Q&A with Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH

Q&A with Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH
Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH is an experienced businessman who has worked in many countries. He has dedicated more than 10 years to the intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach” formulated by Vera F. Birkenbihl.  Emil and Vera have worked together on the digitalization of this language acquisition method which has been incorporated into Emil's language-learning platform, Brain-Friendly. 

In this interesting Q&A, Emil takes us through the Birkinbihl approach which is helping users worldwide to learn languages with ease.

MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us about your background?
EMIL BRUNNER:
 I started as a technician; then I changed to sales. In my heart, I’ve always been a salesman. I started my business as the first Xerox Partner in Austria, and then I managed a company selling office machines and equipment. It was my first time going into other countries, like Germany and Switzerland. In that business, I worked with many phone agents, so the company grew to an outbound sales call center. In the USA, I had my first technology experience and built an automated call machine. We then got the franchise partner of RTL Teleshop - it was after QVC the second largest in DACH, for Austria.  I gained knowledge in TV-Power plus Sales power and found it fascinating. The next step was to automate the call center.

In 2004, we ran a call center in a pizza box (computer) for teleshop companies. In the States, we closed orders for up to 60% of callers fully automated, the rest were connected to the classical human call center. It had a great future, but I did it with the wrong people. So the company went bankrupt, and we went back to Austria.
After that experience, back "home" - felt so small, and we went on to start a software development business.
I began working and studying TV & Film making at the same time. My master's degree was a documentary film about "Teleshop and new technologies.”

I met Vera F. Birkenbihl, and she was one of the most successful scientists for learning methods and strategies and held a lot of live seminars - long before TEDx came up. I produced about 10 of those seminars, gaining many skills in the process, and that's when I found out about the language learning method. Me and language? I had trouble all the time while I went to school. I was sure languages were not for me. However, my son was a successful young developer and was interested and started to develop an app for language learning - using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method. Which means, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules.

I don't know anyone who’s happy learning vocabulary. About 90+% of all people using a language (mother tongue and foreign language) are not able to describe a grammar rule — only the teachers can do it. So there must be another way without the pain. And here it was!
I tried to learn English. The goal was to speak well without thinking about what to say. I just wanted to talk.

That's it. It took me more than a year, but I had an experience I’ll never forget. I was working on my phone with many customers and collecting orders. After a while, I put the orders from my notes into the computer. Wow! I had made a request for English courses - an order from a bookstore in Birmingham. How did I do it? Yes, I did it in English, and I didn't even realize it. It was automatic. The gap, switching from German to English, was gone - forever.

In the meantime, both my sons, Herwig and Gerwin, were now professionals in software development on the international stage. I had a Swiss partner and last year, I sold my shares to set up a new company with a new app - the Birkenbihl language learning movies. The digitalization of language learning - watch a movie and get the language. Based on subscription models, we sell it now in DACH, US, and European Single markets.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning, that I am the only one, who got the okay from Vera F.Birkenbihl (she died 2011), to follow the method of the new science of language learning and take it to the next level. I got the seal of approval for the "Birkenbihl Approach" to honor products they follow with the principle of "brain-friendly" learning method.

I have put all of this experience into a new book, the follow up of Birkenbihl's bestseller "Einfach Sprachen Lernen". I completed it with Katharina Rucker, she has been on board since 2008 and is still the best blogger for language learning knowledge. The book will be published in English in Q1-2020.

"Using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules."



M7: How far is the Birkenbihl method’s idea of ‘learning a language need not be difficult’ serving its purpose of making language acquisition effortless?
EB:
 Let me say 100%. Because the "classical" way to learn a language is totally different from the way our brain works. Our brain is trying to find new things to discover, to get new experiences and so on. What is there to discover when you use a vocabulary list? For example, table - Tisch / table - la mesa, etc. it could also be shown as table - Katze (cat). There is no sense, no meaning, no context.

If you learn it the brain-friendly way as a full sentence, and you "de-code" it, your brain has enough context, and there are new words to learn. 

