Translation Agency on TV show Shark Tank - charges .17 a word
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 23, 2013

A translation agency was recently featured on the American television show Shark Tank where entrepreneurs compete to have wealthy investors invest in their businesses:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Tank

I cannot post the name of the company due to ProZ rules, but I'm sure anyone can find it.

According to their website they charge clients 0.17 a word (or 0.14 a word if the client pays a monthly subscription fee).



[Edited at 2013-05-23 13:20 GMT]


 

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:32
English to Dutch
+ ...
This would be interesting... May 23, 2013

...if we knew what they intend to pay their translators, and in what currency these figures are.

 

oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 14:32
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I wonder... May 23, 2013

how much they are paying their translators...

Do you know if I can find the video on youtube?

Thank you Jeff.


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:32
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Ajajaj.... May 23, 2013

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

A translation agency was recently featured on the American television show Shark Tank where entrepreneurs compete to have wealthy investors invest in their businesses:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Tank

I cannot post the name of the company due to ProZ rules, but I'm sure anyone can find it.

According to their website they charge clients 0.17 a word (or 0.14 a word if the client pays a monthly subscription fee).



[Edited at 2013-05-23 13:20 GMT]


Was this the pair of Wharton grads who were promoting their OPI business, which could be accessed via a smarthphone app?

So wish I'd been one of the sharks on that episode - I would have torn the business model to shreds, starting from their obvious lack of understanding of the language services industry, evidenced from the beginning by them constantly referring to translation when they obviously meant interpreting. Their critical mass of suppliers available 24/7 will be drawn from the vast untapped resource of "people who know a second language and have lots of free time they wish to monetize", as well as students in language schools, etc. IIRC, quality will be ensured by a rating system, whereby the customer will rate the performance of the interpreter after the call, and better-rated interpreters will get more jobs. Because, obviously, people who don't speak at least one of the working languages of the assignment are in a perfect position to judge.

Just another bottom feeder jumping on the bandwagon, if you ask me. But maybe there's a market for cheap, bad services, with zero quality control. At least, "Mr. Wonderful" (shark Kevin) seems to think so.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
They can't even be paying peanuts May 23, 2013

Acccording to that Wikipedia article,
Before coming on the show, each contestant is required to sign an agreement with Finnmax, the producer of the Shark Tank show promising Finnmax a "2 percent royalty" or "5% equity stake" in the contestant's business venture
That leaves even fewer crumbs for the translator who's doing the work.


 

TranslateThis  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
No doubt a bottom feeder May 23, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

Just another bottom feeder jumping on the bandwagon, if you ask me. But maybe there's a market for cheap, bad services, with zero quality control. At least, "Mr. Wonderful" (shark Kevin) seems to think so.



According to their website they offer volume discounts of up to 43%.


 

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
I am not sure... May 23, 2013

... if I may post this link to a related article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-21/wharton-grads-start-a-feeding-frenzy-on-shark-tank.

If this is not the case, I kindly apologise and expect mods to remove the comment.

If you Google the company, they emphasise on the "human translation" factor, have testimonials from happy-go-lucky chaps claiming that they feel respected and appreciated. I did notice one of them thanked them for turning his "hobby" (translation) into a full-time job. If you want to join their community, by the way, you can do so in three "easy" steps:

1. Sign up on-line
2. Test and train
3. Ready to translate!

Great, a pool of potentially uneducated people hijacking the profession because being a translator is so easy and profitable. There isn't a single translator in the management team so, all in all, visiting the website was a depressing experience.

According to the article, the company has 15 employees and 5,600 translators whilst the website boasts a pool of 8,000 + translators. I do not see the human factor at all, how can their service be personalised and how can they accurately test their freelancers?


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:32
German to English
+ ...
Interesting May 23, 2013

I didn't see the episode, but the website lists both translation and interpretation as services, although it sounds like on the show they were actually talking about interpreting. So this is the old AT&T Language Line revamped?

I clicked through the translator sign-up part of the site as much as I could without actually signing up. It's interesting that you have to take an online proficiency test, but there isn't one available yet for English. Also, the site doesn't require you to list direction, just the languages you "speak." It seems to be set up for going from EN>other language. I didn't see distinctions made for flavors of English, either.

PS The rates are in USD, and yes, they are low.


