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TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
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TudoBem Offline
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Lightbulb TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
As I have previously mentioned on this forum, I am moving abroad to Brazil, likely around May or June. While I am financially secure, I thought it would be interesting to start a web based translation service, create another income stream, and ideally spend no more than 10 or 15 hours a week on it, as more than that would be an energy drain rather than a boost.

So, I thought it would be fun and useful for me to chronicle my attempt to make this work, as I have no previous experience in internet commerce or web building.

I will share all information as openly as possible in order to make this experience useful to others who have their own entrepreneurial idea.

So, I took the first step today, and sent out a form letter (with modifications for the name and location and an odd personal detail or two thrown in) to several dozen of my personal/business contacts.

Here it is:

XXXXXX, how have you been doing? Things ok in Brazil? I hope you are enjoying your birthday. Congrats again on your continued success with Mandalah, it takes some creativity and determination to make a company like that work.

There is something I wanted to talk to you about. A couple months ago, I started doing some specialty Spanish translation work for a mining company I used to work for in Peru. I also did a couple of legal translation jobs for a firm out west. Since it has gone well, and I had to refuse a couple of assignments because I was too busy, I have begun to consider expanding, investing in a web site (if I do this, I would like to know the name of your webdesigner, as I think your site is excellent), and hiring some Peruvian and Brazilian contacts to do overflow jobs (I am thinking of focusing on just Spanish and Portuguese, as I can actually review/translate to maintain quality, and it would enable me to focus on the Latin American market as a whole).

That said, before I go further down this road, I am just doing some informal research to better understand the market out there.

Would you be willing to answer a few questions about your organization and its use of English-Spanish/English-Portuguese translation services if any? Perhaps even if you never use such services, you might have an idea about a organization or company that does. I will keep any information strictly confidential.

Ok, here it goes:

How often do you have need of English-Spanish/English-Portuguese translation services?

Is this done in house or by an outside contractor?

What rate per page or word do you currently pay?

Is there a central process for translation, or does each employee or work group handle it on an ad hoc basis?

At what level does the authority to authorize a translation expenditure lie?

I really appreciate any help you can give me with this, as it will help me to better understand how to make this work optimally.

Let’s stay in touch and catch up some time soon when our paths next cross. I am thinking of moving to Brazil in May or June.

Have a great day.

Best,

TudoBem
02-27-2012 12:40 PM
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TudoBem Offline
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RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
Here are a couple of initial responses I have received, I can also share my replies if anyone is interested.

1.

Bro, i'm not the best person to answer this but I would like to put you in touch with an Argentinean dude called Martin, who handles all our Portuguese-Spanish translation. Portuguese-English I do myself, with my sister's assistance (in London).

See below.

Peace!
XX

How often do you have need of English-Spanish/English-Portuguese translation services? NEVER. It's always the other way around.

Is this done in house or by an outside contractor? BOTH.

What rate per page or word do you currently pay? NO CLUE.

Is there a central process for translation, or does each employee or work group handle it on an ad hoc basis? AD HOC.

At what level does the authority to authorize a translation expenditure lie? We're a small company so not much bureaucracy here.

2.

My girlfriend and I got tired of Chicago so we relocated to northern
kentucky (greater cincinnati area). we like it a lot and I started
doing some consulting for a local company. it's too small to do any
kind of research but I can tell you how things worked at Motorola,
which did both spanish and portuguese studies (latam being a hot area
these days)

Almost all of the market research was outsourced through major firms
(TNS, GfK). Whether or not they had in house translators I'm not sure,
but my guess is most of the first pass translations were outsourced
again and then just checked over. there frankly wasn't a lot of
quality control or consistency that I could see. each project worked
in its own way. sometimes an ad hoc translation would be done by
someone in motorola who spoke spanish. with all the belt-tightening
going on it wouldn't surprise me if going forward companies started
just dumping things into an auto-translator like google or something
similar. for basic text it gets the gist most of the time. as for
authority the research manager just gets a whole study approved with
translation included.

since you would be offering high quality translations in need of more
care I really don't know what the cost would be, but you could
certainly charge a premium, especially for anything legal. Jon Lange
did some freelance Arabic translation work, you could ask him about
going rates.

not sure if that helps. I wasn't involved in the specifics of
budgeting/approval.


3.

FMI = Fondo Monetario Internacional = IMF = International Monetary Fund

Hola XXXXX como estas!
Where in the world are you? yo sigo en el FMI
RE tus preguntas..I don't know if where I work applies.. we have our in house translation team in the external relations department which handles translations to all the imaginable languages... A lot of things are done ad-hoc by the authors ..but when a large volume of stuff has to be translated AND publish it, we do it with our in house team.
02-27-2012 03:20 PM
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Vacancier Permanent Offline
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RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
Very very nice Tudo Bem! Please keep us updated as this not only is very interesting as an idea but also, this is something I'd like to get involved with in the near future with. Where in Brasil are you going to move?