So it works, and it takes a minimum amount of time because our brain is memorizing everything in connections, like synapses, and that works very well, making it fun and available to use for the rest of your life.
The newest thing we have developed is the Movie(c) courses. Birkenbihl told us all the time, "a movie is the closest experience to real life". Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event. 

When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive. The "de-code line" in the movie, works as a karaoke player. The spoken word-pair is synchronized and highlighted. So you can close your eyes or your brain will automatically follow the decode line, and you will absorb the language. Repeat it, and you become perfect. It’s the digital way to learn a foreign language.

M7: How do you develop the movies and what is the approach for making users learn new languages easily with these movies?
EB: 
The classical way to learn a language is to cram grammar rules. Understanding and speaking are two processes in our brain that we have to learn separately. The idea developed by Birkenbihl was to find out how to use the mother tongue to understand a foreign language. She had done a lot of research and observed neuroscientists and decided to call the it the decode line which means you have two decoding lines – the upper line is the foreign language that you want to learn, the lower line is the word-by-word translation where you get the information about the meaning of the words.
It’s easy to follow them if you like to follow, but it’s enough if you just watch the movie. Your brain is automatically looking at the decode line and getting the information so if you repeat that you become more familiar with the sentence and you’ll understand it.

M7: How has your working with Vera F. Birkenbihl for more than 10 years helped you to come out with an intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach”? What was the idea behind this?
EB: 
Birkenbihl told me that she’d had an experience with teachers and children. The problem was that the children didn’t enjoy learning vocabulary. It was, and still is, a pain. After a couple of days, all of the learned words go. So she thought, if most people have this problem then the problem couldn't be the people, it must be the method. There must be a better way.

After that, she started researching, and she found old documents, detailing how the aristocrats (the European marriage expansion) learned languages. There were many connections between the European Aristocrats, and this old document described how they learned. There was a transcript, a direct translation underneath and a live speaker. So the learners followed the speaker and read the word pairs.

All of the experiments she did, worked very well. I remember, it was approximately 2008, there was a teacher in Odelzhause who gave the children private English lessons Coached by Birkenbihl, in 3 months, the whole class were able to speak English very well and had no problem with vocabulary tests. That was the point we realized we were onto something. Based on our findings, my son built the first application for Windows. However, if you think that’s it, no. It took a lot of time to optimize it and to do all the beta tests. But after a while, we saw that it worked, and my experience was. WOW! - I got it.


"Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event.   When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive."


M7: How is the “Birkenbihl Approach” assisting people around the world to learn more languages efficiently?
EB:
Thanks, that’s an excellent question. You can do it, totally without any app, with paper or music. Take the lyrics of the song you love and start to “de-code” (translate it word-by-word). Yes, with the app, it’s much easier, and if you have a device ready, you can fit, learning a language, into every spare moment you have. So you waste no time, get entertained and learn simultaneously. After a while, you begin to speak automatically like a baby, who is listening for a long time.
When it becomes a year old, it starts with some words, after the second year it begins, from one day to the next to speak full sentences, only by listening. So while you improve upon your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen (day and night) in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest.
It is a kind of democratization of language learning; everybody can do it, independent of age or origin.

M7: You have played a vital role in digitalization of this language acquisition method. What inspired you to take up this challenge and what was your vision behind this?
EB:
Yes, first, it was a curiosity about the possibility and a challenge for myself to learn a language up to a level to be able to sell anything. Remember, I was a weak student.
Additionally, it was the feedback from the first beta tester, later from customers that they had the same experience I had, and they are now happy and successful.  So it was sensible. Yes, a little bit also to make it easier for people. So now, I see that the end of the traditional way to learn a language is coming.

Think about it... you can watch a movie, it doesn't matter which one, and you get automatically delivered the “de-code” line. I think we'll be able to get it in the near future, we are still working on it. So you don't need any teacher, because every child is learning it like their mother tongue, additionally. For example, a Hollywood movie uses about 1000 to 1500 unique words, a daily newspaper uses about 500 to 700 unique words. So let's watch Spanish movies this weekend, and that's it. My idea is that no child should have to suffer the cramming of vocabulary.


"While you grow up your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest. It is a kind of democratization of language learning."



