July 21, 2024

Growing a Translation Business with Olivera Rosulnik - memoQ talks #13

Published May 14, 2023, 9:20 p.m. by Bethany

As a translation business grows, so does the need for software that can help manage the increasing workload. One such software is memoq, which is designed to help streamline the translation process and make it more efficient. In this article, we will take a look at how memoq can help grow a translation business, as well as some of the features that make it an essential tool for any translator.

One of the main benefits of using memoq is that it can help to speed up the translation process. This is because the software includes a number of features that help to automate the translation process, such as translation memory and machine translation. These features can help to save time on repeated tasks, as well as ensuring that translations are of a high quality. In addition, memoq also includes a number of tools that help to manage the translation process, such as project management and workflow management. This can help to ensure that projects are completed on time and to budget.

Another benefit of using memoq is that it can help to improve the quality of translations. This is because the software includes a number of quality assurance features, such as spell check and grammar check. These features can help to ensure that translations are free from errors and are of a high standard. In addition, memoq also includes a number of tools that help to review translations, such as translation memory and machine translation. These features can help to ensure that translations are of a high quality and meet the needs of the client.

Overall, using memoq can help to grow a translation business by helping to speed up the translation process and improve the quality of translations. The software includes a number of features that help to automate the translation process, as well as a number of tools that help to review translations. In addition, memoq also includes a number of project management and workflow management features. This can help to ensure that projects are completed on time and to budget.

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welcome to memo q talks where we talk to

