From Startups

Startups: To Localize or Not to Localize?

Wells Fargo’s recent International Business Indicator Survey indicated that 69 percent of businesses in the U.S. are conducting business internationally and 54 percent of mid-size U.S. businesses see international markets as increasingly important to their financial success. But where does that leave startups and early-stage companies?

Setting the startup stage

We can all appreciate the startup mentality: having a scrappy, can-do attitude that fuels the desire to create something special, something that fulfills a universal need. And while many startups dream about the possibility of international markets, going global probably isn’t a priority on a startup’s list of to-do’s. Why, you might ask? While optimism, agility, and ingenuity are abundant in almost any startup you walk into, most have an unproven business model and limited resources in regards to time, money, and support.

Why startups should keep localization in mind

Now that we’ve set the startup stage, we can also recognize that we live in a new digital age. The barriers that once held companies back from going global – like the inability to communicate beyond our own borders or slow shipping processes – have been eliminated thanks to technological advances. What this means for your startup is that it’s easier than ever to adopt a global mentality from inception, and doing so allows you to minimize hardships once you’re ready to take your business to international customers and users.

And you’re probably already global

Many startups, especially those in the tech industry, are international from the outset, whether they want to be or not. Launching an app in the app store or selling a product or service on a website gives international customers the opportunity to connect with your startup and purchase your product or service. With time, you’ll naturally gain global customers who may be willing to make a purchase even though your digital content isn’t localized for them. However, as you grow and mature, these early adopters will likely become your brand enthusiasts, and you’ll not only want to support them by providing content in their native language, but you’ll want to reach out to their peers. These customers already identified a need for your product or service in their area; all you have to do is deliver it in a language that speaks to them.

There’s so much opportunity abroad

Dave Goldberg, the late CEO of SurveyMonkey, shared in a 2013 interview that “if you have a product and you aren’t focused on international, you’re missing out on two-thirds of your potential customers.” Now, more than ever, this statement rings true as e-commerce is a growing market in the United Kingdom, China, France, and Germany, just to name a few. Customers are becoming more accepting of making payments and purchasing online, and concepts like free or fast delivery make this channel of buying even more appealing. As the e-commerce market shows great potential, a survey conducted by Common Sense Advisory reports that more than half of consumers are willing to pay more if you’re willing to give them information in their own languages. Armed with this information, it’s easy to see why startups should keep localization in mind.

Investors appreciate a long-term plan

There’s a basic list of requirements that investors consider when looking at potential startups, ranging from uniqueness of your product and your business expertise to the size your target market and number of competitors in the space. Aside from these line items, investors are also looking for projects with growth opportunities, ones that are scalable on a regional and global level. Including localization as a step in your roadmap shows that you’re planning for the long-term and that you recognize your international opportunities.

3 things that will help you down the road

What we’re trying to get at can be said simply — whether or not you launch as a global startup is irrelevant. You might not be ready to localize today, but the potential of foreign markets is only going to get bigger. Adopt a global mentality now so when you and your product are ready, you’ll be in a good position to reach new markets. Other things you can do now:

  1. Internationalize your software. Always be prepared is a motto that is often heard and rarely followed. Making sure your software can support international character sets (Unicode), allows for text expansion, and has user-visible text and images separate from executable code, are just a few of the steps needed to internationalize your software and ultimately be prepared for global markets. Internationalizing your software from day one ensures you don’t have to go back through your code (a time consuming process) and make changes (a developer-involved and costly process).
  2. Strive for simple, relevant branding and messaging. Startups that have an amazing product often rise up in a competitive landscape as they provide a simple solution to a common problem. Not always, but in most cases, it’s the product that does the selling thanks to a beautiful design and UX, and ease-of-use. The step that’s skipped is branding, messaging, and marketing. Startups that key in on their branding and messaging, thinking of a universal theme that can be shared across borders, are better able to translate and localize in later stages. You don’t want to choose a key message now and pivot later when you realize you want to go global. Keeping language simple can reduce the complexity of translations and their associated costs in the future.
  3. Think about localization in phases. Budget is often a localization blocker for startups, but localization doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, a one-and-done transaction. Think about localization in phases and plan for what you can afford today and what you can afford in the future. For instance, some companies may use in-house translators or machine translations in the early localization stages, and plan to have native reviewers revise the content for mistakes when budget is more flexible. Companies can also prioritize content by what’s most important to their users. Some companies start with localizing their help desk, then expand to their marketing website, or documentation. Planning to roll out the localization process slowly can be a big budget saver for startups with limited financial resources.

Democratizing localization

In an effort to create a dialog about localization among startups and other entrepreneurs around the world, Transifex has created a flexible and scalable localization platform that enables companies of all sizes – and with all budgets – to expand to new markets. Whether you’ve been thinking localization from day one, or you’re maturing to the point where going global is the clear next step, we’re here to help. See how Transifex works in a personalized demo or visit our website at www.transifex.com for more information about our API and Git-like command-line client, powerful integrations, and so much more.