M7: As a language instructor, how important is resolving the problem of language acquisition as a barrier to businesses and marketing when globalization is the trend?
EB: It is vital. In two cases, one of them is, that companies spend a lot of money, year by year and nothing is changing. The costs go up, and success is equal to or less. Especially the production industries who have many difficulties, i.e. when the company is based in Germany, and the production is in Mexico. In this case, we can help. We can produce a learning movie for the technical process and add the “de-code line”, so the employees get both, the knowledge and the language. I think this is an excellent opportunity for all instructors and trainers of language. They can supply companies to work with the Birkenbihl method, and it gives more success with less time to spend. 

M7: Do you think that the Birkenbihl method will encourage more people around the world to learn languages swiftly?
EB:
Yes, that's what I hope, and it is essential to tell everybody that with this method it is possible, yes it works. Also, my hope is that it could connect people and bring more happiness. It's okay, if you start now and only spend 10 minutes every day. After approximately 6 weeks, you will get about 400 to 600 unique words. However, you can also do it in 2 weeks if you spend 10 minutes, 10 times a day (less than 2 hours). Alternatively, if you spend only 10 minutes every 3rd day, it takes a little longer. Do it when you want with the time that suits you. Overall, you get it.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
EB:
Not much, except one thing: Whatever you do, if it doesn't work, find out how it could work, there is surely another way. But, just do it.

ABOUT BRAIN FRIENDLY

The Birkenbihl Approach (BBA) means, learning as the brain loves to learn. Our brain - look to the minds of children - how they like to discover and to understand how things work. It uses neuro mechanisms like abstracting rules (grammar) and background listening (to build synapses for spelling). To know more, visit Brain-Friendly.

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Chertoff Capital advises Illuminate Operations, Inc. on the sale of its subsidiary, Cyberspace Solutions, LLC

GlobeNewswire | January 09, 2024

On Monday January 8th, Godspeed Capital Management LP (“Godspeed”), a lower middle market Defense & Government services, solutions, and technology-focused private equity firm, announced the acquisition of Cyberspace Solutions, LLC (“CSS” or “the Company”), a provider of all-source intelligence gathering, analysis, and systems development solutions for national security missions, by its intelligence, AI/ML, and Data Analytics platform, Crimson Phoenix. CSS was formerly owned by Illuminate Operations, Inc. Chertoff Capital, LLC, the investment banking subsidiary of The Chertoff Group, served as the exclusive investment banking advisor to Illuminate Operations, Inc. TRANSACTION DETAILS CSS is a provider of all-source intelligence gathering, analysis, and systems development solutions, including data and analytical support services for the Intelligence Community and U.S. Special Operations Command. CSS combines decades of intelligence expertise to deliver actionable insights that enable its national security customers to make fast and informed decisions. The Company now joins with Crimson Phoenix to support its intelligence strategy and national security objectives. Jason Kaufman, Chertoff Capital president said, “CSS is a trusted provider of all-source intelligence data and analytical support services for national security missions. The acquisition of CSS by Crimson Phoenix not only optimizes portfolio value for our client but also propels the Company towards a future marked by innovation and market leadership. We are pleased to have served as the trusted advisor to Illuminate and look forward to Crimson Phoenix’s future success.” Ryan Hoffman, Chertoff Capital principal said, “CSS aligns perfectly with Crimson Phoenix’s national security objectives. It brings a talented workforce and coveted customer relationships to the platform. This transaction reflects our dedication to delivering strategic value for mission-oriented companies. We are thrilled to have advised Illuminate on the sale and are excited for Crimson Phoenix’s promising future.” Tameika Hollis, CEO of Illuminate Operations, Inc., said, “Chertoff Capital provided excellent advice throughout the entire transaction process. They were instrumental in crafting a clear description of the value proposition of the business being divested, identifying the relevant set of potential suitors, soliciting interest, shepherding the process of selecting the acquirer, navigating the challenges of bringing the transaction to a successful conclusion, and ultimately finding a great new home for the business. We appreciate their hard work and wise insights.” About Chertoff Capital Chertoff Capital is the investment banking subsidiary of The Chertoff Group, a specialized advisory firm that helps organizations achieve their business and security objectives in a complex risk environment. As an industry leading investment bank serving high growth, mission-focused companies in the defense technology, government services and cybersecurity markets, Chertoff Capital provides clients with a highly differentiated advisory offering that brings together transaction expertise and unparalleled business strategy insights. Chertoff Capital professionals have advised on well over 100 transactions over the last 20 years. Chertoff Capital is an SEC registered broker dealer and a member of FINRA. About Cyberspace Solutions Cyberspace Solutions, LLC, is a leading provider of all-source intelligence, gathering, analysis, and systems development solutions for Intelligence Community, Defense, and Law Enforcement customers. CSS customizes solutions and provide actionable intelligence for targeting and other vital mission priorities. About Crimson Phoenix Crimson Phoenix is a leading digital, data, and intelligence analysis and solutions platform designed to support the critical mission requirements of the U.S. Intelligence Community and U.S. Special Operations Command. Headquartered in the DC/Virginia area, Crimson Phoenix offers a differentiated suite of mission-critical capabilities and solutions in artificial intelligence & machine learning, cybersecurity, digital and data enablement, software development, and intelligence targeting and analysis. About Godspeed Capital Management Godspeed Capital is a lower middle-market defense & government services, solutions, and technology focused private equity firm investing alongside forward-thinking management teams that seek an experienced and innovative investment partner with unique sector expertise, operational insight, and flexible capital for growth. While a typical investment will involve companies generating approximately $3 million to $30 million of EBITDA, Godspeed Capital has significant support to complete larger transactions through strategic co-invest relationships. The firm focuses on control buyouts, buy-and-builds, corporate carve-outs, and special situations.

