What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
I started Little Pim—language learning for young children—when my son was a baby. I wanted him to learn French because I grew up bilingual in French and English, and it opened so many doors for me, including scholarships to private schools and international work opportunities. I wanted him to have those same benefits. I started the company in New York City and we are still based there, though we sell our language teaching products in 22 countries.
What do you see for your future?
I am excited to keep finding ways to deliver high quality and affordable language learning to young children. Before Little Pim created a program for young children, the only kids who had access to language learning were the kids of parents who could afford expensive tutors or a foreign-born nanny. Now all kids can have access to this great brain-booster.
What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?
The constantly changing media landscape is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. When we started the company we were selling DVDs, and now we increasingly sell digital downloads and have created a Progress Tracking App and other apps for mobile devices.
How can we help your business?
Little Pim makes a great holiday gift, so we hope your readers will consider giving our gift sets to their favorite baby, toddler, or preschooler!
Where did you grow up? And how is where you came from material to your identity as an entrepreneur, if it is material?
My father was a professor of Romance languages and created the Pimsleur Method when I was a child, which allows adults to get up and running quickly in a second language. I was inspired by his pioneering work in language teaching, and combined this with my own filmmaking background and love of young children to create Little Pim. My great grandmother Ada was also an entrepreneur. She ran a cigarette and candy shop on Lower Broadway in the early 1900s!
What picture is on your phone’s home screen?
My two boys, Emmett and Adrian! They are the lights of my life. I always tell them I am the luckiest mom in the world, because I am.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
Working in an office with people I admire and enjoy toward a common goal. Having the freedom to work how, when and from where I choose!
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
I was a film major and a women’s studies minor in college and I still care deeply about gender issues. I was hungry for women role models as I built my business and couldn’t find very many—I had great mentors but most of them were men. I wrote Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big to help other women entrepreneurs coming up through the ranks learn from our milestones and mistakes!
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
My mantra: “Fortes fortuna juvat” (Fortune favors the brave). When you get brave and go outside of your comfort zone, amazing things happen.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
The best thing is having what I like to call the “Triple Win” that the entrepreneurial life affords: Money, Meaning, and Mobility. The worst thing is having to keep your mojo up all the time. As the leader of a company you simply can’t afford to lose your passion, drive, or energy for the business, and there are days when, like everyone else, you might like to get back under the covers, but you can’t!
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how? If not, why not?
I am part of an entrepreneurs organization that is 85% male and I notice that more men define success as how many zeros are at the end of their revenues or what they sold their business for. As a woman I want to make the big bucks, of course, but I don’t think money equals success, and it certainly does not equal happiness. Creating a really positive office culture, helping fellow entrepreneurs, volunteering, being a great mom, friend, daughter, and partner… these matter as much as the dollars do.
What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
“Make it easy for them,” is great advice I got from a mentor about creating partnerships and cross-marketing campaigns in the early days of Little Pim. Don’t overthink the terms or legal docs. Make it painless for other companies to partner with you and if you are seeking an endorsement or the like, tee it up for the person so all they have to do is sign. Make it easy for them. I often think of this advice when I am about to get into a big back-and-forth over terms before a deal is even real. Make it easy!
How can readers keep up with you and Little Pim?
On Twitter: @juliapimsleur and @littlepim
Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big is available here.