How to Get Your Boss to Invest in Localization

Taking a website, mobile app, or game to a global audience is a no-brainer for some companies, meaning the business plan is strategically designed to support localization. Yet, for a majority of companies, the need to localize a product for a global audience is identified by a developer or marketer who sees opportunity or demand in a foreign market. When this is the case, it’s up to that individual to become an advocate for localization; to get the right level of buy-in, support, and executive sponsorship.

Knowing that every successful salesperson has a great pitch, we wanted to share some tips for how you can get your boss to make the critical, long-term investment in localization.

Create a detailed plan

We’re all familiar with the saying “the devil is in the detail,” and this rings true when trying to persuade someone to adopt your thought process. When pitching to your boss, it’s important to really think through what you’re asking for. What’s the benefit for the overall organization? How many resources is executing your plan going to take? Who is responsible for the work and how much will it cost? Then, there’s the all important question, what is the organization’s return on investment? Going into a meeting ready to share the answers to these questions will help show your boss the value of what you’re proposing.

Identify a painpoint

Lower risk

You may be passionate about the need for localization, and you may even have data to support your desire to expand into new global markets. Despite this, there’s still risk involved for your boss. To overcome this hurdle, think about structuring your proposal in stages so you can modify or even eliminate certains stages if things don’t go as planned. You’re giving your boss the ability to keep his or her options open, ultimately limiting the overall risk involved.

Be completely transparent

You’re spending company dollars, so you need to be transparent with what you do. Share the pros and cons of your proposed project and identify key performance metrics that need to be met throughout the process. These metrics should also be paired with plans of action, detailing what happens when proposed numbers aren’t met. Sharing this in a thoughtful and organized way shows that you’re building accountability and also helps to enhance the level of trust that we mentioned above.

Ask for a trial, not a lifetime commitment

When you invest in localization, you’re investing in a long-term project, which may make your proposal unattractive. Eliminate potential resistance by asking for a trial. Perhaps you can test localization in a specific market before tackling multiple markets at once. Show your boss that he or she isn’t locked into a complicated, costly, and time consuming project.

Get the timing right

There’s a time and place for everything. If your company recently had layoffs or is struggling financially, now might not be the time to propose a new localization project. Same goes for the end of the quarter when everyone is scrambling to meet company-wide performance goals. Ask yourself if your boss is caught up in other matters. Will he or she be able to devote time to your project?

As we head into the end of the fiscal year for many companies, now may the perfect opportunity to bring up the topic of localization with your boss. For many organizations, the new year offers a fresh start, and acts as a time to look for new opportunities that will help improve engagement, sales, and profit moving forward. A lot of departments also determine their yearly budget in the new year, so proposing your localization idea now can ensure there’s enough funding to carry out your localization plan effectively.

At the end of the day…

…Make it easy for your boss to say yes. Having a localized, global-ready product can be powerful in growing an organization in terms of size, increasing leads and conversions, and making a positive impact on the bottom line, but it all starts with getting your boss on board!

Were you a localization evangelist at your organization? Perhaps you’re a localization manager that was challenged with the task of getting your boss to prioritize localization investments? Whatever the case, share your stories with us in the comment section. And if you’re interested in a solution that will localize your product in an efficient, scalable, and affordable way, request a demo with a Transifex team member and see the power of the Transifex localization automation platform.

Startup Solutions:
How to Build a Website that Wins Your Customers

You’ve probably heard the adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but you also know we all make snap decisions when we meet people, walk into a restaurant, or pick up that proverbial book. Websites are no exception to the rule. One click is all it takes to lose a potential customer forever. You know it’s important to build a website that your customers will love and and continue visiting, but as an entrepreneur watching every penny carefully, how can you make sure your website will measure up?

Outlined below are five proven strategies that can promote a user-friendly experience for your customers.

Focus on the Customer’s First Stop

The home page of your website is often your first point of contact with a prospect or returning customer, so make sure to invite him into the rest of your site. Chances are, if the customer enjoys the content or messaging on this page, he’ll continue to browse other pages on your website. Clear, engaging, and lead generating websites often include:

  • A clear presentation of what your company represents
  • Your company’s logo to establish your brand identity
  • Previews of engaging content that will interest your target audience
  • Easy navigation to other pages on the site
  • A call to action

Keep Design and Navigation Simple

Your website conveys your brand, identity, and product or service offerings, so you want to display as much information as possible, right? Not always. Too much text and visuals can clutter a page and make it difficult for customers to easily locate and find what they’re looking for. And with access to competitors just a click away, smart website design becomes a critical piece of the customer acquisition and retention equation. Some of the best websites are simple in design, but have detailed elements that make them super intuitive and engaging such as:

  • Large and responsive hero images welcoming the customer
  • Parallax scrolling for an interactive way to browse through menu options
  • Hidden or hamburger menus to increase conversion rate
  • Card design to provide users with options for content

Be Ready to Cross Language and Cultural Barriers

The Internet has made it possible for businesses to reach potential customers all over the world. These customers will best relate to your website when you communicate with them through their native language and culture. Also known as localization, the process of making your website and other digital material accessible in multiple languages, has the potential to grow your business and help you compete on a global level.

