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Dec. 19, 2022

Genady Knizhnik On Creating A Market Disruption And Changing Lives (#187)

Genady Knizhnik On Creating A Market Disruption And Changing Lives (#187)
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“You have to learn early focus on what you can do.” - Genady Knizhnik

Genady Knizhnik is a passionate technical and organizational leader with entrepreneurial and corporate experience. Genady spent years in the Israeli start-up scene prior to moving to Canada. In Canada, Genady co-founded a technology company, which was eventually acquired.

During his tenure at Agfa HealthCare, Genady´s expertise and entrepreneurial drive lead to his appointment as the Business Development Director for all of Europe, the Middle-East and Africa (EMEA). Following the appointment, he and his family resided in Belgium for 3 years. In his role, Genady was responsible for delivering multi-million dollar sales objectives and in charge of developing sales capabilities of a new product portfolio across the region.

Through his extensive travel, Genady has developed a firm belief that HealthCare and Education are the most important tenets of a prosperous society. Today, Genady spends his professional time dedicated to improving people´s lives through technology across these two domains. Genady now lives in Toronto and is a devoted husband and father of two daughters. He is an avid sailor and sports enthusiast and enjoys world travel with his family. Genady holds an MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business and a BSc in Information Technology from Israel Institute of Technology (“Technion”)

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Enjoy the interview!


[00:00:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast where you learn how to extract your business and personal Deep Wealth.

[00:00:11] Jeffrey Feldberg: I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg.

[00:00:14] Jeffrey Feldberg: This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience.

[00:00:20] Jeffrey Feldberg: When it comes to your business deep wealth, your exit or liquidity event is the most important financial decision of your life.

[00:00:28] Jeffrey Feldberg: But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time and your hard earned money wasted.

[00:00:37] Jeffrey Feldberg: Of the quote unquote "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave 50% to over 100% of the deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

[00:00:51] Jeffrey Feldberg: I should know. I said "no" to a seven-figure offer. And "yes" to mastering the art and the science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said "yes" to a different buyer with a nine figure deal.

[00:01:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event?

[00:01:08] Jeffrey Feldberg: Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing the skills that built your business are the same ones to sell it.

[00:01:15] Jeffrey Feldberg: After all, how can you master something you've never done before?

[00:01:19] Jeffrey Feldberg: Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and the 9-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the best deal instead of any deal.

[00:01:28] Jeffrey Feldberg: At the end of this episode, take a moment and hear from business owners like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience.

[00:01:35] Jeffrey Feldberg: Genady Knizhnik is a passionate, technical and organizational leader with entrepreneurial and corporate experience. Genady spent years in the Israeli startup scene prior to moving to Canada. In Canada, Gennady co-founded a technology company, which was eventually acquired.

[00:01:52] Jeffrey Feldberg: During his tenure at Agfa HealthCare, Gennady his expertise and entrepreneurial drive led to his appointment as the business development director for all of Europe, the middle east, and Africa. Following the appointment, he and his family resided in Belgium for three years. In his role, Genady was responsible for delivering multi-million dollar sales objectives and in charge of developing sales capabilities of a new product portfolio across the region.

[00:02:23] Jeffrey Feldberg: Through his extensive travel Gennady has developed a firm belief that healthcare and education are the most important tenants of a prosperous society. Today, Gennady spends has professional time dedicated to improving people's lives through technology across these two domains. Genady now lives in Toronto and is a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

[00:02:47] Jeffrey Feldberg: He's an avid sailor and sports enthusiast and enjoys rural travel with his family. Gennady holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business. And the BSC in Information Technology from the Israel Institute of Technology.

[00:03:02] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast, and you would expect nothing less than a truly superb episode, and we are not going to disappoint because today with us, you heard it in the official introduction, we have really a very talented business owner, entrepreneur, startup, founder, you name it.

[00:03:19] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, I'm gonna stop right there. No more spoiler alerts. Genady welcome to The Deep Wealth Podcasts and you know what?

[00:03:25] Jeffrey Feldberg: There's always a story behind the story. So, Genady, what is your story? What got you to where you are today?

[00:03:31] Genady Knizhnik: First of all, Jeffrey, thank you very much for having me here. And to answer your question is that my partner, Chris, and I, we are very passionate about education and specifically literacy. And so, for many years we were trusting ideas and just playing with different technology in that space. And one thing that we discovered during that process is that reading represents the most recommended path toward achieving fluency and proficiency in any language.

[00:03:59] Genady Knizhnik: And that got our attention. And we also focused us on the digital language learning market. So, we started research in that market and we came to the conclusion that there is a gap in that industry right now, is that there is a lack of tools for intermediate and advanced language learners because I'm sure your listeners and you aware that there is a gazillion of applications out there that teach English, for example, and the primary focus is foundational skills building so, basically spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, and so on. But as soon as a student master those applications, they reach some sort of a learning plateau because the next step for them is to go and work with tutors or courses, which is quite expensive.

