Whether you like it or not, the Internet and computers speak English. But I must confess, like all non-native English speakers, I feel more comfortable surfing the Web and using apps in my native tongue. So I always appreciate software that thinks about me and has version in my language.
In computer industry, software translation is called localization. Here at Freemake, our users helped us translate our programs and website via Crowdin. This is a handy collaborative translation tool by Sergey Dmytryshyn, a young programmer from Ukraine. We have questioned Sergey about his 3-year-old startup and the importance of software localization. Read what we found out.
Freemake: Today almost everyone on the Net understands English. Why do you think localization is necessary?
Sergey: First of all, there’re numerous researches illustrating how important the localization is. For example, the report “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” by Common Sense Advisory claim that:
- 72% of software consumers are more likely buy a product which is localized in their own language;
- 56% of consumers find that the ability to obtain information in their native language is more important than price.
Yeah, these are just numbers, but we get a picture. Other important point is that the localization involves not only strings translation but cultural adaptation as well, it’s really crucial while expanding into new markets. Sometimes product adaptation to a specific market can even become its competitive advantage.
Freemake: How did Crowdin start?
Sergey: Well, it appeared not at once. At technical university I started developing the tool that remotely reminded of Crowdin. Also I took part in several Open Source projects and saw how developers did translations. In fact, it was really hard to find a good solution for a software company. At the same time the Internet community actively discussed the successful Facebook effort to localize their social network via crowd-sourcing. Knowing advantages of crowd-source translations and considering my previous experience, I saw an opportunity and launched what we call Crowdin now.
Freemake: What does a developer need to do in order to localize software or a website in Crowdin?
Sergey: We do not require any initial commitments and provide free evaluation period for customers. All what a developer needs to start a project is to sign up, upload a resource file and invite users to participate. I hope that we support all industry standardized localization formats, so itâ€™s easy to migrate from other solutions.
Freemake: Today software developers have two options to localize their products – to order a professional translation or use collaboration localization tools like Crowdin. Don’t you think that the quality of a “user-made” translation falls behind the professional one?
Sergey: After observing numerous Crowdin projects, I came to a conclusion that the best translators for an application are its users. I believe itâ€™s true, this is why: usually professional translators have to work almost blindly with a list of strings and with no ability to see the original context. Yes, I know that developers try to clarify strings meanings through descriptions and screenshots, sometimes translators can even edit strings in the software interface. However, that’s not enough. Understanding the real meaning of the texts and titles in the application is something bigger and application users do have it. Still our customers can order professional translation from our partners, or just proofreading that is much cheaper.
Freemake: Do you consider your startup successful? Have you already reached your business goals?
Sergey: Sure, we are successful. We reached a break-even point within 6 months since announcing pricing and currently the company is in active growth. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go. Our business goals are driven by market trends and our requirements to ourselves. As soon as we meet them, we move ahead.
Freemake: Your startup is rather B2B. Here at Freemake, we develop software for consumer market. We suppose that B2B niche is more difficult to conquer. Do you feel the same?
Sergey: Itâ€™s hard for me to say which is easier to conquer. Of course, the interaction with business clients as well as product representation are different. Our biggest problem is the lack of trust from big companies even after they realize that Crowdin is suitable solution for them. Often we have to convince them that we won’t disappear in a year, that their translations are in safe place.
Freemake: Is it hard to be a CEO at 26?
Sergey: I don’t think I can be referred to as a CEO. CEO sounds too loud for us, we’re too small for such titles. At the moment Iâ€™m trying to take part in any process in our startup. I really love to reply support emails to better understand customers’ needs. Iâ€™m a programmer, so I code, too. I always want to make sure that everything is done all right. Actually, it may be a problem that I take too much upon myself and not just focus on the highest-value things I can do for Crowdin. But still, I like it.
Freemake: Any business plans for future?
Sergey: We have lots of plans which we’re really excited about! In the long run we probably will try to adopt our product for translation service providers and localization agencies since they have a big interest in our solution. My personal goal is to keep focused and enthusiastic about everything I do at Crowdin and people I work with.