industry leaders about their experiences

lessons learned and what works best

across all areas of localization

now here's your host

good morning everyone and welcome to the

new episode of memocute talks i'm chad

amir pujitsa and today i'm going to talk

to oliver russellnick of gore

about growing a translation business

it is always a thrill to me to look at

the beginnings and see how things

started it's like looking at the

universe through a telescope and trying

to understand the birth of stars

this is why i think oliveira's story and

that of her agency gore

g-o-r-r is a good example

they are a six-people international team

based in slovenia and starting to expand

which captures that first moment of

trying to grow into a bigger and more

relevant player

we look into the ideas behind the humble

beginnings solidifying the structures

and the big plans welcome oliveira

hi tedder thank you for for having me

and thank you for such a great intro i

don't get a lot of those

i'm happy you like it so now before we

start can you tell me something about

yourself and your company i mean we did

talk before this uh but for our

listeners i think it's worth mentioning

uh thank you thank you for that well uh

just in brief i'm born and raised in

serbia and then

i got the opportunity to study in the

czech republic so i spent five years


uh and uh this this was really a great a

great lifetime experience i i

got to learn the language

uh meet the the czech people the czech

culture but also many people from around

the world

um so this this was really amazing

experience and then i met my husband and


i moved to slovenia so i'm this is where

i'm currently based and where the

company is


so like like many of of people from the

industry uh we both got into into this


more or less by chance

uh so when i moved to to slovenia i knew

no language i had no contacts really um

and and i still had to had to pay my

bills basically uh and the only tangible

work experience i had was translating

some some articles from for my uh

faculty department in the czech republic


uh i i ho i held my hands on this

experience and then started sending cvs

to the local slovenian agencies

uh and in about two days i got the first

offer which was really exciting and and

i thought it was the great one from

today's perspective i know it wasn't but

uh then i was thrilled um and gregor my

husband on the other side he had a good

job well-paid job uh but he always

wanted to have his own business

uh so after i had this first

experience uh

we looked at each other and said is this

something that we could actually do

so it really started like that we we

registered the company

gore which is actually these are our

initials the grrr

uh bought a laptop and uh just uh

you know started uh creating the pool of

first clients and and


uh we didn't start from the garage but

it was um

a closed balcony

that was our first office uh so as you

said the starts were were really simple

basic humble

uh i mean i i hope i think that we

stayed humble uh until today that we

still are but when i look back um

it it was something it was uh i'm not

sure from from you know today's

perspective if i would be brave and

courageous uh

as we both were at the time

so that's that's uh how uh gorb was born

actually what's your your husband's

background uh he he uh he was most of

his uh

life he was in sales he studied

economics but but he was

in sales uh um i studied sociology and

international relations so uh none of us


from the from translation industry or


uh which is why this was an extra

challenge for us so we needed to start

really from the scratch

and to be entirely honest as i mentioned

and start we we gregor did have this

business drive having his own a business

but maybe at the beginning as

maybe a lot of people think when they

start a business

is about you know it's the financial

part uh you know

getting rich having you know and having

your business and uh everything that

comes with that

but soon after we realized

that this industry has so many layers

and it has a lot to bring to you so many

great people so great many great

uh stories so without sounding uh

too cheesy uh we really fell in love in

the industry uh and then maybe the first

financial motive that was out there

uh just disappeared we got entirely

different motivation and drive

and now that you said that you're both


industry which is not related closely to

translation to languages although you

knew languages and that that's like

do you think that it was more of an

advantage or a disadvantage looking from

this point in time looking back

uh that's that's really a good question

uh because now when when

it's not only the two of us in the team

it really depends at what level of the

business you observe uh at uh sometimes

it can be a burden if you are a

translator or linguist by education

uh you know

and it's a good it's a it's a good

characteristic but they're really too

picky and you know they look really at


and uh sometimes you do not need this

burden you have to decide quick and uh

act quickly

so in in some parts in terms of

being burdened and also in terms of

being burdened uh that there's a lot of

competition out there we started in

slovenia and slovenia is a really small

market with many players small players

larger players

so if we looked at that i think we

wouldn't go this way

but we really


we didn't see anything as a challenge


maybe now from from today's perspective

i would say oh my god we had to deal

with this and that

but then we we we just went with the

flow um especially gregor i think he was

the one that was more involved uh

because he was the one that had to get

the first clients uh

so my answer is yes and no it depends uh

which part of business you're observing

yeah that's that's really excellent

that's what i was actually trying to get

