Disruptive CEOs

Dreamforce is ON! In its eleventh year running, Dreamforce is the biggest cloud computing event of the year and Smartling is so excited to be in San Francisco for the week. Our CEO Jack Welde is in attendance, along with some of our sales and marketing colleagues.

Jack participated in a panel yesterday called “Disruptive Startups: How Innovative Leaders Are Shaking Up Industries”. Jack was honored to share the stage with Adam Blitzer, COO and co-founder of Pardot, as well as Angus Davis, CEO and Founder of Swipely, and moderator Michael Brosseau.

Jack Welde At Dreamforce

With a few Smartlings in the crowd during this session, we got the full scoop on the panel discussion.

WHAT MOTIVATED JACK AT THE BEGINNING? Jack described his motivation for shaking up the translation industry and starting Smartling. As a buyer of translation services, he saw that despite the size of the industry ($34 billion per year), it was still very much a people-powered business with little technology to support the process. “As a buyer,” Jack explained, “I wanted a fully integrated service, so that as I do the normal things for my business, the content would be automatically deployed.”

CAN YOU ANTICIPATE WHAT WILL BE DISRUPTIVE? Jack described his personal experience with disruption as CEO of Smartling. “What people forget is that disruption is messy, when you’re doing something completely different. If you’re truly disrupting, you’re breaking things. You’re stepping on toes.” But his experiences with disruption haven’t necessarily been what he would have anticipated back in the early days of Smartling. For example, Jack explained that early on he expected that the basic business premise of translation and localization as a business necessity might be met with resistance. “I was expecting more (resistance along the lines of) ‘Why would I need to do this? Doesn’t everyone speak English?’, but I was pleasantly surprised that all marketers really get that global expansion is necessary for businesses today.”

HOW DO YOU ATTRACT CUSTOMERS? Jack stressed constant improvement as Smartling’s primary driver. “If you’re not focused on ‘What’s Next?’, then someone who has that focus can come along and eat your lunch.”

“Smartling is constantly looking for every possible way to service our customers better.” While the other panelists discussed targeting specific customer segments, Jack explained that Smartling has tried to scale its offering to meet a range of demands.

“Everybody needs translation. Every single company will need content translated at some point. That’s a tough market to target. We have Fortune 500 companies as clients, all the way down to small businesses. The secret is finding a way to do that in a cost effective way. That’s the name of the game in 2013 and beyond: find a way to sell in the way each customer wants to buy.”

WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR SMARTLING? Jack outlined three ongoing commitments:

  1. Making a product that is as delightfully easy to use as possible. By staying committed to trying to perfect the design, you have happier customers, better retention, and lower customer service volume.
  2. Integrating Smartling into every possible platform where businesses are creating or manipulating content, which increases the reach and ease of use.
  3. Helping our customers with globalization, not just translation. And at that point, Jack hinted at Smartling’s plans to offer more comprehensive solutions in the future toward that end.

Curious to learn more about our product roadmap or how we can help you globalize? Leave a blog comment or drop us a line and we will take it from there! And if you’re attending Dreamforce, let us know that too, and we’ll find a way to meet in person.

About Team Smartling

Smartling is a software company with the mission to make the world’s content multilingual.