When reaching customers from different countries, it’s important to be able to successfully communicate the same message to them – make it easy for customers to come to your site and find their preferred language. Eliminate the hassle for customers, and cache their language preference for future visits. Website localization companies can also help you reach a variety of people who speak different languages by providing a platform that helps to automate the translation process. Within a localization platform, webmasters can collect content to be translated, translate within the program, and push out multilingual content to reach a new segment of customers.

Recognize New Platform Trends

The way people access the internet is constantly changing. In fact, the number of people accessing the web on mobile devices now exceeds the number who access the web using a desktop computer.

As search trends change and customers want to view your website from whatever device they’re using, your website must adjust on the fly. Making sure your website is created using responsive design will ensure it loads properly on multiple screen sizes ranging from smartphones to tablets to desktops. Your website layout and functionality should also be tested for consistency across major web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. By addressing this multi-device, multiple browser trend, your website will provide customers with an enhanced user experience.

Keep Everything Up-To-Date

Contrary to popular belief, work doesn’t end after you’ve setup and localized your website. Customers want fresh content, so if the information on your website is outdated, there’s a good chance you’ll lose some business. Content changes can include anything from featured weekly promotions on the home page to new blog content — all of which are engaging and of interest to your customer. Frequent updates to your website are also helpful for search engine optimization (SEO). Publishing relevant content on a regular basis can help your website rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs), meaning customers will be able to find your website easily if they type your company name into a search engine like Google or Bing.

Keeping the above tips in mind can help you make the right first impression, making sure you have the best chance of winning customers, no matter what language they speak or where they live.

Startup Solutions: Keeping Your Remote Team Connected

An increasing number of companies have remote teams with employees working from all over the world. Here at Transifex, we work out of two offices – one in Menlo Park, California and one in Athens, Greece – so we know what it’s like to manage teams across different time zones. We’ve found that while large corporations may have the infrastructure to manage a remote or global workforce, small businesses and startups can be left struggling to handle this new work paradigm. Because we’ve been there ourselves, we wanted to share a few tips for how to keep your remote team connected.

1. Start with the Basics: Onboarding

Remote teams have a different dynamic than teams that gather under one roof. They must overcome different time zones, cultural practices, and sometimes, language barriers. Achieving connectivity among these types of companies almost always begins with onboarding.

Onboarding is becoming a frequently used term among startups and SMBs to describe the process in which new hires acquire the right set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors to become successful contributors and team members. For teams scattered across the globe, this process is extremely important in making new hires feel comfortable with the remote workforce set up, defining his or her responsibilities, and setting expectations for upcoming projects and campaigns.

Create the Perfect Onboarding Process

Culture (another startup buzzword) dictates that the onboarding process is fun and easy for the new employee. Along with making sure any new hire has a desk, computer, and email account set up, here are a few ways to create a fun, yet meaningful onboarding process:

  • Send a Welcome Message – It can be intimidating for a new hire to reach out to each individual team member, especially knowing that communication with some will mostly be via email, video conferencing, or over-the-phone. Sending a welcome message to the entire team that introduces the new member is a great way to open lines of communication and make him or her feel welcomed.
  • Make First Impressions Easy – At Transifex, we want to make first impressions between new hires and employees easy. Each member receives a welcome note signed by our team and we try to gather everyone to go to lunch to get to know one another in a casual environment. Small gestures go a long way in making new members feel apart of the team from their first day.
  • Schedule One-on-One Meetings – While you’ve probably given your new hire a list of resources and documents to read before his or her first day, scheduling one-on-one meetings with team members (both local and remote) can ensure they understand the projects they’ll be working on so they can hit the ground running. You may also invite your new hire to sit in on meetings held by other departments. For instance, a new marketing hire may find it beneficial to sit in on a sales meeting to better understand the product roadmap, buying cycle, and overall sales goals.
  • Create a Timeline – Setting a few early milestones can give new team members a better idea of their role and responsibilities within the company. Map out a timeline for new hires for the upcoming weeks or quarter. Encouraging new members to ask questions about their timeline can ensure they seamlessly integrate into the team and are able to connect with the individuals who will help them achieve success.

2. Set and Track Goals for Teams and Individuals

Setting and tracking goals remains a high priority for companies with remote teams. All companies with a global workforce should have a plan with measurable objectives for all teams, and individual team members should also have clearly defined performance goals. Department heads will likely be charged with tracking this performance and reporting it to the CEO or COO. This way adjustments can be made when things aren’t going as planned, and praise can be given when timelines and goals are met.