from you because sometimes as you


people get too much into the profession

not to look into the entire environment

and uh yeah so this really did answer my


now when you started the agency

what was the first thing you were trying

to do what were your priorities and what

were the big challenges


as i mentioned we we opened the business

in slovenia which is a 2 million people

country so it's a really small market

and with a lot of players in it


basically the first and only priority

was of course to survive it's it's as

simple as that

um but i i have to say that from the

very start

we had eyes on on a big future so we

definitely from the very start we wanted

to become relevant

and uh to to build our name uh so uh the

priority was definitely to get those

first clients and to build


the the the basic pool of vendors which

you can uh

whom you can totally rely on


so that's um

more or less what was uh the task one of

course later on we have to solidify

uh create first workflows and of course

since we were totally newbies to the


we had to learn a lot

we had to learn basically on the go and

implement this on the go without

creating um any frictions

in the business without stopping any any


and as for the challenges um

as i mentioned uh we didn't

identify anything as a challenge i'm

sure we had a lot of those

uh but we were so thrilled and driven

that nothing was too hard for us

uh maybe one of the challenge i i would


maybe uh emphasize and might be useful

for some of your listeners that will

start business

uh we were a couple we were partners in

in in private life and then partners in


uh so soon we realized that we

definitely had to split all our rules in

in the company


so even uh

we i'm more on the vendor and production

side and gregory is more on in sales

finances and and running business in

general uh so we had to put these

complementary characteristics together

at the same time and split them

so this is maybe

one of the important challenges but i'm

happy uh that we managed to solve that

pretty fast


why is that important what was the

challenge if you did not split it what

did you envisage as a possible problem

uh i mean uh there were there there are

frictions you know uh when when you have

an opinion and and it's different and uh

especially if if that department is not


what you know uh for example finances um

that's that's not my thing and vice


uh gregory is not that involved with

vendors so uh

if if you do not split the the rules and

everyone uh gets into everyone's

business in in it can be

a total mess there there there would be

a lot of frictions which a business

doesn't need plus um

everyone is good at something and not

good at different things and i think


th this complementarity of of of um

features that every person has uh should

be split at the same time so you stay in

in your division and i think then then

business runs more smoothly than if

everyone does everything

at least at the management level

very good point and

now i i want to ask you when you started


and your first clients you were looking

at the first clients did you have any

strategy or um like who were you even

targeting and wasn't gregor's job or was

that something you came up together who

to go after

uh basically we we started

in slovenia so

our target were slovenian companies

uh and

gregor already had some

some sales sales experience in some

contexts and of course we were targeting

uh bigger companies in in

slovenia and uh

one of the challenges okay now we're

back to the challenge uh was um


the the right context within the company

so basically

it could be

someone at the reception it could be

the purchasing department it could be

marketing department

uh it it was all around so um

that that's where we started and uh

then uh

we sort of started extending to uh lsps

from abroad

which is

when we realized that there is so much

content and so many projects out there

and then from there so we were basically

single language provider

moving to regional

and then

what changed the most in that direction

was uh lock world in barcelona 2016

when uh gregor decided to go with a

booth so we we had a booth there

so you can imagine all the big names and

uh gore among them

uh so we definitely drew some attention

if nothing else

met some great people and of course

got some great opportunities which

brought us to

uh working globally and and actually

moving to to multilingual language


that's excellent story and a really good

advice to anyone trying to grow their

business i think is go to conferences

set up a booth it's an investment it's

not a cost it's it's it's uh i have to

say it's definitely an investment but

i remember it it was costly you know we

were uh at our start and it was costly

but it it definitely was was worth in in

all terms

now i want to uh go to your part of the

responsibilities the vendors when you

started out uh you said you were a

single language uh provider and

that was i i believe slovenia right and

yes what were the other languages that

you were targeting and

and how many translators external


other linguists

did you rely on in this initial phase

so as you said we started with with



normal even today it's

in combination with

english german



but soon after we started adding other

we say balkan languages like croatian

serbia bosnian etc


so we

our pool at start was was uh

rather modest we

we we knew that we have to rely on good

good people so i truly do not remember

how many people we had at the beginning

but it was certainly a small and

reliable group

but then

business and content and clients got

more complex requiring

uh different profiles uh as a vendor

manager i always insist you know

except for

a language peer the the translator needs

to match in terms of


uh so

you know we were adding new content and

then this required um