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Government Business

Kratos & Rancher Gov Solutions Partner for Easy Deployment of Virtual Ground Systems with OpenSpace

GlobeNewswire | January 05, 2024

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., a technology company in Defense, National Security and Global Markets and Rancher Government Solutions (RGS), the leading provider of enterprise Kubernetes management solutions to the U.S. Government, announced today a strategic partnership to enable customers to seamlessly deploy and scale virtual ground systems using Kratos’ software-based OpenSpace® Platform. With increasingly complex and dynamic satcom and Earth Observation missions, satellite operators and government agencies are transitioning from fixed and proprietary hardware to flexible and scalable generic compute-based cloud environments. This enables a virtualized and software-defined ground system like Kratos OpenSpace Platform to more cost effectively and securely support multiple missions simultaneously, deliver services faster and streamline operations. Today, customers leverage a range of computing environments from bare metal, virtual machines to the cloud, making the deployment of software-based ground systems more complex and time consuming. Working together, Kratos and Rancher Government Solutions have enhanced the ability of the OpenSpace Platform, the first commercially available, fully virtualized and software-defined satellite ground system to be deployed more easily across customer environments. “With Rancher, the OpenSpace Platform deploys its virtual functions including modems, channelizers, combiners, and more, as Kubernetes-based containerized software applications that act as independent and portable computing environments that can run and scale on any infrastructure,” said Brandon Gulla, Chief Technology Officer at RGS. “We are proud to be working with Kratos to support this truly transformational platform that will free satellite operators from proprietary hardware architectures and move to software-defined, flexible and extensible virtual platforms.” By the nature of it being software-defined and containerized, the OpenSpace Platform is already much faster, and more flexible to deploy than traditional hardware-based satellite ground systems. As customer demands grow, the software-based OpenSpace Platform can reconfigure on the fly and deploy new services automatically and cost effectively in minutes. Software containers can be spun up and down and scaled on demand elastically using a single management interface from the Rancher Platform. “Rancher serves as the Kubernetes management technology that supports the OpenSpace Platform’s ability to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of our containerized workloads,” said Anthony Semiao, Chief Solutions Architect of the OpenSpace Platform. “The combined technologies support hybrid and multi-cloud environments enabling OpenSpace customers to run in the data center and cloud environment of their choice such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft and to easily switch from one cloud provider to another.” About Kratos OpenSpace Kratos’ OpenSpace family of solutions enables the digital transformation of satellite ground systems to become a more dynamic and powerful part of the space network. OpenSpace® is the industry’s only commercially available digital transformation solution that enables operators of satellites, Ground Systems-as-a-Service (GSaaS) providers, teleports and others in the satellite services supply chain to capitalize on dynamic ground capabilities. The OpenSpace family consists of three product lines: OpenSpace SpectralNet for converting satellite RF signals to be used in digital environments; OpenSpace quantum products, which are virtual versions of traditional hardware components; and the OpenSpace Platform, the first commercially available, fully orchestrated, software-defined ground system. These three OpenSpace lines enable satellite operators and other service providers to implement digital operations at their own pace and in ways that meet their unique mission goals and business models. About Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. is a technology, products, system and software company addressing the defense, national security, and commercial markets. Kratos makes true internally funded research, development, capital