[00:04:41] Genady Knizhnik: The price point changes dramatically when you move from the application space to the human space, and we believe that gap is addressable with today's technologies, and this is how we got started.

[00:04:53] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, Genady let's talk about that and for our listeners, as you're talking through this, they're very familiar with the Nine Step Deep Wealth roadmap, and step number one, the big picture is really what you just shared with us right now because you said, hey, we looked around. And we found not only a problem, but a painful problem, and we're really passionate about solving it.

[00:05:15] Jeffrey Feldberg: There's a gap in the marketplace. Nothing's really going on with that. Why don't we be the ones to jump in and make the difference? So, when you went from this idea to, let's start this business, how did you go about doing that? What really made the difference for you?

[00:05:30] Genady Knizhnik: In order to be successful in that industry. You have to show some really true innovation because the market is conditioned by many companies. And there are lots of messages. Some of them are correct, some of them incorrect, and about how much time you need in order to improve so, 10 minutes a day and you will learn another language and so on.

[00:05:50] Genady Knizhnik: So, there is a lot of misconception, but also there is a lot of, it's a very crowded market. What we were trying to do is just to identify through differentiation and that came from a combination of the both the technology, which is we utilize the latest PAD that are out there with the methodology, which is the interactive reading or guided reading, that all conceptualize in our heads. But in order to achieve that, we went through many iterations. We did a bunch of trials. We worked with different peoples, we worked with potential customers and so, on we were trying to see whether we had delusional or not. Maybe it's just we fell in love with something that is no real. And through that process it became, it's just crystallized and crystallized, and we went through many iterations and to the point that now we have users that spend between 20 to 50 minutes a day using the application daily. We have one guy that did 174 minutes or something like that in one day, which is enormous for today's world where the attention is so fractured and people just spend two seconds on everything.

[00:06:55] Genady Knizhnik: And so, that gave us a belief that maybe we are on something correct.

[00:06:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so, why don't we talk a little bit about that, and very appropriately, even the website, it's and AI is central to what you're doing.

[00:07:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: And in particular, you have a butterfly, a beautiful butterfly, and a frog so, what's the significance why those two characters Is it symbolic for something, or what's going on with that?

[00:07:19] Genady Knizhnik: Yes, it is symbolic and as I mentioned, our passion stems from education and because we are big believers that education transforms people's lives, because without education, without specific knowledge, you cannot advance your career or change your prospects in life.

[00:07:34] Genady Knizhnik: If you think about butterfly and the frog, Butterfly transforms from caterpillar into butterfly and tadpole becomes a real frog. So, basically, it's about transformation. It's about transforming your life, and Lillypad is a platform for the next step, So, it's kind of our branding and everything we do is surrounding the three elements, but primarily core in making the difference in people's lives and giving them an opportunity to basically leapfrog from, from that platform.

[00:08:06] Jeffrey Feldberg: I really like the symbolism behind that. And, you know, before we jump into the technology, what's also interesting, I'll call it your business ethos, because there's some founders that I speak with that are, okay, Jeffrey, we found this gap in the marketplace. And man, oh man, are we gonna make a fortune?

[00:08:21] Jeffrey Feldberg: You know, we're gonna solve this problem and we're gonna get a lot of money doing that. And yes, you certainly Genady you have that opportunity here.

[00:08:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: There's a philanthropic angle that you're also covering here. Can you share with us what's going on with that?

[00:08:34] Genady Knizhnik: So, there are a couple of aspects to this answer. From the foundational standpoint, As I mentioned, reading plays a critical role for us. So, imagine you take reading, you layer AI on top of it, and what happens is you create an interactive reading companion so, if you imagine a child-parent relationship where let's say a child reads, a parent reads back, or vice versa, they repeat after each other. Or child reads something and the parent corrects because the child mispronounces something and so on. So, now imagine that type of relationship with the an artificial being, which we call lily and so, that it's a starting point. Our technology allows our users to read. Allowed interactively with Lilly without lily by herself, repeating, and so on in many different forms. Every time they read something, every time they make a mistake, or every time they touch a specific word because they didn't know what it means, it creates a personalized experience because every word that they touched or mispronounced becomes part of their personal words and they follow them around for like when we, during our learning module, they're reinforcing the knowledge of those words, how to pronounce them, what the meaning is, and so, on.

[00:09:45] Genady Knizhnik: Plus, the problem with many applications today is that you are confined to what they decided you should be learning about so, for example, everyone needs to know how to buy a ticket at the train station, which is okay. It's an important skill, but not necessarily good for advanced or intermediate learning.

