We talked to Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT of Seekncheck, the marketplace for vetted translators, and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: These are challenging times for all of us. We need to adapt to thrive. This is exactly what we set our minds to do.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Seekncheck.
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: I started my career as a researcher in Artificial Intelligence. I founded a scientific research laboratory working in Artificial Intelligence for Education for 3 years. I then co-founded an AI-powered e-learning platform that allows universities in developing countries to offer their curriculum to broader audiences. Shortly after, I joined Google, where I coach organizations (mainly startups in their growth phase) on their AI and ML challenges. I then co-founded Seekncheck that we launched 2 years ago.
As a researcher, I often needed a language expert’s eyes to check my writings. It was crucial that she knew my industry, had experience working with scientific papers and at an affordable cost. Finding reliable translators online at affordable service rates is almost impossible. So we built this place. Seekncheck connects clients with freelance translators knowledgeable in their industry.
How does Seekncheck innovate?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: We make the proverbial “bidding for contracts” irrelevant. More so, we make it easy to find and hire reliable, pre-vetted, seasoned freelance translators online.
We use artificial intelligence to automatically connect customers with the perfect translators for their documents. It basically works like a search engine that you query with a document. You upload a document, and Seekncheck AI tells you who are the translators with the perfect experience and expertise to handle it. In seconds.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: Almost immediately after the first lockdown announcements, we observed a fall in the volume of demands.
We used to heavily focus on scientific translation and proofreading. We then decided to broaden the scope of specialized offers available on the platform. We started to more actively hire technical, legal, and sworn translators.
We also developed a version of the platform dedicated to organizations with frequent and recurring needs for language services. We launched our API and started partnering with companies building multilingual machine learning models.
Besides the personalized client-seller match, we innovate by making our platform the one-stop place for any language services needs.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: We had to discipline ourselves around a few specific products, features, and services. Efficiency is key, and this is often correlated with simplicity.
We reviewed the way we do things, from how we build products to how we communicate. We acquired a fresh understanding of the meaning and power of “Simplicity”.
“Keep it simple” is probably the most underrated advice to founders.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: Seekncheck is a fully remote startup. It has been from day one. So, we did not have to go through an adaptation process to work efficiently as a team. However, we made some significant changes to make sure that everyone in the team is coping well with local challenges due to the pandemic and make sure to keep the morale of the troops high.
We have a communication framework built around OKRs, weekly updates, and “flash” 1:1s. But, in addition to that, we increased team-building activities and created more occasions for the team to play, chat and run fun challenges outside of work.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: Our main competitors are translation marketplaces like ProZ and TranslatorCafé.
We set in the game focusing on the segment of the market that requires premium services while waving the bidding hassle for translators. We make it possible for vetted translators to easily connect with high-end customers looking for their specific skills. And, for this, they just have to fill out their profile. Our AI takes care of the rest.
Your final thoughts?
Ben-Manson TOUSSAINT: It is vital to adapt to thrive. This is true for startups and in life. Defaulting to simplicity helps the efficiency of adaptation. Getting to simplicity ironically is not that simple, but it is worth the effort. Keep things simple!
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