Blog: Mike Teshuba

Mike Teshuba is the co-founder and chief technology officer at Mango Languages, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based provider of self-study language learning software that teaches practical conversational skills for the world's most in-demand languages.

Mike has been an entrepreneur ever since the age of 19, when he started his first business with his brother Jason, one of the co-founders of Mango. He has worked on a diverse array of projects including e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, content management systems, CRM systems, and many others.

He has a degree from Michigan State University in computer science engineering.

When Mike isn't geeking it out in front of his computer, he enjoys snowboarding, water sports, golf, poker, and a host of bar games. Being highly competitive and annoying, he loves to gloat when he defeats his opponent in whatever game he is playing. If you are his friend, he takes no greater pleasure than rubbing it in after he has defeated you. However, if Mike doesn't know you he acts really humble if he wins. Although he dishes it out, he has a bit of a harder time taking it. It really is fun to see him squirm in anguish after he has been defeated.

Mike recently married a Colombian woman and will soon be vacationing in Colombia to gain new cultural experiences to bring back to Mango.  He's excited about this new phase in his life where he will have the opportunity to put all of the skills he has learned through Mango to use.

Mike Teshuba - Most Recent Posts:

Post 2: Five Things to Consider When Scratching Your Entrepreneurial Itch

1.  To build something great, you must first have a great purpose.
Great companies are built from a great sense of purpose.  Having run many businesses, I know that there is a significant difference in starting with an idea to build something as opposed to just starting a business to make money.  

A great company has a purpose, a mission, and a clear set of beliefs that it lives by.  It stands for something that people can believe in and rally behind.  With my early business ventures, there was a lack of vision. This led to businesses that weren't incredibly inspirational.   After many years of experience as well as reading, listening to others, and hashing things out with my partners, we created Mango Languages.  

Our purpose: To deeply enrich lives by leading the world to language and cultural understanding.  We built this company on the core values of Quality, Innovation, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Fundipline (a word we made up to define a good balance between having fun and discipline), Positive Attitude, and Integrity. From our purpose and our core values we have inspired ourselves and others to work together to achieve many great things.  

So when thinking about starting a business, look inside, find your passions and how you could contribute to your community and the world and ask yourself, "How can I build something great?"   

2.  Be a laser beam.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years is that if you try to be everything to everyone, you will not be able to become great at anything for anybody.  Especially when you are first starting out.  Usually you will have limited resources and you must focus.  I realize that sometimes you have to explore some options and many people have probably told you not to put all your eggs in one basket, but if you try to do too much you will not succeed at greatness.

Laser beams make holes because they focus their energy in one small area.  Be a laser beam.  Find your niche and focus on it.  Doors of opportunity will open up to you when you do that and you will be so happy that you did.

Here's a small experiential example.  When I started my second business, our plan was to launch a bunch of websites selling different products.  We started out with a few products we really believed in.  The first was selling language learning products and the second was selling juicers.  We spent a lot of time on these two sites and they were doing well.

 Then we started adding on new sites to our portfolio.  At one point we had about 10 sites.  Most of them did not produce any profit for us.  One of the biggest reasons for this was, we were spread too thin and didn't have the resources to make them work.  This led to a tremendous amount of wasted time.  Once we came to this realization, my partners and I sold off all of our web properties and started Mango Languages.  Now we only create and sell language-learning products and we are doing much better than we were with all 10 of our sites back then.

3.  Surround yourself with great people.
Without my business partners I wouldn't have been able to get our business going.  And without all of the wonderful people we have here at Mango today we wouldn't be able to create the language learning programs our customers enjoy.  No one is perfect, nor can everyone be good at everything.  Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and then align yourself with others who are strong in the areas where you are not.  With each quality person you add to your team you will find that your collective abilities will be much greater than the sum of everyone individually.  You are great, but with a great team you will become a force to be reckoned with.  

For as many mistakes as I have made early on, ironically enough, this is one of the very few things I did right from the very beginning.  Currently I have three active business partners.  Plus we now have the pleasure of being surrounded by a team of stellar people and together we are inspiring each other every day to meet the mission of our company.

I know many business people and the ones that do not form good teams never work as well as the ones that do.

4.  Innovate.
Companies that are not innovative will almost always struggle to make money.  If everyone else can do it this will inevitably drive down profit margins.  For example, let's say you're going to open up a gas station. There are probably at least four other gas stations in a square-mile radius around you making sure that your margins stay as low as possible on gas.  

In this case, you can innovate in other ways.  Many gas stations that are more profitable create innovation in their mini marts by having great selections.  Others have innovated by selling advertising at the pump.  Chances are though, if you just have a simple gas station with no innovative ideas, at best you're going to be struggling to make a profit.

Look at the most successful "new age" businesses today.  They are all driven by innovation.  For example, think about Google and Apple.  Think about how they have changed the world through innovation and all of the profit and rewards that they've received from this.

Now maybe you are asking yourself, "How can I compete with these giants?"  Well the answer is, innovation doesn't have to be something so grand.  There are many small innovations that businesses can be created around.  Here's an exercise: for the next three months, whenever you are doing something think about a simple invention that could make your task easier.  I bet within the first month you will find more than one idea that you can implement very cheaply and start a business from.

5.  Find something you love to do.
Life can be tough sometimes.  We all have pressures to pay bills.  During the midst of all this it can be tough to take a step back and think a bit.  Think about all of the information we have talked about here today.  It seems there's a sense of urgency for action that takes over.  Try to find the space to think.  

Expand your mind to think about the world you live in and if you could do anything, what would it be.  Since you only live once and you're already thinking, why not think about having a career that you love, a job that you love, a business that you love and are proud of.

When you mix this element into everything it makes it all worthwhile.  So be selfish a bit and take some time in this whole process to think about what you would love to do and work that into your plan.  Look at it this way; even if things don't go as planned, at least you had fun doing it.

Post 1: Why Aren't There More Companies Like Mango Languages in Detroit?

Detroit is a city with many great accomplishments and offers a lot to be proud of, from the automotive industry to Motown to the many sports teams at home that bring a lot of pride to our city every year.

It is commonly known that Detroit is not without its problems. One being the image that it has and how it affects attracting and retaining young talent.  Another being that we are predominantly dominated by the automotive industry that has been struggling to regain its foothold in the American economy.  

Being a native born Detroiter and a business owner for almost ten years, I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of great, creative, and innovative minds that live in our city.  I have also had the pleasure to see a lot of people that care and are working to breathe new life back into Detroit.

Unfortunately one thing that stands out the most to me is that there is only a small number of businesses that I know of like ours around the Metro Detroit area.  Our company is called Mango Languages.  We are a young and vibrant self-study language-learning software company that is changing the face of the language learning industry.   We are employing talented people who are mixing cutting edge research and software development technologies to build the best language learning products available.

There is a real opportunity here in Detroit for intelligent people to step up as leaders and to develop innovative businesses that are driving the new economy – businesses that have a culture that entices young talent to build their lives and careers here in Detroit.  Maybe you are asking yourself right now, "Could I be one of these leaders?", "How would I do that?", or "How can I contribute and create a nice living for myself here in Detroit?", or, "This sounds like it might be my calling."  

In conclusion, the movement to rebuild, revitalize, and rebrand Detroit has already begun.  I believe that innovative businesses, businesses that are really making a difference to mold the direction of the world and businesses that have a culture that attracts and retains young energized talent will be an essential component of the revitalization of Detroit as a whole.  

Stay tuned for my post tomorrow that talks about starting your own business!

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