Abdullatef dreams of launching an online language school with his wife, Narges. On this platform, he plans to offer various ESP classes: English for Specific Purposes, i.e. business English classes for different professions. Tarek has already launched a successful start-up. These days, he works as a business coach for different companies. Abdul and Narges benefit from his experience as a young entrepreneur.

The founder

Name: Abdullatef Almalouhi

Idea: easylanguagelab.com

Founding in: Berlin

Nationality: Syrien



Name: Tarek Mandelartz (28)

Nationality: Deutsch

Company: www.safterei.de

After studying English Literature, Abdullatef completed an MBA with a focus on branding and marketing. In 2008, he got a job in the field of marketing and communication strategy in Riyadh. For the past few months, Abdul has been working as an online marketing manager for a Japanese company in Berlin.

3 questions, 3 answers

WJD: Abdul, your professional experience is in marketing. Why do you and Narges want to launch an online language school?

Abdul: When we still lived in Riyadh, I actually co-founded an event and branding agency. Unfortunately, the project did not work out in the end for various reasons. In Saudi Arabia, foreigners are not allowed to start a business on their own. Only a Saudi citizen can be the owner, so you have to trust your co-founder completely. On paper, you do not own anything.

Like me, my wife is Syrian, but she was born in Germany. This and her academic background gave us the idea of online ESP classes. They are (business) English classes for different types of professions.

WJD: What happened next?

Abdul: We moved to Germany in 2015, not least for the sake of our seven-year-old daughter. In the spring of 2017, we experimented with our ESP idea to see how the market would react. I built a website, we put together some ESP language packages – and we actually managed to sell some! In terms of money, we broke even: our profits covered our expenses. So there is definitely some demand for the idea. The website data told the same story: for a first try, we had a pretty good conversion rate and a lot of visitors.

WJD: Tarek, you established Safterei at the age of 24 and sold it a few years later. Why did you join Start Up Your Future? What does cold-pressed juice have to do with online learning?

Tarek: An acquaintance told me about Start Up Your Future at a networking event. I attended an information event in late 2017, because I always enjoy finding out about new projects and young businesses. After I quit my daily work on Safterei, charity became more and more important to me. I want to help people live independent lives – by coaching directors and new entrepreneurs, for example. Abdul, Narges and I are a great team!

WJD: How exactly can you help the two of them?

Tarek: They have already completed their pilot run successfully and work on their business very independently, which is impressive. They have their business plan, their logo and a draft for their website.

I can help them prioritise their next steps and avoid typical beginner’s mistakes.

WJD: What kind of beginner’s mistakes have you seen them make?

Tarek: Although Abdul’s marketing perspective is very useful, he focused too much on details at first. For example, they spent two or three months trying to make their logo perfect, until I told them to make up their minds and focus on their pitch. My experience in communicating with investors and delivering a pitch helped them – they needed this sort of knowledge.

Abdul: Our last meeting was especially useful for us. Tarek advised us to make decisions faster and concentrate on more than just marketing and branding. That was valuable information. Marketing and branding is what I am good at, my everyday work. But this distracted me from the bigger picture. It did not really occur to me that I would also have to think about sales and the bureaucratic aspects of launching a start-up.

Tarek: When it comes to bureaucracy, there are different stages to the start-up process. Entrepreneurs need to be aware of the risks that come with their project. I had to learn that myself.