Dale Franklin of Peanut Butter Sticks
Take a moment to meet Dale Franklin. Mr. Franklin is the President and Founder of PeanutButterSticks.com, “the best language learning software on the market”.
Peanut Butter Sticks is located in Gaithersburg, MD. Mr. Franklin’s studio consists of a video studio, 2 audio booths, post-production rooms and even a set for a children’s language learning TV series. He records all of his video and audio on site.
Inspirest discussed both the personal and business life of Mr. Franklin.
My first question is going to be obvious, how did you come up with the name Peanut Butter Sticks for a language company?
I wanted something abstract, a name that would stand out among all the language learning products on the market. Also, our methodology for presenting content makes it stick in your mind. I love peanut butter as well, and the name just “stuck.” Not to mention the web address “ peanutbuttersticks.com.”
How did you come up with the plan for Peanut Better Sticks?
I love languages and I am always studying new languages. I’ve tried various software programs, but none of them provide any tools or materials that help. They mainly just list a phrase and the translation. You need a lot more than that to understand how a language works and you need to understand exactly what you are saying.
Since I come from an IT background, I knew that there is a better way. Computers are the ideal teaching medium for presenting information that has to be reviewed frequently, and since there wasn’t a product that could help the average learner, I decided to create it.
What did you do in the IT industry?
My first project was a website in 23 languages. At the time, I had already studied over 10 languages. I have done some database work, user interface design, requirements drafting and other projects. I have a Bachelors Degree in Russian and International Relations from Brigham Young University. I have extensive experience in IT Sales and Marketing, which required me to travel a lot. My travels included places like the Middle East and China, so I always had a need to pick up a language quickly, which fueled my need for this software.
Where did you receive your startup funding and how do you fund your operation?
I do not have any Venture Capitalists or outside organizations that funded PeanutButter. The company was funded with my own personal money, as well as resources from family and friends. We are still in startup mode, so we run on a strict operating budget.
Rosetta Stone is the big boy in this market, how does your software compare?
Our software is designed to make sure you understand everything you study and can then quickly use it to say what you need to say. Additionally, we provide content that you will use the next time you need to speak.
Rosetta Stone has a big marketing budget, and this have allowed them to become the leader in the market. However, their product doesn’t actually explain anything to you. It doesn’t provide definitions or grammar. They bill at is “learn a language the way you learned your first language.” Well, that isn’t possible because the way we acquire language skills changes as we get older. Everybody knows that. You need to understand everything you study. Otherwise you are blindly memorizing.
PeanutButter ensures you understand what you are studying and can use it. It’s very powerful and completely unique among language learning products.
Also, we make customized versions for specific industries at a very reasonable cost. Right now, we’re making an Urdu product that includes software, DVDs and booklets. It’s an amazing product.
How do your market your product?
We mainly market our product at PeanutButterSticks.com. In addition, I attend foreign language trade shows where I network with professors and teachers of foreign languages.
We also have a great iPhone application on iTunes that puts our name in the market. We have received tremendous positive feedback on this product. It’s the first ever video-based language learning program on iTunes.
Your product seems to be well received, why?
My product is like no other on the market. I’ve received literally hundreds of compliments from foreign language teachers who told me that this is the most innovative learning software they have ever seen.
The National Spanish Exams asked us to record their 2010 and 2011 exams because of our work with Spanish dialects. We are the only company that presents content in multiple dialects and the only video-based program. People like video.
How many employees do you have?
We work with a lot of translators and language experts. Our staff constantly shifts to adjust to whatever language we are focusing on. Right now we have Arabic, Russian, Urdu and Spanish projects in the making. At our peak we have 12 staff when we were finishing up our first release of Spanish.
We also bring in interns from the local colleges. They get tremendous hands on experience with every aspect of video and audio production, including animation. They get to do things that they would normally only dream about. We also encourage them to work on their own projects as well. We’re always looking for energetic and creative minds.
Tell me about your personal life?
I have 5 wonderful kids, my youngest is 5 and my oldest is 13 years old. As you can imagine, all my kids have taken a love for languages just as I have. All of them know phrases in multiple languages.
My wonderful wife speaks both Spanish and Russian. Her passion is photography. She actually has an online blog at betterinbulk.net where she discusses everything related to photography. You can learn more about me on her site as well.
What are your challenges?
It’s challenging trying to structure a balance between my personal life and my business. Sometimes I have to put long hours into my business that I would rather be spending with my family. I know there is a balance between the two that can be obtained. I realize that there is a never ending wave of something that needs my full attention. Instead of running away, I embrace the wave and focus on whatever is most important at the specific time in my life. The most important thing is to realize what you can realistically accomplish within a certain time frame and work to get it done, rather than stressing about everything that has to be done.
One aspect of business and personal life that is really important is to never trade in your beliefs and morals for the success of your business.
What keeps you going every day?
My kids and my wife motivate me. I really enjoy spending time with them, and I know that once PeanutButterSticks.com gets in steady operation, we will spend more quality time together. I am also motivated by making something that will allow anybody to learn a foreign language. That is an energizing feeling.
If you had a fully funded bank account, what would you do different starting tomorrow?
I would hire a sales staff to aggressively market the software. I would have my sales team target language educational bloggers so they could review the product and reach more consumers. In addition, I would like to reach PTA associations, non-profits and other organizations that need a fundraiser. An investment in language software is better than an investment in 5 yards of wrapping
Inspiring Moment – Mr. Franklin mentioned that there is nothing more important than keeping your good morales when striving for “success”. In business, your morales and ethics are always going to be challenged. Don’t sell yourself or someone else short to get a contract or win an award. It’s not worth it at the end when you’re standing alone on the pedestal and the only positive sign is the fake smile on your face, because your conscious doesn’t agree with you.
Connect with Dale Franklin and Peanut Butter Sticks
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