[00:10:04] Genady Knizhnik: Because intermediate learning coming to, and we are talking about the melting pot, like you just mentioned, that coming to New York or whatever, and you want to work in the financial industry, you need to know financial How do you get that? You go and you import an article from Bloomberg, or you upload the book written by Warren Buffet, whatever, and you use that as reading material for yourself.

[00:10:27] Genady Knizhnik: And by reading what you love or are interested in, you learn the language, but you also acquired the knowledge. So, this is one aspect, so, the openness of this. And the second part is you and I can read the same thing, but we will make different mistakes and so, it does not make sense to drill you on my mistakes and vice versa.

[00:10:45] Genady Knizhnik: So, this is also taken into account, we combine openness of the platform with hyper-personalization. Plus the reading methodology and learning methodology creates this unique very immersive experience that helps you to progress endlessly because there is no limit to what you can read.

[00:11:02] Genady Knizhnik: You can start from very basic text and you can, in the end, you can end up with some academic papers that have very specific terminology. It's up to you, obviously, we provide a lot of material like TED Talks and famous speeches for people to start from, but if you are a professional who wants to prepare for a specific industry, this is the best way of doing it.

[00:11:25] We have some users that in told us that they upload a PowerPoint presentation, a text of the PowerPoint presentation because they're afraid that they will not be understood. When they present so, they read to Lilly and it helps them to pace themselves to develop their inner voice of how to talk, and at the same time get real time feedback on where they were correct or incorrect.

[00:11:47] Jeffrey Feldberg: Let's talk about that though, because you did something interesting and you just talk about that. You literally took the words outta my mouth. so, you came up with this brilliant technology but then I suspect you realize, well, the technology just on its own isn't going to be enough.

[00:12:02] Jeffrey Feldberg: We need to get content. We need to get things of interest that people will wanna read, follow along, and hear how it's being said and what's being done. And so, initially, you started with some public domain books but you've expanded because you've now said, Okay, well we can do TED Talks or your favorite blog, or you can take the text from a PowerPoint presentation that you're gonna be presenting and you can upload that onto the system.

[00:12:26] Jeffrey Feldberg: And it's a very subtle nuance that's easy to miss, but it's huge so, can you explain to our community how exactly that works and the benefits for them?

[00:12:35] Genady Knizhnik: For sure. So, imagine any type of a personal library experience I dunno, Kindle or anything like that. And usually, when you purchase a book, it just magically appears in your library.

[00:12:48] Genady Knizhnik: So, you start when you are subscribe to Lily Pad, you start with a predefined library already that is from public domain plus, as I mentioned, TED Talks, famous speeches, blogs, and so, on, but also, Imagine that now you read an article on the internet and you just copy URL of that article, you paste it.

[00:13:08] Genady Knizhnik: Our application, just go behind the scenes, sucks texts out, and makes that article part of your personal library.

[00:13:15] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay.

[00:13:16] Genady Knizhnik: and now you can come back to it always. Or if you have a Word document or a PDF file that you created or whatever you got it and you think it's important for you to get familiar with, you can just upload it.

[00:13:29] Genady Knizhnik: And it becomes part of your library too. Or you can subscribe to your favorite blog so, for example, like something that interests you, technology, finance, whatever. And every post that you are interested, you click on it. The same technology goes behind the scenes, sucks the information out, and makes it available in your personal library.

[00:13:47] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, really what I'm hearing is wherever there's written text effectively, whether it's even behind a gated kind of content system, as long as I have access to that, I can do a copy and paste, or I can put a URL into whether it's the app or the website. That information goes into my personal library.

[00:14:08] Jeffrey Feldberg: And then from there the AI is going to take over so, at a minimum Lily pad becomes like an audiobook for whatever I want out there. Is that correct? That if I don't have time to read or I have a big commute and I'm driving and I say, Wow, this is a 20 page article. I'm fascinated, but I can't get to what I can put into Lily pad, and now I'm hearing it audio-wise.

[00:14:28] Genady Knizhnik: And yeah, you're absolutely correct and one of the elements that are critical for language learners is to get familiar with the sound of language. So, you have to get used to it. so, this is one of the reading modes. It's a listening mode, but you're absolutely correct.

[00:14:43] Genady Knizhnik: But it's one of those because you don't have any interaction, you do not read aloud, and if you're on commute and you just want to listen to it, you absolutely can do that. Yeah.

[00:14:51] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so, I'm thinking now of businesses who are onboarding talent and at least where we sit today at the recording time of this podcast. Finding talent isn't so easy. There is a shortage of talent so, in other words, it's an employee's marketplace and so, we're working with talent. We're doing the best that we can with that, and because we're now so, the talent that we hire, they may not be physically in our city. They may be halfway around the world. Maybe English is a second language, but for a business as an example, through Lily Pad, I can go to my team and say, hey, you know what? English isn't your second language, but we have big plans for you. Why don't you go through lily pad system and begin to get the nuances of English and the pronunciation and get you the confidence when you're speaking with customers or you're doing a sales presentation, you know that you're doing it right.

