Cork sisters: We want our company to go global...

LINDA KENNY continues her series of interviews with women undertaking the New Frontiers Programme at the Rubicon. This week she chats to sisters who are taking part
Cork sisters: We want our company to go global...

Sisters Kate and Becky Popova, Everywhere English taking part in the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers Programme at the Rubicon in MTU . Picture; Eddie O'Hare

When Kate and Becky Popova decided to set up a business together back in December 2021, it wasn’t exactly a leap off the precipice into the unknown.

Describing themselves as 2/3s of female triplets, they had been working with each other in a similar business for quite a few years before.

And let’s face it, they knew each other inside out from birth!

Kate admits the seeds of the current business were planted years earlier. Her initial dream revolved around teaching English to non-English speaking students on a tech platform.

When she approached her Local Enterprise Office with the idea 11 years ago, she says they sent her away to develop it more thoroughly.

“I think they felt I was too young and naïve, and that my proposal wasn’t innovative enough.” 

Now, 11 years on, Everywhere English has launched and is up and running! Kate and Becky have set themselves a lofty goal of ultimately becoming a global worldwide company.

“Everywhere English is an English learning solution that will help businesses to break down language barriers, incorporate social inclusion and build efficient and cohesive teams.” 

Always keen on language and communication, Kate began her studies in UCC pursuing a degree in education.

“I actually always wanted to be a primary school teacher”, she admits. But, during the course of her studies, an Erasmus trip to Malta unleashed in her an insatiable appetite for travel and learning, and Kate spent the next 5-6 years travelling to over 25 countries teaching English as a Foreign Language both offline and online. Some of her favourite spots included Fiji, Bali and New Zealand.

“I worked with a couple of companies. It was before online learning was even on the radar. People were scared of it. The way English was taught then was old fashioned, outdated and inefficient. And those half-formed, teenage ideas I had had came bubbling back to the surface.” By this time, Kate had secured a job with a local language start up. 

“I roped my sister into the business too, as her area of expertise is data analytics and business development.” 

After 4 years of working together in this company, Kate and Becky questioned why they weren’t running a business of their own.

Kate’s original idea, all those years ago, was a tech solution to learning English. Zoom had not yet been invented, SKYPE was the learning platform of choice.

Her primary focus was to find way to ensure students had more opportunities for learning after the online class was done.

Now, zoom is de rigeur and businesses are very comfortable with online interfacing, so she and Becky have designed and developed a technology-centred solutions-based approach to learning business-English.

Everywhere English offers a blended learning solution to maximise results through a self-learning hub and access to qualified teachers through the same dashboard. It allows those keener students to keep progressing on their own terms in their own time.

“It is like a cross between Duo Lingo and online classes,” explains Kate.

“Our focus is on business, the organisation. There are lots of non-native speakers in Ireland who can speak English to a finite level but have no access to the specific language of business.

“We work with our strategic partners SkillNet, Hayes Recruitment etc who share the same vision as Everywhere English.

“We teach work-purpose English. Our users learn how to write emails, interact with customers as a customer service assistant, display professionalism on the phone.

“Everywhere English removes the risk that the English Language could ever be a barrier to cohesion and success.” 

Thanks to Becky’s expertise in data analytics, their EdTech Solution will allow businesses to measurably track the efficacy of the programme and the consequent knock-on benefits to the company.

“The New Frontiers programme at the Rubicon Centre has been absolutely amazing. It is very motivating. The biggest thing it has given us has been support and the impetus to drive on with the business.

“We have had the EdTech solutions in gestation for a long time but the mentorship and encouragement from New Frontiers has ensured it has got off the ground. It is hard to get to this place on your own.” 

Kate and Becky have a symbiotic working relationship and describe themselves as yin and yang in their skillset.

“We have opposite skill sets which is an advantage. Being self-employed, we hold each other accountable and that is a huge bonus.” 

Sister, and fellow triplet, Amy, is in the middle of launching her own hairdressing business. And they have a family business in Marble and Granite. It is no surprise that the entrepreneurial spirit is flowing freely in the Popova household.

“Business ideas are the hot topics of our Sunday dinners” Their initial target market is Ireland, UK and Spain.

“We are looking at Spain because it is a very accessible market with lots of trading opportunities. Lots of migrants coming in.”

 “It’s the same in the UK. UK companies are on the same wavelength, and as driven, as us. Just in a different space.

“Our plan is to target senior-level managers in multinational companies with branches in Spain. With the launch of our EdTech solution, we intend to break into the Spanish market. Once we have gained market share in the Spanish-speaking countries globally, we will imitate our marketing strategy for French and French-speaking countries. And eventually go global!” 

Kate and Becky have come a long way from the ‘naïve’ entrepreneurs who had big dreams 11 years ago. And one suspects, with such determination and belief, the sky is the limit for Everywhere English.

“From little seeds grow mighty trees.”

Next week: Linda Kenny interviews Monika Wojtek of Build Zon.

For more on the work of the Rubicon Centre see

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