[Edited at 2013-05-23 21:32 GMT]


 

SusieZ
United States
Local time: 09:32
German to English
Why? May 23, 2013

Why can't we name the company? They were on national television pitching their product. This is of interest to all translator colleagues. Silly rule, if you ask me.

Shark Tank IS NOT SELLING translation work. Enter Shark Tank in Google and go to the website that is linked there. If you go through ABC.com, you'll get lost in the maze. Look for the episode that ran on 5.17 under recaps. You can watch the entire episode.

I believe most of the sharks were very aware that these guys didn't really have a good understanding of what they were doing. Why three were willing to invest is beyond me. I have sent a personal message to Mark Cuban, one of the investors, to give him some feedback from a professional.

Anyway, good viewing.


 

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
I couldn't help it May 24, 2013

Thanks for the info Suzie. I would have loved to watch the episode but I am not in the US and ABC's website is not available overseas.

Anyway, I left a comment on their Youtube video called: "The World's First Human-Powered Translation Service". The clip is a bit misleading, as though human translation normally wasn't available. What the hell?

I agree that the rule of not naming agencies should not apply here. It would be unprofessional if someone bad-mouthed a translation company whose terms and conditions they accepted in the first place but this agency is potentially harmful to the industry and is luring amateur translators into its workforce so why shouldn't it be named? It is not run by translators, anyone can sign up and there cannot be much quality control. I suppose there are advantages for the users on the one hand but on the other, if they are unfortunate enough to get a dodgy translator they may have a truly awful experience. I am simply flabbergasted. Translation is now a fast-food like service.

[Edited at 2013-05-24 03:27 GMT]


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:32
German to English
+ ...
Just Google May 24, 2013

"shark tank" and "translation" if you want to know the name of the app/site.

 

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks but that's not the point. May 26, 2013

It is easy to Google, my point is, an important website for translators, such as Proz.com should name this sort of companies so that new professional translators do not fall for them. Just read their FAQ and you'll find pearls such as: "Want to earn some extra cash in your spare time? Happen to speak two languages? You've come to the right place! It’s simple to earn money as a translator with XXXXXX".

 

CorbettAM  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 14:32
French to English
+ ...
I have had experience of this company May 27, 2013

I know what company you are talking about. I think as a relative newcomer to translation still finding my way, that it is very tempting to sign up when you are finding it hard to find work elsewhere.

They `failed` me in the test translation for not wanting to translate out of my native language (because the tests themselves are not that hard). I assume that is why anyway.

Let me explain:
In the test translation for the French to English language pair, there is a section where you translate a short article from French to English and then another one from English to French. I translated the first article but in the space given for the second one I wrote `I prefer not to translate from English to French (with my reason)`. I assume this is why I failed because the test translation for French to English was not very difficult and I was well capable of it. It was actually about a clothing accessory that had gone out of fashion and having experience of jargon for the fashion industry and clothes in general this is another reason why I could not have failed it. I hope I don`t sound arrogant here.

I got an email back 2 days later telling me I had failed the test translation. I wrote back to them saying I doubt very much that I failed it and that if the real reason why I was deemed to have failed is that I declined to translate from English into French (and the same for Spanish even though they have not got back to me about that test at all hmmmm) then I did not want to work for them after all (and I do not intend to whatever they say in their response to that). They emailed me back saying `thank you for the feedback and we will get back to you blah blah blah`. So to answer Trisha F`s question of how they can accurately test freelancers, well they obviously can`t do that right!!

You have to send your cv and state your highest qualification to get to the test translation stage but this is a joke as they then fail you for having the professionalism to point out your working preferences (as a relative newcomer to translation I prefer to stick to translating into my native language whether that is right or wrong - I think it`s right). Also, to expand on Trisha F`s question of testing translators, how can they possibly have time to check the credentials of everyone who applies?

I`m not sure if they confuse translation with interpreting though, as some people have said, but they might as well because they clearly don`t know much.

Well that`s my experience - anyone else like to share?


 

CorbettAM  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 14:32
French to English
+ ...
re. rates May 27, 2013

All that and I said nothing about the rates but let`s say the lowest rate is another example of their questionable business practice.

 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:32
Italian to English
Naming Outsourcers May 27, 2013

Thank you everyone for not giving me extra work (on this UK national holiday) by naming the outsourcer in question.

The explanation for the site's policy on this issue can be found here:
http://www.proz.com/faq/3070#3070


 


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Translation Agency on TV show Shark Tank - charges .17 a word

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