[00:15:39] Jeffrey Feldberg: Am I on base with that?

[00:15:40] Genady Knizhnik: It's the absolutely correct so, just the most trivial example could be call centers because call centers are outsourced call centers, they always go through scenarios. They have certain scenarios, how they greet the customer, how they resolve issues and so, on, and there is the same patterns of the conversations.

[00:15:56] Genady Knizhnik: Also, the product knowledge is the same and so, on so, you. Utilizing the suggestion that you just made. You just, I can upload this particular rule book or whatever it's called there, and go through it with Lily and familiarize yourself not only for the purpose of onboarding but while doing it aloud.

[00:16:14] Genady Knizhnik: You will also make sure that you sound okay.

[00:16:17] Jeffrey Feldberg: That is so, terrific. And let's go a little bit behind the technology now because. You really tapped into something that people have been doing for eons. You know, back in the day before we had television and the internet, people would listen to the radio. And then from the radio, we had television and now the internet.

[00:16:33] Jeffrey Feldberg: But even case in point here at Deep Wealth, and in our business group in general, one of my business partners for Embanet Waleuska, who came from Central America, not speaking a word of English. If you were to ask her how did you learn English? She'd say, Well, I watched the program. Remember Alf, you know, with that alien from outer space,

[00:16:52] Jeffrey Feldberg: but Lilly Pad is like that, but so much more sophisticated. so, how do you start getting results quicker now with the AI and with the technology and taking an old concept and bringing new life to it?

[00:17:02] Genady Knizhnik: First of all, there is no magic and you get what you put in as everything else. And this is one of the comments I made earlier, is that. Sometimes this industry, I'm talking about language learning industry, likes to make claims like 10 minutes a day, 15 minutes a day, and everything magic will happen.

[00:17:19] Genady Knizhnik: We actually, on the website, we have a calculator that we build that we call fluoroscope, that will tell you where you are and where you want to be. And based on the international frameworks, it'll tell you how long will it take you to learn it, given how much time you're going to spend during the week.

[00:17:35] Genady Knizhnik: And it just may build it for fun because for people to just understand what to expect.

[00:17:40] Genady Knizhnik: But to get, going back to your question is that there are two elements. The more you experience our interaction with Lilly and you read aloud, the more you start hearing yourself more, you start getting confident with the way you speak. You also develop your pace, which is very important because I had to learn like English, obviously, not my native language.

[00:18:01] Genady Knizhnik: There is a stage when you learn a new language that you have to develop a pace of speaking and then being comfortable with that and so, on, and basically by working with the application. You just develop that skill and you get used to both hearing yourself and expressing yourself and while using proper, you know, proper text, which are properly structured, you also learn the structure of the sentences.

[00:18:24] Genady Knizhnik: You learn grammar even without thinking about grammar, because repetition plays a huge role in everything we do. I dunno if it makes sense.

[00:18:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: Absolutely. And so, let me Genady ask you this, and I'm always interesting because founders, they see the world differently than other people, and as business owners, we're just blessed to have that kind of vision, the space that you're in really a space that has very large players in it. Now you've certainly found something that's specialized and you're doing it differently.

[00:18:53] Jeffrey Feldberg: And with your own background, which is an episode in and of itself, Genady we're not gonna go down that path. But from your startup background, where you've been, what you've done, you know, you're certainly savvy, you're smart, your experience, you have all of the trademarks and have earned your success along the way.

[00:19:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: But you're now competing at the surface anyways from, you know, first glance in, you're competing with some really established players and so, how's the thinking with you and the team of, okay, we're up against very well capitalized players who dominate the market space. They're the 800-pound gorilla.

[00:19:26] Jeffrey Feldberg: We're just getting going. We're a startup and don't have the resources that they have. so, what was it Genady? Was there a seminal moment when you said, You know what, we can do this? Let's just go out there. Yeah, it's gonna be hard and it's not gonna be easy necessarily, but let's just go out there and do it.

[00:19:41] Jeffrey Feldberg: Was there one moment that comes to mind for that?

[00:19:44] Genady Knizhnik: Maybe not the moment, but perspective because you're absolutely correct. And so, and this was our immediate reaction, obviously Duolingo, bubble, Rosetta, Stone, like name, like all of those, you know, very successful companies then dominate the market and so, on. But when you start diving deeper into that, On the surface, you're absolutely correct, but when you start diving deeper to it, we realize we, and we believe, we do not compete we have, I dunno if you've noticed, but we position ourselves as a next chapter.

[00:20:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: That's right. The next chapter in your English learning if memory serves on your site. Yes.

