the early 1990s New Zealander, Grant McNamara ran a business in Wellington, New
Zealand, training IT staff from many different countries who worked for major
Grant moved on to other things, but that was
not the last working contact he was to have with 'foreigners'.
Grant's son went on a one year student exchange programme to Germany. Returning
to New Zealand he started a university degree in German, and did some German to
English translation to help pay his fees.
"That gave me the idea,"
Grant told One-a-Week.
"I looked carefully at the market and noticed
there was actually a modest number of companies offering translation services,"
So Grant built himself a web site and launched www.translateme.co.nz
offering to translate web sites into a range of languages. He now has 75 qualified
translators working with him.
"I expected the revenue to supplement
my existing IT consultancy business," he explained, "and after twelve
months become my main source of income.
"I discovered it was far
more work, and there was so much more to learn, than I'd expected!" he recalled.
"So I put my head down and I've had it down ever since.
I've had a great deal of fun, and apart from one problem web site translation,
the work has been rewarding.
"Primarily we're working with web site
developers and software developers. As well as working for a straight fee, we
are also interested in making joint ventures with software developers. Under this
arrangement we fund the translation of the software, and receive a percentage
of the resulting revenue of the software in the particular language(s) in which
we've contributed," he said
"To date the effort has not been
worthwhile financially when I compare the hours spent against the returns,"
Grant said. "Although we haven't lost any money either ... there are very
"I'm lucky to have a quite lucrative source of income
from consultancy which allows me to devote considerable time to the translation
"But several of our proposals have been accepted, and requests
to propose our services are now usually a daily occurrence. Within a few months
the business will be financially successful," he said.
marketing is performed mainly late at night. I have three main approaches,"
he went on.
"First, every night I search the Internet for about 25
or 30 web site development firms. I email them explaining our services.
also recently started writing articles explaining a little about translation options
for web sites, and I plan to release an article every fortnight.
I keep a careful check on our listings on search engines and the hit statistics
on the web site," he said.
"And the web site continues to expand.
I spend several hours each week adding what I hope is helpful information about
language found in dictionaries and history books.
"Off line marketing
has been restricted to a little cold calling on old friends and colleagues, and
door knocking," he said, "but frankly, I'm not that interested to promote
the business in New Zealand."
"The most successful marketing
tactic is a direct email to a web site," he said. "And the emails which
work best are when there's something unique about the specific web site which
I can comment on.
"I guess it comes across to them that I am genuinely
interested in their site and what they offer," he said. "I want to convince
them that our firm can help them and their clients be more successful."
"I have no idea knowing how many emails actually get read," he admitted.
"I'm sure many just go straight into the deleted items folder. But very few
people have responded negatively."
" I try to spend 10 hours
per week on that task. There's no expense other than time, and the only tools
I use are Outlook Express and an Excel spreadsheet," he said.
more and more people hook-up to the Internet, the need to offer information via
the web has to broaden beyond English far more than it currently is," Grant
"Translation, and more specifically web site localization,
has to grow to accommodate all those millions of people coming online," he
"Let's face it. Who's going to buy products, order a
hotel room, or book a rental car from a web site when they can't read the text?"