Helpful Task Management Programs

Once goals are set, communicated, and understood, spreadsheets can be used to track success, but it may be more efficient and less of an IT strain to use a task management subscription system like:

  • Basecamp – The basecamp platform is easy to use and allows for the creation of various projects. Each team member can schedule projects, make comments, and add checklists which can be assigned to a person who will ensure the task’s completion. Not only does basecamp offer real-time updates for global employees, it is a great tracking tool that can be referenced to determine the success or failure of a campaign.
  • Asana – With Asana, conversations and tasks are in one place, taking the dependency off of email and making it so that all tasks are actionable and transparent. Team members can communicate with one another on an easy-to-use platform that can be viewed on a desktop, mobile device, or tablet. Asana also integrates with other tools such as Dropbox, Slack, Google Drive, Github, WordPress, and more for total efficiency.
  • Jira – Created by Atlassian, Jira is often regarded as the number one solution for agile teams. Heavily used by engineers, Jira allows members of global software teams to plan and track work while moving toward the next release. It is a great way for global teams to set timelines, milestones, and report on updates and other relevant information.
  • Salesforce – Recognized by many as the leader in customer relationship management (CRM) tools, Salesforce is a great tool for sales and marketing teams that are spread across different continents. It allows employees to access everything from customer data to analytics, all in one convenient place.

3. Make Communication Easy

It’s easy for employees to blame distance for inefficiencies such as missing project due dates, so take preventative measures and establish open lines of communication. Here at Transifex, we try to make all members accessible as much as possible. We use instant messaging tools like Slack and texting apps like Viber to talk with team members in other countries without incurring additional fees. Google Drive and Dropbox also allow for easy access to documents without increasing server capacity, and can be a great way for employees to collaborate and provide feedback on specific documents and projects from different locations.

Communicate Through Face-to-Face Meetings

For the utmost in personal connectivity with your remote team, face-to-face meetings are still best. Subtle information can be lost in emails and text messages, and being able to see your employees’ faces and them yours is an important aspect of communication that sometimes gets overlooked with all of today’s technology.

You can use Skype, Google Hangouts, or a video conferencing platform like Join.ME for this. If you have a subscription to a remote interview platform, there’s no reason you can’t use that to video conference with employees either, especially if you can use delayed-time video to converse across widespread time zones that make real-time live talk difficult.

4. Schedule Regular Team Check-Ins

Even though you may be tracking project tasks or sales metrics online, don’t neglect to schedule regular check-ins with your team. A weekly phone call or daily email allows employees opportunities to ask questions, helps prioritize their workload, and gives them an opportunity to connect with other team members on a personal level.

To help keep our remote teams organized, we have regular check-ins ranging from weekly stand-up chats to monthly all-hands meetings. Weekly stand-up or sync-up meetings are often brief check-ins where each team member states where they are with their individual tasks, keeping everyone in the loop and allowing for other members to assist when necessary. Our all-hands meeting takes place between our Menlo Park and Athens offices and is usually conducted through a video conferencing platform so we can put a face to the name of new members. This is also a time for teams to share what they are working on, discuss new product launches, and speak about any concerns in regards to current systems or workflows. And gathering such a large group together, we’re always bound to share a few laughs, too.

Prioritize a Yearly Conference or Gathering

In a perfect world, it’s great to meet in person with your entire team at least once per year. This can be in the form of a meeting, convention, or company retreat, ideally combining business with a bit of fun, so people who don’t have the chance to socialize the way they would in a traditional office setting can get to know each other better. Last year, our California and Athens team met up in Rome for a conference that was both fun and educational.

Have Policies for Other Expectations

Be sure to set policies for any other work-related communication expectations too such as:

  • Work hours
  • Sick days, vacations and dealing with things like last-minute emergencies
  • Response times for customer and coworker correspondence
  • BYOD (bring your own device) rules for employees using their own computers, tablets or mobile phones to transmit work data

The global workforce is the wave of the future. If your startup or small enterprise takes the time to consider connectivity issues up front, you can all but eliminate communication problems and focus on growing your business. Have other tips on how to keep a remote team connected? Be sure to share them below!

An Entrepreneur’s Guide for Finding Awesome Mentors

Successful businessmen like Steve Jobs have been notoriously open about the inspiration they derive from powerful historical figures and personal mentors; and it’s common for CEOs and other professionals to meet with advisers for guidance. Any entrepreneur understands the importance of looking to other successful individuals to supplement their own knowledge – to help them see opportunities they may miss on their own – and to overpower their negative thoughts and self doubt with positive thinking.

So whether you just quit your day job to aggressively pursue a startup or you’ve hit a roadblock with an established business, you will also benefit from having at least one good mentor. As a startup ourselves, Transifex knows the importance of learning from other success stories, and shares the following guide for how to identify awesome mentors, and most importantly, how to approach them with class.