[00:20:18] Genady Knizhnik: Exactly. And this is because we are not trying to compete with Duolingo. We do not have resources like it's an enormous company with enormous outreach and so, on, but we believe we provide a complimentary service to Duolingo because what I mentioned before when people reach a learning plateau, they need to go somewhere. Duolingo is an incredible company, so, we are admiring them. But when you speak to duolingo users, the first, I dunno if you've ever met some people that use Duolingo. The first thing they brag about is about the streak.

[00:20:48] Genady Knizhnik: Every day, how many days they use it, but when, okay. It's a great number. so, 300. Okay. so, for 300 days you use it, but can you speak. Can you speak the language that you're learning? Those are two completely different things.

[00:21:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Yes.

[00:21:01] Genady Knizhnik: And we believe that we can complement those people

[00:21:04] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay.

[00:21:04] Genady Knizhnik: with our technology so, it is not a direct competition.

[00:21:08] Jeffrey Feldberg: Got it. so, really what I'm hearing you say is at the surface, it may appear that the sort of overlap here, but really we're complimentary. We're synergistic with what people are doing. so, maybe you learned all these words and these word combinations. Can you speak it? Can you really understand it? Come with us.

[00:21:28] Jeffrey Feldberg: You'll hear your own voice. You have the AI technology behind the scenes that's giving you tips along the. And I also love on the site that you alluded to a little earlier, and we'll put all this in the show now. so, you do have that calculator. Okay? How much time per day are you spending? Where do you rate yourself from novice all the way on up. And you know, we're gonna tell you where you're gonna be and what that's gonna look like. So, you're really taking a no-BS approach. We're not gonna sell you a bill of goods. We're gonna tell you as it is. And if you're prepared to put in the time, here's where you're gonna get to.

[00:21:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: And this is what it's gonna look like?

[00:21:58] Genady Knizhnik: Just to build up on those two points. The fluoroscope the calculator plus the duo lingo or bubble and so, on. It's just in order to use our side, people have to have basic knowledge. It's not for just I have, I never spoken English.

[00:22:12] Genady Knizhnik: I dunno, the alphabet, I dunno how to read. It's impossible for them to use it. And it's intentional for us. We were not planning to create a side for through beginners. Because that is, this is a very crowded space and it's not an interesting space. And the interesting space is that you have achieved certain capabilities, and this is why we truly believe the next chapter or complementary is because you have to go through Duolingo through Bubbles, through other applications in order to achieve that basic level. Come to us when you want to improve.

[00:22:42] Genady Knizhnik: The second point is that back to the calculator is that but when you come to us, don't learn the language because you're hobbies. If you're hobbies, you will not persevere here. If you need to learn, then come, because as you said, we are not trying to mislead anyone, and we truly believe that you get what you put in so be prepared to read, and maybe people will find reading. Some people love reading. Some people find it not as interesting as watching movies, for example. But the impact on you as a learner, reading has a much bigger effect, especially if you do this interactive reading.

[00:23:19] Genady Knizhnik: So, we are trying to kinda filter out people who just do it for, just for the sake of, you know, because of boredom or whatever, and focus on people who really are dedicated learners.

[00:23:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: And I really like your ethos again and your approach, hey, this is who we are. This is what we do, this is what we can do, but this is what we don't do. And really the only question is how much time are you going to put in? And in addition to that calculator, you have that chart on the website. And if I recall, it starts at maybe 40, 50 hours up to around three, 400 hours, somewhere in there.

[00:23:54] Jeffrey Feldberg: And okay, depending on where you are, where are you based on this? And this is where you're going to be with our system and so, Genady, this is done in the privacy of wherever I am, correct. Whether on my computer or on my phone, whether it's the website or the app that I have access to all this information, whether it's some of the resources or books or TED talks that you've put on the site or any information from my industry that I can put in into the system.

[00:24:21] Jeffrey Feldberg: And it'll grab that and that's where the magic starts to happen, is that correct?

[00:24:25] Genady Knizhnik: Yes, that's absolutely correct. We wanted to make sure that learning on mobile or learning on desktop is the same.

[00:24:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: And just to throw this out there, as you've been going along, I know you've been getting feedback from the marketplace and from some of your different customers. Are there some success stories that you might be able to share with us of so, and so, came here and looked at what happened?

[00:24:45] Genady Knizhnik: One is that we get in our paying customers, which is great for any startup.

[00:24:50] Genady Knizhnik: Two, yeah. so, unfortunately, that not in the numbers that we would hope for. We want, but it's already a good indication that people believe that this service is valuable and they pay for it real money, which is great.

[00:25:03] Genady Knizhnik: The second point is that because we are paranoid, as you know, as the famous book said, the only paranoid survivor.

[00:25:10] Jeffrey Feldberg: I remember that book. A great book. Yeah.

