Founder and CEO of Mayflower Language Services Pvt. Ltd. (An ISO certified company, established in 2003), Madhuri Hegde, helps businesses in their global expansion through language solutions. She drives the demand for quality and excellence at Mayflower. The exceptional quality standards set by her resonates through Mayflower’s services. With her knowledge and strategic approach, she has driven the reach of Mayflower to Fortune 500 companies in over 20 countries across the globe.
“We are actively looking for technology partnerships for speech-to-text, text-to-speech, VR, AR, and IoT, which will be major areas for growth in services over the next couple of years”.
Madhuri takes her passion beyond Mayflower as well. She is on the board of directors of the prestigious ELIA, where she fosters the development of language service providers worldwide. As a Charter Member of TiE, she is also involved in mentoring early stage start-ups, in their planning and growth phases. She is also an eminent speaker at various events providing insights on business growth.
Q: What is it that made you pick such a niche field? How big is the opportunity in this domain?
A: My experience working in Europe was that European clients were averse to doing business with Indian firms due to language and communication challenges. Indian companies were losing out on opportunities despite their immense potential, talent and capabilities. They needed help in succeeding in markets outside India. Recognizing this need for language services in a fast-growing economy such as ours, I founded Mayflower Language Services in 2003.
Syndicated research by Common Sense Advisory, a reputed language service research firm, states that the global language industry is expected to reach USD 49.8 billion by 2019. With new linguistic regulations coming into place, especially in India, and initiatives such as Make in India and Digital India being introduced by the government, the need to make content available in Indian languages continues to increase.
Q: What was the role that your own personal experience and expertise in this space played in enabling you to set up such a venture?
A: My familiarity with software localization during my years in Paris, my fascination for different cultures and languages, and my experience in international business in various countries had given me insights into global business challenges. Above all, my commitment to enable Indian companies to prosper and grow outside India helped me create this enterprise.
Q: What exactly do customers ‘outsource’ to you and do you face confidentiality issues?
A: When customers face language-related challenges, be it internal or external, they look to Mayflower for a solution. The needs vary from something as simple as creating a user manual for a product destined for 40 countries tofinding a multilingual resource for knowledge acquisition in a different geography and simultaneous interpretation for teams distributed in various countries. We have also helped many clients take their products and games to the global market. We localized for instance, a mobile app to several Asian, European and Middle Eastern languages. This helped increase the app’s global user base to more than four million. With the appreciation that the app received on social media platforms, it also grabbed the attention of Apple Inc., a collateral benefit!
Confidentiality and information security ar paramount in our industry. Most of the time, we deal with the client’s core product or highly confidential, sensitive data. We handle these with the same seriousness as our client, and have relevant systems and measures in place to pre-empt confidentiality issues. All processes are continuously monitored, audited, and certified by internal and industry bodies.
Q: What were some of the key challenges that you faced when getting into the market? How did you overcome them?
A: When I founded Mayflower, the Indian language services landscape was fragmented and unorganized. Introducing and selling a relatively new concept such as software localization at that point was a big challenge. Clients were not sure about how a company based in India could deliver good quality in European or Asian languages. Quite a bit of effort went into educating them.
In 2003, being a new service, we had limited access to financing and skilled manpower was hard to find. Plus, a male-dominant society made things much more challenging. Sacrifices were expected at every step, including the home-front!
I remember in the initial years I had to attend a couple of client meetings in remote factories, and often I was the only woman in the entire place. Most people were not accustomed to seeing Indian women sit shoulder-to-shoulder with men and discuss business. There were times when I wasn’t taken seriously as I was a “young girl”. I was sometimes asked if I had another male business partner they could talk to. So I hired a male salesperson to attend meetings with me and soldiered on. My assertiveness and persistence paid off. Today, we work with over a 1,000 clients across 20 countries.
Q: What would you say is the key value add and differentiator that you bring to the customer table? What are the strengths that you have had to build since inception?
A: We bring learning from 14 years of industry experience in the form of four business units that are unique, streamlined and specific to the individual services we offer. We call them Centers of Excellence in the areas of Localization, Translation, Multimedia, and Staffing. This is our key differentiator, as it is unique and rare to find in our industry. The other differentiators are the leverage we get from our Innovation and Business Intelligence investments. No other competing language service provider has a strong structure and forward-thinking investments as we have today. We constantly strive to stay ahead of the curve.
Over the years, we have achieved high scalability, quick access to subject-matter experts, and have adopted technology for automation. These directly add value to our customers in terms of better quality, high reliability, cost efficiency, reduced turnaround times, and, more importantly, the agility that today’s businesses require to prosper.
Q: What would you say is the impact of SMAC and Digital on the business that you do? How are they expanding the opportunity for you?
A: SMAC and Digital have brought in a big change in the traditionalworking of our industry. All our resources use smartphones now and are connected all the time, which means it’s possible to collaborate in real time much more easily than before. Social media technology is also being leveraged to a large extent for crowd-sourcing, which means faster turnarounds and higher scalability.
Most tools we use are moving to the Cloud and all processes are getting automated, thus improving the ease of conducting business and creating more opportunities. Mobile learning is also catching on very quickly; opening up new avenues of business. Our IoT clients get translations from us for wearables and connected devices. Big Data and neural networks are being leveraged in our industry to automate translations. The opportunity is expanding and will continue to do so over the next few years.
Q: How are you achieving scale and leveraging some of these disruptive technologies to deliver your own offerings?
A: We have grown over the past year by more than 60 percent by leveraging technology and automating our processes.
- We provide customized machine translation engines to clients with specific needs. This helps process large volumes of content in a short period of time.
- Develop API connectors for integration of content management and translation management systems, thus automating the localization lifecycle.
- We streamline localization automation for the internal processes of clients
We are currently in the midst of building an online translation portal and are looking forward to leveraging advancements in neural networks in the near future for further increase in scale and value.
Q: In terms of revenue mix, what are your most sought after solutions?
A: A major source of revenue is from adapting software UI and apps to suit local and global markets. A big part also comes from localizing e-learning courses, which includes video localization and voiceovers.
Q: What are the kind of companies that are approaching you for services? Are SMEs on your radar as well?
A: We support companies from IT and ITES, Pharma, Automotive, Manufacturing, Advertising, BFSI, Lifesciences, Telecommunication, eLearning, Media, and Legal sectors. Being sensitive to SME needs, we have created a special package for start-ups that will help make their products available in European, Asian, and local Indian languages at interesting price points.
Q: What are the company’s future plans both in terms of products/services and global footprint?
A: To support our international clients, we have offices in the US and Europe. We have strategic alliances in Poland and Romania, which gives us access to the European market. We are building ties in the APAC region too. We are the translation partner for the e-commerce platform eUnimart, to help Indian merchants sell outside India. Currently, we are actively looking for technology partnerships for speech-to-text, text-to-speech, VR, AR, and IoT. This will be a major focus area for growth in services over the next couple of years.