First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Oscar Nogueras: Although Spain became one of the centres of coronavirus pandemic in Europe, I’ve been lucky enough not to have any close friends, colleagues, or family hit by the first wave. Once the second shocked us by the end of summer, some of them were diagnosed asymptomatic and had to quarantine for two weeks. Now, I have the impression that coronavirus is closing upon us, so we cannot forget that hygiene and security measures and staying home as much as possible are key to fighting COVID-19.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Ontranslation.
Oscar Nogueras: My professional career has taken me down many different paths, but always related to translation, intercultural communication, and training. After being a freelance translator for seven years, I worked as a language teacher and coordinator of training centres. Then I pivoted and set up Ontranslation in 2010. In fact, it’s our 10th anniversary today! What a coincidence!
In the beginning, it was only me trying to cope with everything, managing projects, and setting up the business while working full time as an HR training consultant. After two years of working 24/7, I left my full-time job to fully develop Ontranslation and welcomed more people into the team. I’m very happy that two of them are still working with me today.
Last year, I joined the Autonomous University of Barcelona as a lecturer on Translation and Digital Marketing for the MA on Translation Technologies and Localization, Tradumatics.
How does Ontranslation innovate?
Oscar Nogueras: We have been working very hard on improving our transcreation services for digital marketing projects. With coronavirus, we saw a rise in requests from many local companies, which realized that to be able to survive, they had to grow cross-borders by having both cultural and linguistic differences in mind when launching their international marketing campaigns. This way, SEO translation, and SEM translation services prove to be essential. Although we had been offering these services for quite a long time, we have optimized the workflow and processes.
Moreover, we are collaborating with some universities to introduce neural machine translation services into our portfolio. We expect to be offering MT and postediting services by 2021.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Oscar Nogueras: After the first three months of the pandemic, we saw a 35% fall in the business. Many of our most important clients were from the tourism sector, which left us in a tight spot. We had to focus on attracting more digital customers in the e-commerce and web design arena, investing in marketing and networking events to strengthen our brand, and perfecting our customer experience and workflow. Luckily, thanks to these strategies, we are now back at almost pre-Covid figures.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Oscar Nogueras: A lot of the businesses reacted quickly and placed their workers on furlough right on day one. At Ontranslation, we fought through for three months by just cutting unnecessary expenses since we thought that would be enough. Few projects were coming in, some clients stopped paying their bills, and we were caught in the middle. Unfortunately, we had to dismiss two people and reduced working shifts during the summer. Now we are back on track and ready to be welcoming new employees on board again. I do hope no more measures will be taken in the near future.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Oscar Nogueras: Four years ago, I rescued my dog Timón, and it has been very beneficial for both my mental and physical health. Let your feet help your head! I would also recommend calling upon a professional psychologist or therapist to help you go through difficult times. At work, we had some individual and group online sessions during the first wave, which helped us a lot. It’s also important to share your thoughts and worries with your team, friends, and family since you are all in the same boat.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Oscar Nogueras: The translation industry seems to be moving towards MT and AI in order to reduce costs and maximize turnover. Although we are planning to add neural machine translation and post-editing to our portfolio, we are more focused on spreading the word about companies’ need to engage their international customers thanks to transcreation services, especially in the digital marketing arena. I reckon that our expertise and the customer experience in this field is going to be key for our future development.
Your final thoughts?
Oscar Nogueras: Life won’t be the same after COVID-19, but that’s fine. I am positive about the future. This pandemic has taught us very important lessons and forced many of us to play out different scenarios. But as entrepreneurs, we are used to adapting to changes, which is precisely what we should do now.