[00:25:12] Genady Knizhnik: Yes. We embody that. Like we constantly trying to understand what we don't know, why, what are we doing wrong? And we are questioning ourselves all the time. We always exposed, we are trying to talk to people from the industry and so. So, we were just recently Profiled by a company from UK, which called Educational Apps, which is profiles a lot of different applications in the world of education. And specifically, they did a report on us, and it was without our involving, We just gave them, here's the URL, just write whatever you think is correct.

[00:25:43] Genady Knizhnik: And they did. It was written by professionals, so, like teachers and things, and they gave us a very good review and they gave us a seal of approval and things like that, which, and positioned them, us on their side second after duolingo you know, which was very nice for us.

[00:26:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Ah, congratulations again. That's wonderful.

[00:26:02] Genady Knizhnik: Yeah, so, yeah. No. Good things are happening. It's just, as you know, when you are in the dark and you're just fighting your fight and it's just,

[00:26:10] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Genady, let me ask you this, and this is really more on mindset, and mindset is really on the art side of business. You know, as I'm speaking with you, we've had a few conversations, and now today as we're going through this, I'm really hearing. And understated confidence in what you're doing. Even with, okay, look, here's our website.

[00:26:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: We're not gonna tell you what to write. If you like it, that's great, and if you don't like it, that's okay to do whatever you want and you put that out there. Or even when you come for prospective customers, okay? What you've put in is what you get out. We're not going to overhype, we're not gonna do anything other than this is who we are and this is what we.

[00:26:46] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, aside from Lily pad, because this is really the fabric of Lily Pad, but it's also the fabric of you as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, as a founder. Where does this come from? This understated confidence of, Okay, here I am. This is what it is. You'll like it. That's great. And if you don't, that's okay too.

[00:27:03] Genady Knizhnik: So, It's a very deep question, but I don't think I'm the only one who is the source of that confidence because my partner, unfortunately, he couldn't join us. He's a very successful serial entrepreneur, because we are so brutally honest with ourselves.

[00:27:19] Genady Knizhnik: And we constantly question ourselves and we argue about things because we just, and, but it's all towards the benefit, providing value to our customers because we obsessed with our customers because we know that it's even it's market.

[00:27:33] Genady Knizhnik: If we cannot deliver value, it just, if so, we want our customer to brag about us be conversational.

[00:27:41] Genady Knizhnik: Their peers and the, it stems from enormous attention to details that we have and it comes from the, I dunno if you have noticed it on the website, but everything we do must look well and work well.

[00:27:55] Genady Knizhnik: This is our mantra insight. It looks good, works well.

[00:27:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: Yes. Your colors pop the way you position things. I mean, all the little things that most people overlook, you've put into that and you even have the personality of the company coming through you know, and a little bit off-topic, but related, because we're talking about your culture now, which is so important for a business as it begins, that whole march towards creating that market disruption and growing you know, I know there's a big picture here of beyond the adult market space that we're talking about and what you're doing on the corporate side of things, but even on the website itself, you have all these different organizations that you call it, you and me, and cisco.

[00:28:37] Jeffrey Feldberg: And you're showing different organizations that you're really supporting and highlighting and giving illumination to so, what's that all about? Where's this coming from?

[00:28:47] Genady Knizhnik: Chris is an avid diver.

[00:28:49] Genady Knizhnik: And he's passionate about marine life and so, cisco is our corporate responsibility as the world. It's something that this organizations that we want to highlight, donate to, and so, on that focus on endanger marine animals and basically doing an important work outside of language learning.

[00:29:08] Genady Knizhnik: so,?

[00:29:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay, so, it's terrific. You're really, you're taking your passions in the business outside the business and blending them together and putting it forward to the world of, okay, here we are. This is what we're doing. And Genady, let me ask you this because you're really in the thick of things, and let's go behind the scenes for just a moment.

[00:29:26] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, technology is at the heart of what you're doing and you're making a huge difference out there because number one, you're taking the cost equation out of the picture. So, gone are the expensive one-on-one tutors that you might traditionally have done or these expensive courses. That you have to either show up in person to, or maybe you're now doing virtually, and it's at a set time and it's not at your convenience, and you're putting the power to the people at their own time, their own convenience, and they have the machine learning behind the scenes that's guiding them along the way.

[00:30:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: If you're to look out, you pick the timeframe five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now where we are today with AI and what you're doing, where do you think this is taking us and where it, it's all heading and looking.

[00:30:14] Genady Knizhnik: It's an amazing field. If we just put language learning aside.

[00:30:17] Genady Knizhnik: The innovation in different technologies that we are using, which is basically natural language processing, which is related to dialogue management, and conversation. The application of that technology is enormous.

[00:30:31] Genady Knizhnik: And because when we played with different prototypes and things like that, where before we started we played with some math related things.

[00:30:39] Genady Knizhnik: And if I had enough resources, we could have built something incredible so, but we just need, and obviously people like this without our help, we'll do that as well. If we stop tomorrow, so, we'll do it because the profound impact of what is available right now, and it will just improve, if not bigger, but at least as important as internet disruption.