Identifying Potential Mentors

While anyone who’s found success in his or her industry can inspire you to work harder, you should select your mentors with great care. One strong mentor is often better than a stable of mediocre mentors. You’ll know you’ve found the perfect match when you come across someone who is:

  • Further along the entrepreneurial track. It’s great to connect with those at your own level or with less experience, but the best mentors have a proven track record from which you can learn and grow. That’s why you’re looking for a mentor in the first place, right?
  • Just as interested in mentoring as you. Mentorship, even if it’s just an in-person meeting once a month, is valuable. However, if you can find a mentor willing to communicate with you more frequently, they can become a sounding board for which you can test new ideas, kill negative thinking, and brainstorm creative solutions to problems. Their willingness and enthusiasm to help is a great motivator for you as well.
  • Not personally invested in your business. All entrepreneurs and business owners get too close to their own problems and struggle to see their brand as it is perceived by customers and competitors. The best mentors aren’t personally invested, and can give you an outside view, delivering valuable insight that you can’t obtain on your own.

Creating a List of Inspirational (and Realistic) Prospects

Start your list by identifying successful people you know in real life who may have mentor potential.  Expand your list by connecting with new people. Attend networking events and start participating in online professional groups. Join local clubs, boards, and organizations dedicated to business-minded individuals and entrepreneurs. Attend seminars and conferences where you may meet others interested in growing their businesses. When someone catches your interest, add them to the list and try to get to know them better.

So, that all sounds great. But how do you find the events that are right for you? Here are a couple great places that can help you find speaking engagements, events, and seminars to attend:

  • Meetup.com – Quickly growing in popularity among professionals, meetup.com is a great resource to connect with like-minded and successful individuals in a wide variety of industries. The company describes itself as, “neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something…” and has a large group of active users which means endless networking potential. Another great feature of meetup.com is the ability to create your own meetup, which can be tailored to your specific networking and business goals.
  • Lanyrd.com – Lanyrd.com is a website devoted to professional events, serving as a directory of the top events by state and city, while also offering a library of information including what’s going on at each scheduled event as well as presented slides, video, and podcasts so you have access to information from any conference you attend. And we’re not the only ones who like Lanyard. The company was acquired by one of the largest ticketing and events platforms, Eventbrite, with the goal of providing customers around the globe with the opportunity to network face-to-face, while enhancing the quality of professional events for speakers, attendees, and companies.

For an even more comprehensive list, add well-known businessmen and women, and even celebrities that you find inspiring. You might never have the opportunity to sit down with them personally, but you can attend their professional conferences, read their books, and follow them on social media to form an indirect mentorship. We also love listening to podcasts created specifically for entrepreneurs, which can give listeners unique insight into the backgrounds of successful individuals in a wide range of industries.

Approaching Potential Mentors

Asking a professional to serve as your mentor is a bit like asking the most popular girl in high school to the prom. You know many other entrepreneurs would enjoy working with this person and you know they have a schedule just as packed as yours. You want to convey your genuine interest, but you don’t want to sound needy or make them feel guilty if they aren’t interested. Don’t complicate the situation and select the most natural form of communication for your current relationship. If it’s someone you don’t see in your daily life, you may send them an email message. If you have their phone number and have spoken with them over the phone before, a call may work best. If this is someone you know personally, invite them out to dinner or meet them for coffee.

When speaking to a potential mentor, put all of the following information on the table right from the start so that your potential mentor can determine their level of interest:

  • The reason you have selected them as a potential mentor.
  • The communication channels you are willing to utilize. Do you prefer to meet in person or are you open to Skype, phone conversations, and/or text messaging?
  • How frequently you would like to meet.

You’re more likely to get a yes from someone already familiar with you on some level, so look for opportunities to interact with potential mentors prior to approaching them with your request. You may end up with one golden mentor or a stable of professional friends. But you’ll never know until you step beyond your comfort zone.

Startups: How to Localize on a Budget

“Reaching 90% of the online audience worldwide requires localization into more than 25 languages,” according to a statement made by TechCrunch earlier this year. The need for localization – whether it be the localization of your website or app – is clear, yet many startups don’t have the budget available for a large localization project. What if we told you localization could be achieved in a cost-efficient way?

Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Before we get into the all important, money-saving localization tips, it’s important to have a general idea of the costs of localization and your startup’s current localization status.

Step 1: Determine the Scope of Your Localization Project

As with any type of expansion, a clear plan needs to be created to achieve success, and when you have limited funding, a major part of the planning process will be setting your budget. Keep in mind that localization is an investment, and though there may be an upfront cost today, in the long-term, localization will drive revenue, increase conversions, and enhance user experience.