basically new people so this um

our base of of uh

translators was getting bigger and


uh but even today uh i think uh that you

know we have i don't know to 200 to 300


but normally on a monthly basis there is

some core of people that that you work

the most



it it really it really depends


now moving into the growth phase uh when

did you realize that it was time to grow

time for a change and how did you

approach growth


set this goal uh really early that we

will become relevant

important player at least in the region

uh so everything was uh directed

that way

as i mentioned we had to learn a lot we

had to invest in technology

invest not only invest but implement it

implemented the way

not to disturb the ongoing



we had to choose you know which

technology and which uh solutions we we

can implement which solutions fit our


uh and which at the end of the day we we

can afford


so that's that's uh the the basic

element that that's on even today uh

it's a never-ending story uh but

as i mentioned earlier we were moving

from from the slovenian market to the

external market and then uh started

working uh globally uh so growth was um

always the part of the plan and and it

it came sort of organically it didn't

uh you know causes any confusion we just

had to knew that we have to

solidify uh create sophisticated

workflows that would have to fit

particular clients


we knew that more than ever we have to

rely on on good people on the other side

uh translators and of course in-house

team we have to had to

build the in-house team to to bring

people with

with the knowledge


and um yeah that that that was more or


how it how it seemed

so that was my next question so you

practically answered it

i was about to ask you what changed but

since the growth came organically

you were practically just solidifying

the structures and you answered that

with the workflows

you were working a lot on that so

i don't think we should add anything to

that but i mean

i could i could just add one thing that

definitely what changed uh in the past

years is that everything became more

complex and it's not necessarily a good


but yeah everything became more complex

the the workflows the the clients uh


so that's certainly um what's changed

and definitely what's changed at least

in our mindset that

we we were not aware of this from the

very start

uh the role we actually have in in the

supply chain

you know we were you know it's not only

about providing translations you know uh

words in another language but you

realize what these pieces of of paper

let's call it that way uh

actually mean to the client what what it

means to the client to have a web page

in an extra language and

uh what it means for a client to

uh be able to bid uh outside

its borders

uh so we realized that our role was uh

re actually pretty important uh not

necessarily acknowledged but that's uh

another topic we can talk for hours

about that so that that's uh something

in our mindset that definitely uh

changed in the way

okay and when you say complex


maybe more demanding was it because you

were choosing different types of clients

moving into a certain




things becoming complex

on their own

uh it's uh it's sort of both ways um

we realized that

i mean quality was always our top

priority and and we realized that

from where we started and where we want

to reach we we definitely have to build

on that so uh

we simply had to have more complex

workflows both

uh in terms of particular tax tasks both

in terms of technology

we got uh tms we got uh memo queue so

and everything else uh on the other side

yeah yeah um

so uh and on the other side the clients

were also getting

more both more demanding and more more


we are also working with uh

other larger lsps and uh

you know you know how it looks you know



uh workflows uh

sheets reports etc



in in that sense yes and uh even for the

clients we

we we observe that

the content is getting more important

the the deadlines are shorter


so you know what you have to do in the

in the sort of in the background without

compromising the quality

looking back

is there anything that you would have

done differently

i'm sure

i mean i have one thing on my mind but i

cannot disclose that yet it's pretty



i i cannot really think uh anything big

and without um

without uh i mean this may sound as a

cliche but uh


you live and learn it sounds like a

cliche but it's true

uh so i think that uh

you could have done differently

almost everything on a daily basis but

uh i think what's important from from

there is to to learn on mistakes i know

it sounds dumb but it's so true uh so if

you get into the similar or or same

situation in the future what can be done


so i i don't have anything

specific for you unfortunately uh so you

get this general political answer only

yeah that's what actually it sounds so

simple and it is so simple but it's not

easy to do

and this is something i don't know if

you heard about the big uh

wealth investor ray dalio he's been

sharing his visions and his learnings

from his own failures and and he

mentioned that one of the most important

things in life is to always reflect on

the failures what brought them and then

move on and not make the same mistakes

again so it's kind of

relevant and applicable to anything in

life and in business so i will take that

and okay now we will talk maybe in

private about those

real uh

nice examples when we see each other

during this year's memocue fest yeah for

sure for sure

that would be cool so now i want to i

want to talk about the services that you

provide can you tell us something about


so uh for for many years

written translations were our core

uh so basically that's we were what we

were mainly doing uh then in the past

years we

we uh we started working


empty post editing


and uh that's that's basically more or