[00:31:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. That's a really big statement. so, can you transport us into the future somewhat with what would that practically look like? so, today we have an app and it has content, or we're feeding it content and we're speaking to it and it's speaking to us and it's analyzing us. Where do you think it's all heading?

[00:31:18] Jeffrey Feldberg: What would that look like in the next, you know, 5, 10 years?

[00:31:21] Genady Knizhnik: I can give you some very basic, practical things that we play that we had and played with. And because both Chris and I, we have, at that time, we had young kids and we were quite concerned about the level of education they get. So, we started to play with some math-related things.

[00:31:37] Genady Knizhnik: There are millions of math games there, and it's very crowded market for children and so, on, and there are very beautiful products there.

[00:31:44] Genady Knizhnik: But we come from a perspective, same philosophy that behind the Lily pad is just, yes, it's great that you played 300 hours of the game, but do you really know what you're doing?

[00:31:53] Genady Knizhnik: We found a math methodology that is can be translated into true conversational education, I mean by machine.

[00:32:03] Genady Knizhnik: And we created a prototype and I put my daughter in front of it and she said, you know what? The best thing about that thing is that it doesn't get mad.

[00:32:12] Jeffrey Feldberg: Oh, from the mouth of a child, you know what they see and what they say.

[00:32:16] Genady Knizhnik: So, It was quite funny, but it was just a silly prototype. But the thing that to get serious is just healthcare, education, and decision-making. All of those industries are going to be disrupted. They are already being disrupted, but they will be disrupted like things that are possible even with so, this technology if you have resources and a dedicated mind, are incredible.

[00:32:36] Genady Knizhnik: Just incredible.

[00:32:37] Jeffrey Feldberg: And speaking of disruption, Genady. If we were to fast forward to any point in time, you know, we have, It is my magic wand, my famous magic wand where, okay, here's my magic wand, Genady, you've grown as a company, you've achieved the goals that you've wanted to achieve. What does Lily Pad look like for you?

[00:32:52] Jeffrey Feldberg: What's that vision of, you've made it, you've created a market domination and market disruption. You're dominating the market, you're a market leader. What does that look like as a company and what are you doing at that point?

[00:33:04] Genady Knizhnik: At that point, we are going to turn towards literacy in children.

[00:33:08] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay. And so, what does that look like? The literacy in children?

[00:33:11] Genady Knizhnik: I dunno if you're aware is, but even in the United States there are roughly 30 or 40 million adults that are illiterate.

[00:33:18] Jeffrey Feldberg: Mm-hmm.

[00:33:18] Genady Knizhnik: Which is 10% or something like that? And just forgive me if I'm mistaken, but it's quite a large number.

[00:33:23] Genady Knizhnik: And from children's standpoint, if you look again, it's a problem of literacy obviously is being addressed and there are billions and billions being important to it.

[00:33:32] Genady Knizhnik: And there are wonderful organizations out there that are trying to solve it. But I think a technological approach towards just teaching reading so, the basic thing that is in the convenience of your house or your environment with the real-time feedback, with the real-time improvement will have a tremendous impact.

[00:33:53] Genady Knizhnik: Not only because of technical aspects of it, because as you know, once you created a technology, it's very cheap. It's very cheap to replicate. There is no marginal cost of acquiring a service in another user. Like it's a minimal so, there are many things that can be done there from a technical innovation perspective, but also to bring the value for adult and child literacy or education like issues, education,

[00:34:17] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. Genady, that's a big vision attacking, really a problem that we don't hear enough about but is really there, and I can only imagine. When people who perhaps didn't have the opportunity in school, or they don't really know how to read, it's a whole other episode of the social issues and societal issues that come from that where here's an effective, yet an inexpensive solution that you're in charge of that's now leading the way to be able to do that.

[00:34:42] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so, bringing this all together then, and then we're gonna go into a wrap-up here. So, really what I'm hearing is whether it's for a business owner who just started a business, English is not the first language. You don't have that confidence when you're speaking to other people in English to sell the business or promote it or get new clients, or as a business owner.

[00:35:02] Jeffrey Feldberg: I have really talented staff. They do interface with other clients or the marketplace, and their English isn't quite up to where it, it should be. Here's a very effective both time and dollar wise, a very effective way to really round out the English and get that confidence in the person, have everything really done properly in terms of pronunciation, and very flexible in terms of doing that.

[00:35:28] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, there's all kinds of business applications, and then I'm hearing you say that from there, once you're really having that market disruption in the business world, you'll then take it to children and children who can't read an even attitude, who can't read at that point and see where that goes.

