We talked to Valentina Vignolo-Love, founder of TranslationsInLondon, about online translation agencies, and this is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: I am doing well. Thanks for asking!
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded TranslationsInLondon.
Valentina Vignolo-Love: I am Valentina Vignolo-Love, founder and managing director of TranslationsInLondon. My background is in linguistics (I have a degree in Translation and interpreting), but I have always had an interest in marketing and sales. I worked for another LSP in Dublin, and when I moved to the UK, I started freelancing, offering mainly EN>IT translations.
Thanks to my background, I managed to network, and I decided to offer more languages and start up my own company under the name of TranslationsInLondon. Ten years later, TranslationsInLondon is a well-known player in the translation industry, delivering millions of words each month.
How does TranslationsInLondon innovate?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: TranslationsInLondon has always been flexible. When I started up, I was based in a tiny office space, and I realized straight away that quality translators could make a difference for my business and really make it stand out. It didn’t take a fancy office in Central London or a huge number of staff. Over the years, we have developed a strong working relationship with our linguists, and we value them as we value employees. Many people contributed to our growth, from interns to our long-time accountant. We also aim at educating clients as we are aware that some bigger agencies do promise what can be an impossible turnaround if you are trying to deliver quality every time. We want to be a partner for our clients, not just a throwaway service.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: In terms of sales, our business hasn’t stopped for a second. We work with many medical and pharmaceutical companies; hence their demand has been growing. However, the pandemic brought us to see things in a different light. Retrospectively, we were lucky as thanks to our flexible structure, and we were able to keep on working from day 1. Although the business kept growing, we faced other difficulties as the first lockdown was mentally exhausting (especially with children at home). Whilst the medical and pharma industry was buzzing, and other industries were quieter. I am aware of many interpreters that struggle.
When the pandemic started, I followed the news in Italy (where I am originally from), and I started reaching out to my regular clients and informed them that our circumstances have not changed. I think it is important to keep your clients, staff, and vendors in the loop. In reality, nothing changes for us as we were already working remotely, but it was good to have a conversation with our clients and somehow tell them, “we are still here.”
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: In terms of staff, we were quite lucky as we mainly rely on freelance translators. We were able to offer more work than usual for our translators with medical expertise. I personally worked longer shifts than usual, and I believe my team has experienced burnout. We tried to take on as much work as we could as we were not sure if opportunities could have slowed, but also, there was more time available to go (England is currently on its third lockdown). There was also a sense of satisfaction in at least making a small contribution to the Covid-19 effort in managing to deliver this content on time and to a high standard.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: When it comes to the Translation, we use Trados 2020. Trados is one of the best tools on the market, in my opinion. Our projects are managed through a portal called XTRF. It allows us to monitor projects and their progress from everywhere.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: The translation industry is highly competitive, and in the last ten years, many companies were founded. Some flourished; others couldn’t keep up with the evolving industry. We try to build lasting trusted partnerships with our clients. There is always someone prepared to do the work for slightly less in this industry, but to what standard, and will they still be around when you need them next time? We can also learn from our competitors, and in our industry, we highly rely on trusted partners and regularly cooperate with larger LSPs.
Your final thoughts?
Valentina Vignolo-Love: Covid 19 has changed in many ways how people work, interact and live. Although we were not personally affected economically, we experienced a huge influx of work in key sectors. Finding a balance is essential from a health point of view, too, as overworking is not sustainable on a long-term basis. We were somehow lucky to work with medical and pharmaceutical companies as other industries such as tourism and hospitality have paid a huge price. For us, it was important to have a varied client portfolio.