Boa sorte rapaiz!
02-27-2012 10:47 PM
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TudoBem Offline
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RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
(02-27-2012 10:47 PM)Vacancier Permanent Wrote:  Very very nice Tudo Bem! Please keep us updated as this not only is very interesting as an idea but also, this is something I'd like to get involved with in the near future with. Where in Brasil are you going to move?

Boa sorte rapaiz!

Thanks. I am going to post some more responses, and what I wrote back as well.

I have not yet decided where in Brazil.

My general desire is to find a relaxed place where I can focus on fitness and learning how to surf, as well as eating healthy, while also perfecting my Portuguese and sampling the local snatch.

I have been thinking Florianopolis, or somewhere on that island, but since I intend to go in May or June, it might be too cold there. I will probably start a separate thread soon about planning that move and where I might go.
02-28-2012 10:23 AM
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TudoBem Offline
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RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
New Response:

Hey XXXX,

Move went well, got us an apartment, got myself a new wetsuit and a car, looks like I'll probably have a job offer in the next few weeks, so all's pretty good considering the economy.

This is an intriguing idea. I don't know anything about the translation industry but it seems to be very fragmented and one-off. Our startup has never used any translation services so I can't answer your questions. But I think the idea of focusing on very high value clients such as multinational mining companies and legal firms is a great strategy. I'm just spitballing here but I'd start by finding out what services people currently use, how much those outfits charge and how they handle workflow i.e. is it all in-house, contract work, native speakers, checked by software, etc? There are a lot of online freelance marketplaces for stuff (e-lance, e.g.) but my suspicion is that you'd make a lot of money by guaranteeing excellent work, which means it can't be shopped to a new person every time.

By the way if you've never used it, SurveyMonkey is a great free online tool for doing this kind of polling/survey stuff. Then hit up every lawyer/corporate friend you have, right?

The only contact I know who might have something to share on this is a friend from Chicago who worked at TrialGrafix, which does legal support of all types. He might know what the typical law firm contract looks like. Happy to put you in touch.
02-28-2012 10:30 AM
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TudoBem Offline
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Post: #6
RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
New Reply:

Hey XXXX,

How are you? Thats a really cool idea. In fact, i am actually thinking of getting involved in that but on the Russian-Portuguese side. I think thare is a lot of demand with the whole BRIC thing picking up.

In terms of your questions tough, i cant really help since i work at Deloitte and have no idea how they do their translations. I think its internally done, so dont have any of that data you are looking for.

Are you aactually gonna open a company or just do this on a side?

Sorry cant be of much help.




My response to her:


My intention is absolutely to open a company, but run in a different way. I recently read the Four Hour Work Week, reread a biography of Andrew Carnegie, and have been talking with several friends who are young entrepreneurs. I intend to have a good website as a means of establishing credibility, and then to use a variety of marketing techniques to bring in work. Ideally, most or all of the actual translation work would be done by other people, either ones I hire via freelancing sites or personal contacts I would trust for specialty or niche translation jobs. I would then in effect being acting as a middleman who could control quality and provide convenience. The translation market is very fragmented from what I have seen. Even at Motorola, one of my friends there in marketing for latin america says that their research groups outsource translations on an ad hoc basis. I picture the average project leader in a company doing business in Latin America...he/she gets a budget approved for an entire study/project including miscellaneous expenses like translation, and that person has neither the time nor the inclination to mess around on a freelancer site, so typically by word of mouth or some other way, that person outsources the translation job for rates exceeding 20 cents a word or more, whereas I could get the job done for 4-8 cents a word easily.
I think the opportunity is there.

Anyhow, how is Brazil and Deloitte? Weren't you doing health related work?

ate logo,

TudoBem
02-28-2012 10:32 AM
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TudoBem Offline
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RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
Here is another good reply:

Hey there!
Things are great here! Just moved in with my boyfriend a few weeks ago
so that has been a major change!! Still getting organized in the new
place but its coming along.

This sounds like an exciting business venture! My sister-in-law works
for Nickelodeon doing the Brazilian translation for Neo-Pets so I can
put you in touch with her if that would be helpful? I'm not sure if I
will be much help with your market research but I'm happy to answer!


How often do you have need of Spanish/Portuguese translation services?
Very rarely

Is this done in house or by an outside contractor?
In house

What rate per page or word do you currently pay?
The service is free

Is there a central process for translation, or does each employee or
work group handle it on an ad hoc basis?
Both. The hospital has translators that are available to us as needed,
they usually require scheduling about 1 week in advance because they
are shared with all groups within the hospital. If we need a document
translated there is a form to fill out that we send to the translator
services along with the document and they will translate the form
within a week. (This is a bit more complicated with research b/c we
also have to make sure that the patient or parent understands the
study completely so we are also assessing competence which can be
difficult through an interpreter.)


At what level does the authority to authorize a translation expenditure lie?
Translation services are at no cost to any employee so anyone can
authorize a translation.

