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Entrepreneur Pablo Vila returns to Lima to found Auslang English Institute
Pablo Vila, co-founder and general manager of Auslang English Institute. (photo: Jacques Custer)
By Diego M. Ortiz
March 4, 2013
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Pablo Vila’s family left Peru when he was two years old. They relocated to Sydney, Australia at a time when Peru was going through one of its darkest sagas. He arrived in Sydney at such a young age that he grew up like a typical Australian—going to school, playing rugby, and working. For years, Vila’s only knowledge of his birth country was based on the stories his parents told him.
In 2007 Vila returned to Peru to get to know his roots after a 23-year absence. What he found was a country and a city that was growing and full of opportunity. As someone with training in business management, he saw the potential to build a business of his own. He decided to stay and test the waters.
One of Vila’s passions is teaching. He loves to learn and teach others, so he began his run at making a life in his parent’s country by finding students who were eager to learn English in Lima. After a few years, Vila turned his network of English students into Auslang English Institute.
Prior to starting the business, he had a few English students that helped him make ends meet. Eventually, he registered the business and turned it into a fullfledged company. He saw the opportunity to make a language center and he used his connections and word of mouth recommendations as a launching point.
He has the help and support of another expat, his business partner, girlfriend, and co-founder of Auslang, Teresa Baldassari from California.
“She is enthusiastic and works hard,” Vila says. “Her prospective and work ethic from back home helps keep the company on track. Procrastinating is so common in Peru, so you need someone to stay on track.”
Pablo Vila and Teresa Baldassari, owners of Auslang. (photo: Courtesy of Auslang)
After three years, Auslang English Institute isn’t quite the household name, nor does it compete with the large institutes like Britanico or ICPNA, but that’s never been Vila’s goal.
He views Auslang as more of a “boutique institute” that targets those young entrepreneurs who want to learn business English.
“Last year no one had heard about us,” Vila said. “But now we’re starting to compete with the other boutique institutes.”
The institute currently serves about 70-80 students per month, and has 8 full-time employees, and they are currently looking to double their profits from last year.
Vila keeps setting higher goals.
“This year we want to double it,” he said. “We're at the stage where we’re seeing growth. But once we cross and see a little bit more success we’ll be able to do more.”
To build on the success they have seen with the English program and to realize the growth that Vila wants to experience, Auslang is kicking off a Spanish program for expats and tourists visiting Peru.
He wants to build a model where a percentage of every Spanish student’s tuition goes to an NGO in San Borja.
Vila says that one of the best surprises of working in Lima is the tradition of mentoring that exists amongst business owners.
“Here people are willing to talk to you and give you advice,” Vila said. To future entrepreneurs, he says, “don’t be afraid to reach out and get help from people who have been here for a while.”
The best advice he received was to not be afraid of change. He’s used that advice in his business by implementing more technology into the classroom and into the day-to-day operations of the business.
“There’s always something else to learn, especially with technology,” he says. “There are so many ways to save time and be more profitable.”
Lima is all about networking. According to Vila It doesn’t matter what market or product you choose as long as you study the market, get involved, and get in touch with people.
Five year projection
Vila and Baldasarri are in the process of completing their five-year projection. Just last year the institute rented an office on Avenida Jose Pardo in Miraflores, and Vila says it’s already too small for the business.
In the next couple of years, he wants to open two or three other centers to give personal attention to the student, which he sees as the business’ key to success.
In two or three years time, if the opportunity presents itself, they want to spread out to Chile or Colombia, and for the company to be self-sustainable.
The idea is to build a self-sustainable model, so that he can start new business ventures and continue his entrepreneurial spirit with more businesses in Lima.
Vila wants to open a restaurant-bar in Lima one day.
“It’s always been a passion of mine, and with my experience and travels I think I could offer something a bit different,” Vila said.
Bureaucracy can be a problem, Vila says. You have to cut through so much red tape, but the laws aren’t as restrictive as at home.
“Here you have less government and that liberates you to spend more time to grow the business.”
When he first came over there was some culture shock.
“I am Peruvian; I look Peruvian. People expect you to speak perfect Spanish, and I thought I did, but I didn’t when I came here,” he said. “That was a huge culture shock. It makes you wake up a bit.”
Vila is optimistic about Peru’s future.
“Its hard to say where we’ll be in 20 years, but as long as the government doesn’t get too involved, it can become a superpower in South America and around the world,” Vila said. “We have a great economy, the people are pitching in. Peru is far behind, but its moving forward. There’s no going backward.”
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Total coments: 2
Commented By: tolver
On: March 4, 2013. 5:36 pm
I agree with Pablo Vila in his optimism about networking in most types of business in Peru. With the cooperation of hard-working, enthusiastic and well-trained people, Auslang is bound to succeed in the very near future.
Commented By: Mary
On: March 4, 2013. 6:03 pm
This is an uplifting article! I wish them all the best. It takes vision, talent, and fortitude to do what Vila and Baldassari have accomplished.
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