Maker: Marina Jackman
Tell me a bit about your background and how did you end up in Cleveland, Ohio?
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I come from a very international family. My mother is from Spain, my grandparents on my father’s side came from Poland and Russia. So my whole family is scattered all over the world. I studied international relations in Argentina, then moved to Barcelona to do a master’s degree in international political journalism. I met my husband in Barcelona. We had planned to move to France, but in the middle of that plan, my husband got a job offer in Cleveland.
Jackman with her husband, Chris, in Barcelona in 2016. [Marina Jackman]
It seems that developing a mobile application was not necessarily part of your career plans. What gave you the idea for Time2Talk?
My husband and I were already studying French as we were planning to move to France. We took this course, which allowed us to accelerate our French. And we were speaking French after those five weeks, which was amazing. Then we moved to Cleveland. We found it very difficult to continue practicing our French when we moved to the United States, so we tried to find tools online to do so. My husband was using this website, but it wasn’t exactly what he wanted. And in my case, I didn’t even use it because I didn’t like the process. So that’s one of the reasons why Time2Talk was born, because all those sites that offered a connection to native speakers to practice a language required pre-programming, pre-payment and subscribing to hour packages. And the reality is, we thought, how cool would it be to have an on-demand service that you can just call whenever you want and use it for as long as you want or as little as you want.
Jackman and her husband after taking an intensive 5 week course on learning French. [Marina Jackman]
Once the decision was made to continue your activity full-time, what was the first step to start developing your application?
It all started with the idea, and then how do you start thinking about what that idea will become? Because you’re thinking of something, you’re thinking of a service, and you have to ask yourself, will it be a website? Will it be a mobile app? Will it be something else? We talked to so many people, did so much research to understand if there was an actual place for something like this and realized that yes there is, because there is nothing specific like it . Nobody solves the problem like that. So we thought, well, it could be us, the people doing it.
Time2Talk connects Spanish language learners with native Latin American speakers, on demand. [Time2Talk]
What has been one of the most rewarding things since launching your business in 2020?
In general, what keeps me and the team going is knowing that we are actually helping people improve their language skills and also giving them the opportunity to have some extra income. We are creating jobs, which is an incredible feeling. But there’s this excitement every time someone calls and they can speak with a Spanish coach and talk for 45 minutes. It’s the fuel that keeps us going every day.
Time2Talk users also learn about different Latin American cultures through conversations with language coaches. [Time2Talk]
Part of the bigger picture is that you work here to bridge the language learning gap, but you also connect people from different countries. Through their conversations, I’m sure they learn about different cultures.
A language is not just words, it is a culture that comes with the language. This particular aspect of Spanish is that there are so many countries in which Spanish is spoken. In all these countries, yes, we all speak Spanish, but we have different accents, different cultures, different traditions. So it’s extremely interesting to know more about each country, because sometimes in the United States and around the world there is this misconception about Latin America that it is the same thing. This couldn’t be further from the truth and reality. It’s such a diverse region. But it’s very interesting for people who use Time2Talk to realize: “Not only am I practicing my Spanish, but I’m also talking to new people from different countries and learning about their daily lives, their cities, their traditions . So, yes, one hundred percent a language is linked to our culture. These aren’t just random words you learn.