She arranges weekly online conversation club calls in Japanese, supporting and introducing Japanese speakers from around the world and is now running a growing online website with courses and community.
Her business developed out of a problem that she was experiencing. She didn’t start with the idea of growing a large online business, but it came from a real problem she had and a growing demand from other language learners from around the world.
She was working a full-time job at the Japanese consulate but she left to pursure her own business as her membership grew.
At the same time she was running an immersive Japanese language bootcamp on the weekends. That event became a great starter for people wanting to continue their language practice, which lea to continuing with her language membership site.
After breaking the golden handcuffs at her consulate job she invested in a number of coaches to help her figure out the next step. She got different results with different coaches.
She relied too much on other people’s opinions though until she found her own path.
With the popularity of Zoom now there have been many Japanese language chats poping up online but she has found that people appreciate the fact that she has kept a private members only group because it provides a safe space for people to communicate with people they grow to know.
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