less our core uh we were also providing

uh interpreting on site interpreting



what we see in the in the past year is

it's what's new in this direction that

once we with the pandemic and everything


the rise of of uh remote interpreting

uh this

became a pretty nice piece of a pie for


so uh

you know with remote interpreting the

entire global market basically opened to


so we could virtually

provide interpreting anywhere on the


uh so we got some new accounts


we extended the existing accounts adding

this service


and it's and it's really exciting

because we can work basically with any


at the any part of the world and being

part of some

really great great stories which we


wouldn't be if if it was on site uh so

this is this is something new and

something that is getting more and more

interesting for for clients and that we

were really

happy to adopt

and now

let's before i move on to the next

question i want to ask you about this

machine translation post editing how is

that going because there is a lot of

uh you know different feelings

when we speak about it leaders linguists

like anyone not many people uh have

positive thoughts when it comes to that

but i believe that clients

uh and certain types of clients really

appreciate it what kind of clients are

these what are the requirements what

type of um

let's say content


renders itself best



what is like the best


what would you suggest to a big company

because i believe that's the big company

is doing this

to go into machine translation post


what are the games what are the



i think it was a couple of years ago

that was really this uh we got this wave

of empty post editing and and that was


almost the only thing we we discussed in

the industry


so even in-house we had different

feelings about that i have to i have to

say that not about

uh machine translation as such as how to

implement this

so we took it really step by step uh but

i think from today's perspective

we we

tend to filter what can fit for this

service and what is not and both what we

do internally

and both for what we do for external

clients when they already provide us

with their empty post editing


unlike maybe years ago when you know

when you're given uh

the service you have to do empty post

editing although the the output is not


uh we are getting


um requests in in terms of

let's check if

empty makes sense here let's check the

empty uh output

uh so i think we are moving forward

to to really filtering uh not only in

terms of content but also in terms of

language where this empty

went more or less


uh what was our challenge is definitely

the realization


really good translators are not


uh good post editors

although i i have to i mean post editors

in terms of the one that does post

editing because i i saw some posts

somewhere the translator said we are not

post editors so i take that back

um so we really realized that that

um post editors i mean translators who

did post editing um sometimes the the

output the result was not good that they

delivered something that they would have

never delivered if they did it from


so we realized that

there can be a trap that you're

satisfied too fast with with what empty

has to offer

so uh that's

when we internally sort of

filtered people okay they are capable of

doing that there and these ones are not

and uh until today um

we just have particular contents and

particular clients where we said okay

empty is not a good choice here so i

think we are um

more smart about it nowadays which was

not i mean i think i mean everyone was

going crazy about this empty

and uh


some years after

that's highest wave uh i think we are

everyone more both more pragmatic and

worse more smart about it for sure

and what kind of content is good


machine translation post editing uh

from our own experience

life science

can be can be a good fit

technical repetitive things

can be a good fit

anything that is too specific and too

sensitive too important

we rather

we wouldn't recommend empty

marketing of course when you need this


touch and

more transcreation it's definitely not a

good fit


so basically technical and life science



a good to go to to post editing

and what about languages


for languages uh

you know the major the biggest languages


proved to be to have a

better output so i guess the machines in

the background are

having more content to learn from


we we got some romanian

under our hands and we were not happy

with the results

uh so it's i i i would go with with this

that major languages definitely have

good better outputs although we are

sometimes even slovenians it's a really

small language or creation

sometimes we are really surprised i

think that these outputs are getting

better and better

uh and it's scary at the same time

and it's and it's not because

you know uh

serious clients uh will always

want people to go through that

we have some clients that are uh okay



raw empty or light post editing you know

just to have a clue what's going on

but they normally risk this that they

sort of want a a person to go through

that so um then then

then it's a relief you know we are not

going to be replaced


now you're striding with confidence into

the future

what you envisage will be the major

challenges for you as a company and

generally in the global translation and

localization environment



that's that's something that's

that's been in the past and i think that

unfortunately it will stay there


as i already touched the topic before uh

too often we are observed as a cost


you know we are in this uh supply chain

often at the end of the supply chain

with really really short deadlines

and simply observed as a cons the cost

center without you know clients

necessarily realizing the the actual

role we have

what this translation actually uh

means to them to their business