and other investments, to rapidly develop, produce and field solutions that address our customers’ mission critical needs and requirements. At Kratos, affordability is a technology, and we utilize proven, leading edge approaches and technology, not unproven bleeding edge approaches or technology, with Kratos’ approach reducing cost, schedule and risk, and enabling us to be first to market with cost effective solutions. Kratos is known as the innovative disruptive change agent in the industry, a company that is an expert in designing products and systems up front for successful rapid, large quantity, low cost future manufacturing and as a competitive differentiator to our large traditional prime system integrator partners and also to our government and commercial customers. Kratos’ primary business areas include, virtualized ground systems for satellites and space vehicles including software for command & control (C2) and telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C), jet powered unmanned aerial drone systems, hypersonic vehicles and rocket systems, propulsion systems for drones, missiles, loitering munitions, supersonic systems, space craft and launch systems, C5ISR and microwave electronic products for missile, radar, missile defense, space, satellite, counter UAS, directed energy, communication and other systems, and virtual & augmented reality training systems for the warfighter. About Ranger Rancher Government Solutions (RGS) is specifically designed to address the unique security and operational needs of the U.S. Government and military as it relates to application modernization, containers, and Kubernetes. Rancher is a complete open source software stack for teams adopting containers. It addresses the operational and security challenges of managing multiple Kubernetes clusters at scale, while providing DevOps teams with integrated tools for running containerized workloads. RGS supports all Rancher products with U.S. based American citizens who are currently supporting programs across the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and civilian agencies.

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Government Finance

Springbrook Software Announces Record Number of Customers Moving to New Cirrus SaaS Based Government Financial ERP Platform in 2023

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

Springbrook, the country's leading developer of cloud-based government software, closed 2023 with a record number of 68 municipalities selecting Cirrus, the company's flagship financial ERP. Cirrus is a fully integrated, Multi-Tenant, SaasS based platform designed from the ground up specifically for local government agencies. "Cirrus reflects what our customers need and have asked for. We address growing concerns with ransomware attacks by offering the highest level of cybersecurity available. We provide citizens and the next generation of personnel with a seamless, modern, interactive experience. And we know from the pandemic that a changing workforce needs anytime, anywhere browser-based access. Our growth reflects the trend of moving away from home brewed or dated technologies to solutions that are designed for today's challenges," says Robert Bonavito, CEO of Springbrook Software. Springbrook's Cirrus provides a full suite of integrated solutions including finance, payroll, utility billing, advanced budgeting, and human resources. Springbrook also offers the most advanced payment solution available, through Xpress Bill Pay, as well as Tableau, the number one visual analytics tool in use by government agencies. 2023 also marked the roll out of several new technologies including an AI driven ChatBot, Allocation Billing for water utilities with tiered billing structures, and efficient online and mobile Payroll Time Clocks and Time Sheets. About Springbrook Software: Springbrook Software is the country's leading cloud-based finance and administration software provider designing solutions specifically for small to medium sized local government agencies. Nearly 2800 cities, towns and districts from coast to coast use our suite of modern, high-performance solutions to manage their finances, payroll, utility billing and collect citizen payments. Springbrook is headquartered in Portland, Oregon with regional presence in over 40 states, and seven countries internationally.

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