Home > Start-ups > Translation and interpretation firm founded by migrant who arrived in Ireland in 2003 has expanded well beyond expectations

Translation and interpretation firm founded by migrant who arrived in Ireland in 2003 has expanded well beyond expectations

June 3, 2015

by The Irish Times, 3rd June 2015

Translit has come a long way in a short time. Alex Chernenko established the Limerick-based company, which also has offices in Cork city, as a one-man operation in 2009.

Since then, it has expanded well beyond what he originally envisaged and Alex is now looking to franchise his business model to grow the company further.

A recent finalist in the Best Emerging/Start-up Business category at the Limerick Chamber Regional Business Awards, Translit provides certified translation and interpretation services. The company has a database of more than 500 translators and interpreters covering more than 70 languages.

More recently, it has moved into a number of related work areas such as localisation and even further afield into facilitating company formations, and providing business consultancy services and tax advice.

Alex, who is proficient in English, Ukrainian, Russian and Romanian, moved to Ireland from the Ukraine in 2003. After getting a degree in computer engineering from the University of Limerick, he began to freelance as a translator while also working in IT.

“I have always had a passionate love of languages so it was a bit of a no-brainer that I ended up working as a translator. There was heavy demand for them during the boom and, after a while, I figured I’d make more money setting up my own business than working as a freelancer for other companies, so that’s what I did.

“I started off with a couple of clients and, as I was working from home at that time, it was pretty simple because I had few overheads.

“We grew enough to open up offices in Limerick city a short time later but eventually, as with most companies in Ireland, we noticed a slowdown as the recession began to impact on business.

“Over the next few years, there was a decline in the industry but we were able to turn things around by diversifying. I had a technical background so it made sense for me to concentrate on localisation as there was a lot of work available in that area.

Diversifying

“It paid off because we moved the company into positive equity in 2013, continued growing last year and expect to do the same in 2015.”

While diversifying helped Translit stay afloat during the downturn, the firm has also gained from the fact that more Irish companies are seeking to expand into other markets.

“The biggest proportion of our clients are Irish-based businesses that are exporting overseas. We’re getting a lot of work from companies who are looking for interpreters to help them at conferences or when they have visitors coming here from abroad.

“A lot of firms are also coming to us to get brochures and websites translated into other languages too so that they can attract clients from overseas.

“Translation work continues to lag behind, but it is coming back and, meanwhile, the interpretation side of the business is doing really well.”

“As well as Irish clients, we also have a couple of UK and Russian customers and a few from outside Europe, but as much as 90 per cent of business at present is in Ireland. We are looking to increase the work we get in from outside the country,” he said.

European languages, in particular, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch, are the most popular among clients looking for translation services. Chinese is also increasingly in demand as are other languages of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia and India), Alex said.

However, there is currently less of a need for Russian at present due to the situation in Ukraine.

“Very few companies are doing business there until things sort themselves out.”

While Translit has a number of competitors, Alex believes the wide range of services offered by the company means that others can’t provide such a comprehensive package for clients. He also believes that its attention to detail is a factor in winning repeated business.

Quality control

“We have quite a complex quality control process that includes a lot of proofreading and double-checking of content. We also always ensure that it is a native speaker who translates documents rather than someone who may have a second language to make sure that the tone is right,” he said.

“We’re also investing quite heavily in technology so that people can send documents to us that need to be translated. It used to be the case that customers would drop in to us with documents, but we’re making things easier by updating our tech so they can just take a photo of it and send on to us for translation.”

With ambitions to grow the company further, Alex is now looking for investors to come on board.

“We want to hire more salespeople and continue to invest in technology so we’re hoping to attract additional funding.

“I would also like to franchise the Translit business model because I really believe that no one offers a service as complete as us,” he said.

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