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TransPerfect: Go Big or Stay Home

The New York Enterprise Report - November/December Issue

What the company does: Provides translation, localization, interpreting and legal support services in more than 170 languages

Founders: Liz Elting, Phil Shawe

When founded: 1992

Number of employees: 2,600

Overseas presence: 80 offices worldwide.

Expansion challenges: “The expectations of consumers, clients, business partners, and end users are increasing every day,” says co-founder Liz Elting. “It used to be that if a company offered materials or a website in multiple languages, this was deemed as a differentiator and a competitive advantage. Today, with so many companies investing resources into large-scale and intelligent global initiatives, audiences are coming to expect top-quality materials and content in the language they prefer.

“Companies that don’t deliver will be left behind. They will need to go the extra step of truly investigating not only the languages, but also the cultures of the regions into which they’re expanding. By incorporating regional subtleties, businesses will have a much higher success rate in new territory than if they simply offer what has become table stakes.”

Best practice: “At TransPerfect, we don’t measure our success by how many companies we translate materials for; we measure by how many of our clients we can help succeed with their global aspirations. We might point them to resources that can save money and improve quality, or perhaps introduce them to a company that has recently completed a similar project.

“Our philosophy means going beyond simply providing translation resources to acting as a resource for the new regions as a whole, to truly advise our clients on what the best practices are for any culture they want to approach. For example, we know that many Brazilians are bilingual, so we don’t let our clients blindly choose to translate materials into Portuguese only. Our in-country experts know the cultural differentiators and distinctions that businesses seeking to enter foreign markets often don’t. In this way we manage to keep both TransPerfect and our clients ahead of the curve.”