[00:35:44] Genady Knizhnik: Yeah, the only thing. Is I don't want to hear bomb like the bombastic and, you know, solving the world's problems and so, on it's, I don't want to come across as that, you know, this arm changing. It's not about that. It's just we are trying to make a difference the way we can. There's a if I may, just there's a very small story that we usually use, and I dunno if you've heard it, but there is this, Old man stands on the beach and sees another young man going just a little bit further, far from just picking up something and throwing into the water.

[00:36:13] Genady Knizhnik: So, the closer the old man comes to that boy. He sees that there are lots of starfish on the beach. And because of storm and the boy picks up the starfish and tosses them into the water so, the old man asks like, Why are you doing that? And says because I'm trying to make a difference and they want to bring them back into the ocean, he said, But it's impossible because there are so, many of them, and you will never make a difference. So, the boy picks up and throws the starfish and said, but it did make a difference for this one.

[00:36:41] Jeffrey Feldberg: A powerful story. The power of even one. Yes.

[00:36:44] Genady Knizhnik: Exactly. So, I don't want to come across as this. Oh, we had changed in the world. You know, this revolutionary, whatever. It's just we are focusing on what is possible. We are trying to make a dent in the market. We don't have any grantee or messianic ambition or anything like that.

[00:37:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Well, really you're one of the rare individuals who says, I will speak to you through my actions, not my words. And this is who we are and this is how we're making a difference. And I really admire and respect that in you. So, with that in mind, this is a terrific segue as we begin to wrap up our time together, and I'd like to do a thought experiment with you.

[00:37:22] Jeffrey Feldberg: And earlier in the episode, we're doing time travel. This is another time travel thought experiment. It's a fun one though. So, Imagine the movie Back to the Future, and in the movie, you have that magical DeLorean car that can take you to any point in time. And Genady, it's now tomorrow morning and you look outside your window and there it is.

[00:37:39] Jeffrey Feldberg: The DeLorean car is not only sitting there, but the door is open and it's waiting for you to hop on end so, you can jump to any point in your life. Maybe it's Genady as a young child, a teenager, whatever point in time it would be. What are you telling your younger self in terms of, hey, Genady, here's some life lessons, or some life wisdom, or do this but don't do that.

[00:38:03] Jeffrey Feldberg: What would that sound like?

[00:38:04] Genady Knizhnik: I would focus on the following. I think I learned that too late in life. It's just, I dunno if you're familiar with this theory or its part of this Taoist philosophy, it's just when you have three concentric circles, right there is this first circle. Is that what you control? The second circle is what you influence, and the third circle is what is outside of your control.

[00:38:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: Yes,

[00:38:25] Genady Knizhnik: You're familiar with that concept?

[00:38:27] Jeffrey Feldberg: I am. But please for our listeners, please continue.

[00:38:29] Genady Knizhnik: So, I learned it too late in life, I believe because as a paranoid person and you think about many things. You're trying to address things that are beyond your control and you burn a lot of energy in doing that so, you have to learn early and focus on what you can do.

[00:38:46] Genady Knizhnik: This is where the at of everything I'm speaking about comes, it's just focus, what is your control, focus on maybe on what you can influence, but forget everything else. And it took me some time to learn that, but I wish I learned it when I was 18.

[00:39:02] Jeffrey Feldberg: But you know what? Very wise words, terrific advice. It's a wonderful way to wrap things up with on that sentiment of really focus on the things that you can control. And Genady as I look at today and what you're saying, it's so, timely because with social media, it's just made it so, easy for us to really get caught up in so, many things that are outside of our control and it can create mental health issues and stress and all that time, energy, and.

[00:39:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: It could be put to better use, just like what you're doing and what the team is doing and other people to follow their own paths. so, that, that is absolutely terrific. And we're gonna put this in the show notes, Genady so, it'll be point-and-click. If someone would like to either learn more about the company or even get in touch with you, Genady, the one of the brilliant co-founders behind Lily Pad.

[00:39:47] Jeffrey Feldberg: What's the best way to find you online?

[00:39:50] Genady Knizhnik: So, obviously our website is and we can be found on the android mobile store so, in the Google Play. You just search for LillyPad English Learning and just, it'll show up. You will see the frog jump in it here, and if anyone want to connect with us, it's just info[at]Lillypad[dot]ai and that's it.

[00:40:10] Jeffrey Feldberg: Can't get any easier. Well, Genady thank you so, much for taking part of your day and your insights, your wisdom, and sharing your story with us. And as we wrap things up, as always, please continue to say healthy and safe.

[00:40:23] Genady Knizhnik: Thank you, Jeffrey. It was a tremendous opportunity. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

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[00:42:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: Please visit to learn more.

[00:43:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: If you're not on my email list, you'll want to be. Sign up at And if you enjoyed this episode, if it added value, if you walked away with some new insights and strategies, please leave a review on your favorite podcast channel. Reviews help us reach new listeners, grow the show. And continue to create content that you'll enjoy and as we wrap up this episode as always please stay healthy and safe.

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