Ryan Meinzer – Founder & CEO of PlaySay

Ryan Meinzer

Ryan Meinzer needed to learn a new language fast. Ryan’s solution was PlaySay, a program that transforms idle minutes into private foreign language lessons.

Can you describe PlaySay ?

Briefly, PlaySay lets you learn a foreign language on your cell phone. PlaySay turns any cell phone into a foreign language tutor and motivation coach. Try it at http://playsay.com.

Over 25 universities use our platform including over 5,000 users. We previously raised seed funding from the Director of PayPal Japan, and are now scaling into new languages each month.

Before PlaySay, I led the international business of a Japanese marketing firm in Tokyo, Japan with Fortune 500 and major multinational clientele.

What makes PlaySay unique from other language learning programs ?

 PlaySay differentiates by using more trusted and quality content with a more practical language learning method and an ultimately versatile convenience of use. PlaySay advances cultural awareness and international fellowship through language by being in every foreign language learning student’s pocket. The company is actively enhancing its innovative adaptive learning technologies for cell phones.

 What is PlaySay’s startup story?

I needed to learn Japanese fast and easy for the Japanese marketing firm I worked for in Tokyo, Japan. I only had minutes at a time to learn, mainly on my commute to and from work. I figured if I could learn 20 new words every day in these idle minutes, I’d gain a substantial competency in Japanese in no time. I hated paper flashcards, so I decided to make my own digital flashcards to use on my cell phone. It worked.

 What languages does PlaySay teach? Which of these languages seems to take the longest period of time to learn?

We currently offer language learning solutions for Japanese, Chinese, Cantonese, Spanish, and French. Special thanks to Tetsuo, Jon, Nao, Christian, Xiaoxin, Xixi, Inmi, Katherine, and Tereze! My other partners are currently working hard to release the Hindi, Russian, and Korean platforms soon (Abhishek, Anna, and Irene, accordingly).

How many hours of content ( or # of words ) are within the typical PlaySay program ?

We typically cover ~10,000 foreign language headwords with English counterparts for any of our language learning platforms. If you’re in France and you force yourself to not speak in English, you should be conversational in a matter of three months. If you had used PlaySay every day in the many spare idle minutes of your day, you would have been conversational in less than two months.

What was your biggest PlaySay start up challenge ?

My largest challenge thus far has been not working 80 hours a week. I still have this problem, but at least I love my job!

What’s next for Playsay ? Any new business ideas separate from Playsay?

To disrupt the English as a Second Language (ESL) market, we’re making an awesome adaptive learning platform for any cell phone – even for those dumb phones in India. Let’s just say, dumb phone or smart phone, PlaySay will make you smart! I’ve always loved extreme sports – I dream of having a business around that some day. As far as tech goes – the social shopping and flash marketing space intrigues me – maybe I’ll get into something along these lines once I change the world with PlaySay, who knows!

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