Local Company, International Impact

FSU startup and Domi member The World Phone recently took their language learning platform to Antalya, Turkey to participate in Startup Turkey, a three-day startup event that caught worldwide media attention, including NPR. The weekend attracted more than 700 attendees, 150+ investors, and 100+ startups from around the world.

So how, you might ask, did The World Phone end up pitching in Turkey? After interacting with event organizers via Instagram and jumping through follow-up interviews, Michael McCluskey and Naveed Darbani received an invitation to present at Startup Turkey. It only seems natural that The World Phone, born in Spain, developed in the U.S., and at its heart a worldwide service, expanded its eclectic borders once again, this time into Turkey.

“I figured what better place to market a language learning service than Turkey, a country rapidly developing their English learning markets,” said McCluskey.

Funded by the Community, Driven by Entrepreneurship

Getting to Turkey, however, was no easy feat. The World Phone took to Kickstarter to fund their trip overseas. “Another great side effect of Kickstarter campaigns is they can easily generate a lot of buzz and PR,” said McCluskey. “A quick video pitch, rewards-based giving, and tangible goal work well when trying to market.” After a 12-day campaign, the two met 105% of their goal and paid for major traveling expenses.

Throughout the weekend, startups pitched to closed groups of investors. Fifteen startups were selected to pitch on stage to a panel of judges. McCluskey described the elevator pitch experience as exciting but intimidating. “Two minutes and thirty seconds seems to rush by when you are on stage. The lights and atmosphere of an event like that are difficult to prepare for, especially if you have not had much experience,” he said.

The World Phone’s language learning platform works to connect the world by eliminating language barriers. Their team is made up of Michael McCluskey and Naveed Darbani, both FSU entrepreneurs. The platform allows learners of all languages to connect virtually and improve communications together through conversation. Currently in the MVP stage of product development, McCluskey and Darbani partnered with Cuttlesoft, another Domi-based startup, to develop an early product and get an MVP in front of investors and focus groups.

“Overall, Startup Turkey was an inspiring and extremely beneficial experience,” said McCluskey. “It showed us a taste of what the future can hold if we continue developing our product and gaining users.”