So, how do you determine the scope of your localization project? First, you’ll need to calculate the number of words in your project for translation. This could include all the words on your website, all the words within your mobile app, or a combination of both. Then, you’ll need to multiply the number of words by the number of languages you want to translate into. Let’s use an example:

  • Your project is in English and has 40,000 words
  • You want to translate into 5 languages
  • Your total amount of content is 40,000 x 5 = 200,000

The calculated 200,000 words may vary further depending on text type, percentage of repeated text, file format, and engineering efforts involved, to name a few. 200,000 words of content is an estimate, but gives you an idea of how big or small your project is, which can give you insight as to overall cost. In our experience, startups typically fall into the following ranges when localizing:

  • Mobile – 1,000 words x 8 languages = 8,000
  • General Website – 5,000 words x 4-6 languages = 20,000-30,000 words
  • Content Heavy Website – 10,000-20,000 words x 6-8 languages = 60,000-160,000 words

Step 2: Find Out If Your Software is Internationalized

If you are prepping for localization, you will also need to make sure your software is internationalized. Internationalization refers to the way software code is written, meaning the process actually began when your developers were building your website or mobile app. Products that are internationalized properly can be translated and viewed in other languages without causing problems to layout, design, and overall functionality.

Unfortunately, not all websites and apps are internationalized from the start, and backtracking to internationalize a product can take a lot of time and delay your localization efforts. Why? Developers must take your project, identify all translatable text and code – everything from the content that is viewed by your users to error messages and text on images – and extract this massive amount of content into individual string files. These files will then be replaced with files that allow for localization. While you probably don’t want to get technical with localization, you can see that the process is time consuming for your developers…and we all know time is money. If your software isn’t internationalized, your budget will without a doubt increase.

The all important, money saving localization tips

Now, we’re ready to dive into 4 smart ways to decrease your localization budget.

1. Think Global Early

The common misconception among startups, especially those with limited budgets, is that localization shouldn’t be a topic of conversation until further down the line. But as we mentioned above, setting a solid foundation with software that is internationalized will make it easy to go global into whatever languages you wish in the future. Also, to avoid slowing down the localization process down the road, don’t hard-code strings into your app and instead, use the localizable.strings technique.

2. Prioritize Your Content

Another easy way to save money during the localization process is to translate less. Now, we don’t mean only translating 50% of your website (that has potential for a linguistic Frankenstein feeling), but prioritizing the content you wish to translate. For example, you may have a website and an app, but feel that your core product is your website. In stage one of localization, budget for website translation, and come back to app translation in stage two. You’ll save up-front costs, while becoming more familiar with the localization process. When you do embark on stage two, you can avoid mistakes that you may have made the first time around.

3. Maximize Available Translation Resources

Translation is a key component in localization, and many startups assume this will be the most expensive part of the process. But hold on, that doesn’t have to be the case! When it comes to translation, there are a couple options available:

  1. Professional Translation – The most expensive option, but you will have assurance that you will get high quality translations from trusted and experienced translators.
  2. Use Your Connections – A less expensive, more creative option that leverages your personal and business network to translate your content.

Professional translation is pretty straightforward, so let’s expand on how to use your connections to translate content.The best way to explain it is to walk you through an example. Bazaart, an Israeli company, did not have a budget set aside for app localization, but they were still able to localize their content, eventually growing from 0 to 500,000 downloads. Bazaart took advantage of their connections, asking help from relatives in Brazil and Argentina to do their Spanish and Portuguese translations. This helped the app grow in global popularity, and new app downloads provided the funds needed to hire a professional translation service to localize their app into German, Italian, and French.

What many startups fail to realize is they have access to resources that can reduce overall localization costs. Whether it’s leveraging relatives, your company’s user community, or in-house employees, there are affordable ways to localize your content.

4. Identify Translation Tools

In addition to translators, you can use translation tools such as Translation Memory (TM), a database of previously translated phrases that is available to your network of translators. This tool is ideal for businesses that frequently use similar words or phrases throughout their products, helping to increase translation speed and therefore translation volume without the need to increase the overall budget. Consistency of translated strings is another benefit, allowing you to rest assured knowing that your most commonly used phrases have been translated correctly.

5. Make Things Easier for Yourself

As a startup, your time is a commodity. You are trying to get your product, site, or company launched and you’re likely being pulled in 10 directions at once. If you plan on sleeping, why not make things easier for yourself.  Investing in a localization platform can save you something extremely valuable: time.

Localization platforms like Transifex create a user-friendly interface that make it easy for businesses and their developers to communicate with translators to localize websites and mobile apps. Transifex gives your business the freedom to choose how you would like to translate your strings, choosing from crowdsourcing, the in-program translation agency, or you can even add a translation agency of your choice. And as Transifex offers new features like the WordPress translate plugin, businesses can enjoy a seamless translation process which equates to significant savings in engineering time and budget.

Want to Know More About Localization?

