5 Minutes With Jack Welde, Founder, Smartling

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Jack is a technology early-adopter, serial entrepreneur, software patent-holder, product evangelist, and combat-decorated Air Force pilot. Before founding Smartling, he served as SVP of Product at eMusic and COO/CTO at SheSpeaks and RunTime Technologies. He also co-founded Trio Development, a software company that created the first personal information manager, which was acquired by Apple in 1993. He holds a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also studied linguistics and interned with Professor William Labov, and an MBA from Cameron University in Germany. Jack was named one of Fast Company’s “Who’s Next” in 2011, and was named a 2013 NYC Venture Mentor by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Tell me about Smartling, in a nutshell.

Smartling is a language translation company that helps customers localise their content across devices and platforms so they can reach their customers in their language.

Our technology automates the process surrounding translation by seamlessly integrating with the customer’s content, and making it available to human translators. We work across departments from E-commerce to Marketing to Product, and ingest content from Content Management Systems (CMSs), Code Repositories, Marketing Automation Systems – if it has a web address or an API endpoint, we can integrate with it.

We also work with freelance human translators who are talented writers that understand the markets you’re trying to reach with your content. Our model is unique because you will actually know the translator who is working on your content, and have the ability to communicate with them directly in the platform.

I’m very proud that we’ve been recognised by CSA Research as the #1 Leader of the 2019 MarketFlex for language-oriented TMS, and by G2 as the Leader of the 2019 G2 Grid for Translation Management. A testament to the company’s commitment to delivering excellence at every step of the way.

What are Smartling’s clear differentiators compared to other localisation/translation software in ecommerce?

Smartling’s localisation platform takes the guesswork out of translating your eCommerce content, creating consistent customer experiences throughout the world. There are a number of ways that Smartling does so. Firstly, professional translations. With over 30 million words delivered monthly, Smartling’s breadth of translation expertise is vast. Our full-service translation agency employs top-level translators leveraging that can translate your content within the context of your website. If you’re selling a jacket, the translator actually sees the jacket in Smartling’s translation editor. Alongside your branding guidelines, translators are then able to ensure your voice is carried over into other markets.

What gap in the market does Smartling strive to address?

Smartling’s TMS centralises eCommerce translation for your digital storefront across devices and platforms and simplifies the whole translation process. It enables you to automate, manage, and professionally translate content. What’s more is that Smartling continuously indexes hundreds of data points for insight to simplify the process. The more you do, the more it learns; and, this in turn reduces your cost over time.

Why should ecommerce firms invest in Smartling?

Smartling has a proven track record in helping eCommerce organisations ramp up their internationalisation efforts. Don’t just take it from me. Hear it from our customers. Take it from Canary for example who started working with Smartling relatively early in their plans for retail penetration and global expansion. Within 15 months they were trading within 15 countries.

What are some of the ways Smartling has helped the firms that it works with?

Going global is the main objective of an organisation when they come to Smartling, and that is exactly what we help them do. One of my favourite success stories is that of Eurail.com. Eurail.com enables travelers from around the world to explore Europe by rail. They needed to make a change in the way they were translating their content and find a solution to help them scale seamlessly. Using Smartling they leveraged better reporting and data and did so with greater translation accuracy, launching within just 46 days all while saving 70% in cost by leveraging translation memory.

If someone said “localisation is not a priority” for their business, what would be your response to them?

Localisation employs multiple techniques to adapt content’s full meaning for a new region, with translation being just one aspect. It takes into account the culture of a region and the related nuance in language as it relates to that culture. Localisation extends even further beyond the written content, into related imagery, overall tone, and message the content is trying to convey.

That is exactly why localisation is so important, brands can offer a personal connection to these shoppers. Most people primarily want to engage with brands that offer products or content in their location, specific to their region and culture. And with global online sales expected to grow 17.5% by 2021, it’s not to be ignored.

What would you say to the critics or sceptics who believe online translations software is not always accurate?

By now, software has matured sufficiently to improve accuracy in translations to reflect the intended context and tone. When looking to buy a TMS there are a number of key features you should look for. Advanced reporting combined with proper visual context is the key to successful translation accuracy. The best vendors provide deep dives and drill-down reports on each specific translation project to give you piece of mind that your copy is being treated with care.

Smartling does all of this and more. This year we launched our Move The World with Words campaign, a campaign dedicated to understanding the stories of human translators that compliment Smartling’s technology. We even produced a book!

What role do you think Smartling has in the future of ecommerce?

E-commerce companies have numerous opportunities to grow in the years ahead. However, smart planning to serve international markets is key. Having a content localisation strategy, and a world class translation provider is more important than ever before. Smartling’s localisation platform is the one-stop solution for any translation needs.

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