uh but that's something that we realized

it's it's uh the pain of even much

bigger players than we are

um so we sort of have to uh you know

live with that and and try to


i don't like the word educating clients


but you know just to to

explain them a bit get get closer to to

this realization uh

what what our

our service actually means to them

um another another thing which i already

mentioned it's there's a lot of content

content there uh and consequently

deadlines are getting really short

uh and we were we have to work it at a

faster and faster and faster pace

uh and of course with the same quality


most likely the same prices um


that's uh yeah that's that's how it is

uh and uh

the the automation

uh it's definitely here to stay uh and

uh that's that's not necessarily a bad


but uh as everyone well else we are


about the tool it might have on human



so too much automation is is definitely

something that at least in our company

we will tend to to avoid

uh you know to to

if not pick up the phone and call

the person on the other side at least to

write a personalized one-to-one email


and hopefully now uh meet meeting person

so i think here and there we have to

poke ourselves you know and and reach

actually reach to the other person

um that's that's something that we

should have on our minds all the time

coming from a sociologist i think this

is really good advice

oh thank you so much

and you said that

you had to learn a lot

in the early stages and you continually

learn because that's a necessity of life

today and how do you learn personally

and how do you learn as a team


um here it comes another cliche but it's




at least me personally i i really

learned from from the daily tasks

this there is practically every day that

something comes to my table uh that i'm

not necessarily comfortable with or i

know everything and and i have to dig


in those days that i'm i'm sort of

staying in my comfort zone and then i

have gregor to push me

uh and i'm not always happy about that


when it's done i'm

happy with with the experience and with

or without results it doesn't matter


then of course

i think there's a lot of learning

material it's it's a bit overwhelming i

have to say but um we have a lot of

these industry events and and and


uh so i'm always willing to listen to

the wise people who have

more experience

in the industry uh of course you have to

be selective and and uh just pick what

what talks to you what makes sense to


uh but by far i have to say uh it's when

i learned from from my team as i said

i'm not

i don't have this this background i did

learn a lot but

of course there are gaps and

i i always like hearing something new

even the smallest things even about the

the the

new small function in memoq that i

didn't know about

uh that's that's when i'm the most happy


that's how it is

and what new competencies will you be

developing in the near future have you


identified something


we we grow we grow every year

and we realize that

when you grow you cannot grow at all or

at a given pace without good people

talents as we say today and uh

that's something uh that that we are

currently working on

uh attracting

uh good tech savvy


people with with the drive

so this is definitely something for for

us sorry i got that gun

this is definitely something for us to


uh how to get attract uh pick these

people uh at the end of the day

uh of course the technology is is uh

there's a lot of that again

you have to

you have to follow that and and

implement it when it makes sense uh to


uh so that's that's learning in that

direction is never ending and for sure

as i mentioned uh remote interpreting is

definitely something

that is

opening up although i think on-site uh

events will get back


online would stay so i think there's a

lot of

room for for improvement and learning


uh and and in general uh

we we have so much room to to develop

uh so i suppose there's endless list of

skills that we have to gain for sure


just before we move on to the closing

remarks are there any conferences that

you have already identified for this

year where you'll be participating

uh yes we uh even before the the



came uh

we we planned to go to berlin to

lockworld so lockworth is normally on

our on our list

now when it went online uh we are able

to to um participate uh in all three

that are

on a yearly basis if i'm not wrong but

next year we should go to berlin


memo q fest should be on the list as

well especially because we have

such a great partnership and budapest is

it's close to ljubljana so it's

it's something that uh

we shouldn't miss i believe so that's

for the this

first part of the year

uh and there's of course many many



and in the second half probably uh tecom

this is

we we've never been there


every year we sort of have it planned

but then we didn't participate so

that could be something new for us this


time to set up a new booth

we'll see i have to talk to gregor about

it yeah why not


so oliveira thank you so much for

joining us today and for this really

super insightful conversation we had and

before we wrap this up would you have

any closing remarks

uh other than thanking you for for uh

for to join you for this podcast i i

just uh wanted to say hi to your to your


uh and uh

i don't have anything much to add other

than that i'm pleased to be in this this

community so

and i don't i don't think you can

survive in it if if you if you observe

it only as your job you you have to love


excellent excellent message for the


thank you again oliveira

you're welcome thank you

thank you for joining memo qtalks where

we talked with industry leaders about

their experiences and lessons learned to

gain new insights about what works best

across all areas of localization join us

next time on memoq talks



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