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Bernhard Niesner
CEO & Co-Founder
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“You are fully responsible of the failure as well as the success of the company, and I think that’s great”, Bernhard Niesner talks about being CEO & Co-Founder of busuu. “We provide language courses and combine it with direct interaction with native speakers, so people can practice their skills with real people among our community”, he explains the concept.


Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!

So, if I had to give myself an advice I would say, “Bernhard go out and travel, go into the world, meet other cultures, do as much as you can, go, live abroad and also start learning languages early on because it’s simply easier when you are younger than when you are a bit older.” The second advice would be, “Wait to have kids and to form a family. It is a wonderful thing, so definitely do it, but just wait a little bit and don’t do it too early because it is a big responsibility.” And the last advice would be: “Life is full of wonderful moments but also more difficult moments and that’s just part of life and you should embrace the difficult moments as much as you embrace the wonderful ones because they will form you as a personality”.

Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?

My name is Bernhard Niesner and I am the CEO and co-founder of

Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?

What is really cool about being a CEO and founder of a startup is the fact that you have full responsibility and you can just implement your dreams and your vision. And you are fully responsible of the failures as well as the success of the company and I think that’s great. And besides that we as Busuu we are helping millions of people around the world to learn another language and it is just wonderful to travel and to meet real users which, due to your application that you have created, had the ability to learn another language.

Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?

The limitations of being a founder of an internet startup clearly are that it is very time consuming and everyone who wants to go into the internet world should be aware of that that you have to spend hundreds of hours within your office and work very, very hard. And the second part is that there are obviously also financial restrictions. So when we started we didn’t pay ourselves any salary, we lived up on our savings, so financially it is also kind of a risky thing but then again, I really think it is worth it.

Worum geht es in Deinem Job? is the world’s largest social network for language learning. So we provide language courses and combine it with direct interaction with native speakers. So people can practice their skills with real people among our community. We have now grown the company to over 50 million people around the world and are growing up to 100,000 new users. So my job as the CEO is a very broad role. I have all sorts of different hats. So first of all, it is kind of developing the vision of the company and understanding where the product is going in the future. The other very important role is hiring the right people and motivating the people, making sure that they are focused within the company of doing the right things. And last but not least, I also deal a lot with investors to make sure that we get the financial resources on board and I also deal with all sorts of public events and PR. Every day is completely different so one day I might be in a conference maybe in San Francisco and another day I am in the office and I have several interviews with potential candidates. Another day I am meeting with the product team and decide on the future app that we are going to launch. So it is a very, very broad role and that’s the fun part because you can't really tell when you come into the office in the morning what’s going to happen.

Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?

So originally I am from Vienna. I was born here, went here to the kindergarten, to primary school and then I went to a commercial school to a Handelsakademie because I was already interested in business topics and then I decided to study international business at the University of Economics here in Vienna. And after that I joined Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in Munich and I was working there in the consumer goods and retail team on different international projects for international consumer goods clients. It was a very good training as a first job right after university. And after that I wanted to do a career break and decided to do an MBA at IE Business School which is a leading business school in Madrid with a very strong focus on entrepreneurship. And I went there because I had this dream of once founding my own company and I met there my co-founder. We developed this idea of Busuu and we first started in Madrid which was roughly seven years ago and two years ago we decided to move our operations to London.

Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?

So I think as entrepreneur it is very important to have a very broad skill set because you are confronted on a daily basis with all sorts of topics and that’s why I believe it was actually quite helpful that I had a business degree and I worked in consultancy which is a very good school for learning all sorts of different topics. But it was also good that I had a technical co-founder which helped me on the technical challenges that we had to face. So rather, I would say you can definitely found your own company in the internet space and be successful but of course it is helpful if you had a job before and if you gained already some experience in all sorts of different industries.