Localization is a key concept for business growth that goes beyond a one-time translation and should be viewed as an investment that can grow alongside your business needs. And the best part? With the right tools, support, and a little ingenuity, localization is achievable on any budget. Check out the Localization Benchmark Survey for more information about the localization and translation process.

The 4 Components of Successful Software Companies

This is the final post in a series from our COO about the role localization plays in the success of a company, especially that of a startup. The first post explores the 5 elements affecting the state of the software industry. The second post covers 4 Customer Expectations Shaping the Future of Software.


What does a successful software company look like in this newly matured (highly mobile, mostly virtual and absolutely global) marketplace? We observe 4 common traits in all of the frontrunners.

Design is central to their IP

Intellectual property (IP) has fallen victim to a phenomenon called semantic stretch. Over time it has been used to reference an ever broadening range of things. Originally, IP was used in reference to only the hidden elements of software. The architecture and mechanisms that make it work. Today IP means much more than that. The scope of a company’s brand extends beyond the widget’s they built to cover the highly subjective world of design choices and style.1

It is hard to get good design, and even harder to protect it, but design has become an equally important component of your company’s IP arsenal.2 Software companies must treat now value design on an equal footing with content and product development.

Analytics are also part of the IP

Also included in the IP of a successful software company is the data collection and analysis mechanisms included in your software. Users, especially enterprise clients are expecting measurables in real-time to inform decision making at every level. These things are no longer a tack-on or an after thought, analytics has become a core competency of a successful software company.

They respect the 8th layer

Think way back to your first college course that covered Open Systems Interconnection (OSI). We’re going way back, but think hard. You were probably exposed to a chart called the OSI model… it had seven layers… ringing any bells?

If you learned anything tech related in college, it probably grew from this model of understanding how systems interact with one another. The OSI model is the technology bible. Your software probably lives at the zenith of this model, at the 7th layer. Since you were in school, a new 8th layer has emerged. The 8th layer is a feedback loop most notably known as the social network.

Successful companies engineer themselves with respect to this, the new 8th layer on the OSI stack. They are highly responsive to the community’s opinion of their products reflected in posts on an ever changing list of social networks.

They operate globally

image

Successful software companies think their native language is too small for their ambitions, and they are launching their product into a global marketplace. 72.4 percent of customers are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.3 Whatever you make, you should be making it in every language.

This raises an interesting question.

How can a global company remain agile?

Translation is not a one-and-done affair. With every update or new feature there is new content that demands to be translated. And with respect to the 8th layer, content like blog posts, white papers, lifecycle/marketing emails and the like will also require localization treatment.

How, then, in the flurry of competing priorities, does a software company extend its reach around the world, while remaining agile, responsive to customer expectations, and changing market conditions?

Enter Continuous Localization.

The idea of continuous localization is to integrate your localization platform with your Continuous Integration (CI) tool, such as Jenkins or Bamboo, so that as soon as new strings are committed, they are pushed to the localization platform and translators can begin translating. When the strings are translated and reviewed, they can be pulled and committed to the code repository, ready for deployment.

The end result is a process that does not become a hassle for developers, but helps them work smarter and launch products to new markets faster.

To learn more about continuous localization, read our whitepaper, Localization for Agile Teams.

Why Join the Navy When You Can be a Pirate?

Startup Pirates logo
We’re excited to announce a partnership with Startup Pirates and support budding entrepreneurs and startups from around the world seven seas.

Started in 2011, Startup Pirates is a week-long accelerator program run multiple times a year in different countries, from Brazil to Portugal and Poland to India. Participants attend training workshops, get mentored, and refine their ideas. At the end of the week, they pitch their ideas to investors and business leaders.

Startup Pirates

Together with Startup Pirates, we want to help these entrepreneurs conquer the world and make their product available from shore to shore. After all, young companies can be global companies and localization is the key to make that happen.

If Startup Pirate sounds like your cup of tea (cup o’ rum?), check out their website to see if there’s a program coming near you.

 

P.S. If you’re interested in partnering with us, check out our partners page and shoot us a message.

P.P.S. The post title is a quote from Steve Jobs. He was definitely a pirate. 🙂

Customer Expectations Shaping the Future of Software

Note: This is the second post in a series about the role localization plays in the success of a company, especially that of a startup. The first post was about the 5 elements affecting the state of the software industry.


Advancements in software design and deployment strategy have shaped customer’s expectations about what quality software ought to be like.1 Expectations are so high, many argue that there is a whole range of software products that will not be developed because they cannot be made profitable. The less-depressing counter-point is that high customer expectations demand thoughtfulness from designers and excellence from developers — both good things.2 While we can blame these expectations on Google and Apple, they are the market reality. Ignore them at your own peril.

User-centric design

Software must be easy for everyone to use, not just tech-savvy power users. If a 13 year old cannot easily navigate through your software while simultaneously surfing Facebook, watching YouTube and texting, it’s too complicated. Successful software in the 2010’s is easy to use. Period.

