Role and company:
Co-founder and managing director of TranslateMedia.
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):
Currently £6m but aiming for £8.5m in 2013.
We have 80 people in seven cities across the US, Europe and Asia. We also have around 6500 freelance translators on board.
Growth forecast for the next three years:
We are looking to maintain around 40 percent growth.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
TranslateMedia is revolutionising the way that businesses manage their translation needs. With a global approach, state of the art technology and an unrivalled approach to customer service, we are delivering high quality translation quickly and under budget.
What’s the big vision for your business?
Our main goal is to continue delivering superlative customer service. Our main goal is that we do this quicker and cheaper, so, we continue to invest in technology that allows us to do so. We are keen to continue strengthening our position in the US market and becoming the leader in marketing and media related translations.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
Currently, about 40 percent of our clients are overseas, mainly in the US, France, Germany and Asia. We expect this to rise to 50 per cent in the next 24 months. Given the nature of our business, all of our work relates to international business.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
A business’ outlook can turn on a dime. I was involved in an advisory business in Brazil that helped US and European tech companies to launch in South American markets. The combination of the dotcom crash and 9/11 wiped this market out in six months.
What makes you mad in business today?
Clients who demand the earth which we then bend over backwards to deliver and then they pay late. Banks that make you jump through all the hoops and then back down at the last minute.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
Increased demand for translation services, consolidation amongst suppliers and the growth of machine translation which will change the supply chain and also make translation more accessible to a wider market.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?
I can’t speak for others in our sector but we have managed to finally start working with a bank that understands our needs – although not without all the personal guarantees they can get from you. It would seem that US banks are a little more supportive than the ones in the UK.
How would others describe your leadership style?
Passionate, demanding, ‘lead by example’, hopefully supportive and hands on -probably a little too hands off at times.
Your biggest personal extravagance?
Bicycles. I have too many of them.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:
The government needs to focus more on the small businesses that have hit the £3m turnover and above bracket. They should also put less focus on the pre-revenue startups. It might be a sexy message to voters to cosy up to tech city startups, but the real driver in employment and creativity is going to come from businesses that get to the point where they can grow from ten to 80 employees and start exporting their services abroad. These are the businesses that need tax credits, bank support and a grant system to help with training to take them to the next level.