Hope this helps!

-XXXX
02-28-2012 10:38 AM
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GiovanniRio Offline
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Post: #8
RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
Problem with Portuguese to especially English translations in Brazil, is that their are a load of US/UK estrangeiros who moved to Brazil and work as a) English teacher b) translator and most of the time, both Smile . As they compete with each other, as well as with existing companies, prices are pretty low. Not mentioning yet the persuasion & especially creativity of a Brazilian company owner when it comes to prices & paying.

You best bet would be working together with the US trade offices in Brazil, befriend their people, so as soon a new company is interested in establishing some kind of trade relationship with Brazil, they'll advise you as a translator. Other option is to participate in the "A small world" or "Internations" events, and get in touch with other expats (many are CEO,...)

This all being said, I don't intend to break your idea down. I believe everything is possible if you have the right mindset & willingness to go for it.

PS. Maybe it would be good looking into a cooperation with someone who speaks Portuguese/Spanish => Chinese/German/Dutch/French/Arabic/...
02-28-2012 10:51 AM
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TudoBem Offline
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RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
(02-28-2012 10:51 AM)GiovanniRio Wrote:  Problem with Portuguese to especially English translations in Brazil, is that their are a load of US/UK estrangeiros who moved to Brazil and work as a) English teacher b) translator and most of the time, both Smile . As they compete with each other, as well as with existing companies, prices are pretty low. Not mentioning yet the persuasion & especially creativity of a Brazilian company owner when it comes to prices & paying.

You best bet would be working together with the US trade offices in Brazil, befriend their people, so as soon a new company is interested in establishing some kind of trade relationship with Brazil, they'll advise you as a translator. Other option is to participate in the "A small world" or "Internations" events, and get in touch with other expats (many are CEO,...)

This all being said, I don't intend to break your idea down. I believe everything is possible if you have the right mindset & willingness to go for it.

PS. Maybe it would be good looking into a cooperation with someone who speaks Portuguese/Spanish => Chinese/German/Dutch/French/Arabic/...



I respectfully disagree.

The second and third tier cities of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, etc, are filled with mid level well educated professionals who are underemployed or unemployed.
These people will work for much less than some foreigner trying to live the American level lifestyle he is accostumed to in Brazil.
Some can be found on E-lance, but I believe I can do better than that.
I personally know people in Arequipa, Peru. There was a Portuguese language school there with several native Brazilian instructors who all were university educated and spoke and wrote in English/Portuguese/Spanish, and were getting paid crap, like 600-1000 soles a month. These people would happily translate anything for a few pennies a word. They don't even know what E-lance is and they operate on the local economy.
I am confident that I can undercut anyone on price while still maintaining a healthy profit margin.
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2012 10:58 AM by TudoBem.)
02-28-2012 10:57 AM
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GiovanniRio Offline
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Post: #10
RE: TudoBem's Translation Business Creation Thread
(02-28-2012 10:57 AM)TudoBem Wrote:  
(02-28-2012 10:51 AM)GiovanniRio Wrote:  Problem with Portuguese to especially English translations in Brazil, is that their are a load of US/UK estrangeiros who moved to Brazil and work as a) English teacher b) translator and most of the time, both Smile . As they compete with each other, as well as with existing companies, prices are pretty low. Not mentioning yet the persuasion & especially creativity of a Brazilian company owner when it comes to prices & paying.

You best bet would be working together with the US trade offices in Brazil, befriend their people, so as soon a new company is interested in establishing some kind of trade relationship with Brazil, they'll advise you as a translator. Other option is to participate in the "A small world" or "Internations" events, and get in touch with other expats (many are CEO,...)

This all being said, I don't intend to break your idea down. I believe everything is possible if you have the right mindset & willingness to go for it.

PS. Maybe it would be good looking into a cooperation with someone who speaks Portuguese/Spanish => Chinese/German/Dutch/French/Arabic/...



I respectfully disagree.

The second and third tier cities of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, etc, are filled with mid level well educated professionals who are underemployed or unemployed.
These people will work for much less than some foreigner trying to live the American level lifestyle he is accostumed to in Brazil.
Some can be found on E-lance, but I believe I can do better than that.
I personally know people in Arequipa, Peru. There was a Portuguese language school there with several native Brazilian instructors who all were university educated and spoke and wrote in English/Portuguese/Spanish, and were getting paid crap, like 600-1000 soles a month. These people would happily translate anything for a few pennies a word. They don't even know what E-lance is and they operate on the local economy.
I am confident that I can undercut anyone on price while still maintaining a healthy profit margin.

Without wanting to go into a yes/no discussion... if you are Brazilian & speak fluent English, sure you'll be able to find a job which pays more then a translator job. Its way harder (for most almost impossible) for a foreigner to find a job in Brazil. Most of them still want to stay in the country though, and end up working at a joke income. Know lots of them...

Peru is a total different story.
03-02-2012 10:13 AM
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