Promotion

Customers assume they already know the best apps, and if they don’t, those should be found on the front page of Google or your app store of choice. The coveted #1 pagerank is more than a vanity prize. To most customers, any software outside ranked outside of Google’s page #1 is effectively invisible. The fate of many startups today is not decided by the quality of their product, but by the wisdom of their keyword selection.

App Store

Instant Availability

Your customers demand to hear about, try for the first time, and understand your software immediately. A “coming soon” message takes a lot of trust capital that most young software companies just do not have. As a fun test, find someone in your target market, send them to your company homepage and clock how long it takes them to try and hopefully buy your product. Faster isn’t better, it’s expected.

Universal Availability

The cloud is here to stay. Your customers are going to be annoyed if you ask them to download/install/update. Those things should happen automatically, invisibly, and your software should jump to a new device as seamlessly as your customers can. If a customer question begins with, “can I use this on…” your answer should always be, “yes.”

In our final post, we will look at the 4 Components of a Successful Software Company.

State of the Software Industry

Note: This is the first post in a series about the role localization plays in the success of a company, especially that of a startup.


This is an exciting time to work in software development. All of the raw materials needed to build a successful product are universally accessible. Anyone with the skills and initiative to build great software can launch a company, but entrepreneurship is still risky business.

75% of startups fail.1 Some cite numbers even higher numbers in tech hotbeds like Silicon Valley, but the risk is balanced by an enormous upside. Many young companies are reaching profitability very quickly with extremely lean “shoe-string” startups leading the pack.2 Some have suggested that a fast failure is better than a slow success because it allows the core concepts to be tinkered with and improved upon and relaunched. Like the mythical phoenix, several ravenously successful software companies have been risen up from the ashes of failure.

But software has matured beyond the win big / lose big economy of traditional startups:

Mobile Apps

Especially in the mobile space, developers are creating great products for niche markets in their spare time and generating supplemental income instead of risking it all on a singular idea.3 Once seen viewed as anomalous, the mobile software development industry is here to stay.

Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI Research, made the statement, ”We’re no longer talking only about a short-term gold rush. Apps have become a major digital industry.”4

Many apps remain free to consumers while generating tremendous revenue for the developers through ad sales. Mobile ads exploded in 2012. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers reported a 14% gain in online advertising revenue in the first have of 2012 to $17 billion.5 Mobile ad revenue now accounts for 7% of total online revenue, up from just 4% in 2011.6

Video Games

Until recently, the video game industry was growing parallel to the stuffier software categories. Computer based games, generating a respectable half-a-billion dollars in revenue each year, have been dwarfed by their console bound counterparts which posted 10 times that amount in each of the last five years.7

Mobile games are causing the same industry disruption that we have seen across the board. Roughly half of the paid apps in both Google Play and Apple’s App store market are games, accounting for 720 million dollars per year in combined. Though, half of that is spoken for by the elite tier of developers.8

SaaS

Before it was a buzzword, cloud computing was a major advancement in software deployment methodology, and it will remain an industry mainstay long after the luster has faded. Cloud computing has opened a world of possibilities, not the least of which is a total reinvention of software delivery. Software as a Service (SaaS) is the very powerful idea behind the world’s 60 fastest growing companies. That’s right. Numbers 1 – 60 on the list of fastest growing companies in the world, according to a CIOZone study, are all software companies, utterly dependant on cloud computing because they use a SaaS business model.9

Crowdsourcing

Though it is not a new idea, crowdsourcing is still a powerful force in the software market. The greatest triumph of crowdsourcing, Wikipedia, is old enough now to start showing laugh lines, yet what began as a quirk of the software industry has now spread beyond the borders of tech. According to Mashable, the biggest upcoming crowdsourcing projects are not in the least bit technical.10 Bottom line: though it has mostly exited its software industry nest, crowdsourcing is very much alive and well.

Global Spread

Though all of these large numbers might be impressive, the real growth in software is happening globally.

Here are a few examples that might startle you:

  • The global SaaS market is forecast to grow by more than 15% in the next year.11
  • The United States accounted for a paltry 34% of the global revenue from iPhone apps.12
  • The Arab gaming market is expected to triple in the next 36 months.13
  • The largest employer in the world is the Chinese crowdsourcing agency, Zhubajie, which boasts a workforce 7.6 million strong.14

Consider LinkedIn, which heads the Forbes list of 25 Fastest Growing Tech Companies.15 Founded in 2006, LinkedIn is a relatively young company only available in 2 languages, English and Spanish, for much of its history. The site now displays content and offers customer services in 19 different languages and counting.16

The story is much the same for the other 24 companies on the Forbes list.

Coincidence?
We don’t believe in coincidence.

Bottomline, there is a lot of money to be made in a software industry that has become highly mobile, mostly virtual, and absolutely global.

In our next post, we will explore the 4 Customer Expectations that Are Shaping the Future of Software.