KantanMT was recently announced as a finalist in three out of eight categories of the Irish Software Awards 2016 (ISA 2016); ‘Emerging Company of the Year’, ‘Technology Innovation of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement in International Growth’. This is very exciting news for us, and our success has only been made possible thanks to our brilliantly supportive clients and partners. The announcement led us to walk down the memory lane, and think about things that we did right over the past couple of years.
We would like to share some basic principles that we followed as a company, which helped us succeed and made us one of the most recognisable brands, not only within the translation and localization industry, but also within the wider Software Service scene.
If you are in a start-up mode, these pointers will help you achieve full commercial exploitation within the span of a year:
Find strong investors who believe in your idea
You might have a brilliant business plan for your start-up, and may have even secured small-scale funding to execute your business ideas. But, how do you move to the next level and secure bigger funding that will provide you with a strong foot-hold in the industry? It all boils down to experience and your readiness to change your ideas.
When we talk about experience, we are not just talking about the experience of the founders, but also of the investors you pitch to. You should not just accept funding from any investor. Instead, look for investors who can bring business experience to the table, and help you to achieve your vision.
Back in 2015, the Irish Times reported how Tony O’Dowd, Founder and Chief Architect of KantanMT, raised €1.1 million in seed funding from venture capital company Delta Partners and the Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start Up fund. In both cases, the investment was supported by strong business and strategic advice from the funding partners. This is where the willingness to change comes into play.
During the initial phase of your business, it will be important to be flexible. You might have a strong business idea, but this might not be suitable for commercial success. Listen to your investors and advisors and be ready to make changes to your strategy.
As Tony O’Dowd told The Irish Times, “starting your first business is definitely daunting as everything is new and you’re travelling down every road for the first time. Next time around there is a lot of commonality and because you’ve learned by engaging with the school of hard knocks, you’re better at anticipating the problems and meeting the challenges. You also have a better network of contacts, you’re less frazzled when things don’t go right and you can actually grow the business faster and at a higher level. You also get a better hearing from the funding community as they view you as a safe pair of hands.”
Your management team and board of advisors are the key to success
Your management team and your board of advisors (who could also be your investors), are the key to the success of your business. Once you have secured enough funding, it is important to ensure that your management team is ready to take up the challenges of working with a new company. Your team should understand that seeing a start-up turn into a full commercial success will involve more than just 9-5 work.
The Management team would also be wearing more than one hat, working both in the business and technology sides of the company.
At KantanMT, the management team has the drive, experience and innovation to scale our business model. Our Founder and Chief Architect, Tony O’Dowd is a serial entrepreneur and has over 25 years’ experience working in the localization industry. He previously held senior positions at Lotus Development Corporation, Symantec Corporation (Director of Technology) and Corel Corporation Ltd. (Executive Vice President).
In 2000, he founded Alchemy Software Development, the market leader in software translation memory solutions. Tony sold this business to the 2nd largest Localization Service Provider in the world, establishing KantanMT shortly afterwards.
Our Chief Commercial Office, Brian Coyle joined the team to strengthen the sales strategy of the company. He has 25+ years’ experience in senior sales and marketing management roles. Brian has worked on the commercialisation of products in the SaaS market with Kefron Document and Information Management Solutions and AccountsIQ, the specialist cloud accounting software provider. Brian holds an MBA from the Smurfit Business School University College Dublin, and is a member of Tekom, European Association of Technical Communication.
Don’t stop innovating and researching
While setting up a new enterprise will take up most of your time, it is important to keep innovating and improving your product. At KantanMT, we have successfully taken a sophisticated language technology, originally developed in academia and brought it to the mass market – from the school room to the board room so to speak.
However, we keep working with our academic partners like ADAPT Centre, DCU and Trinity College Dublin to stay on top of the latest innovations in our industry. Our research and development division, KantanLabs aims to combine world-class academic research expertise in the field with KantanMT’s leading translation technology.
The focus of KantanLabs is to advance core KantanMT technology by finding new and innovative methods for producing dramatic improvements in quality and speed.
Since its establishment in April 2016, KantanLabs has successfully completed one project in collaboration with the ADAPT Centre and Dublin City University (DCU). Additional projects will see KantanLabs exploiting neural network approaches for MT, focusing on hybridisation of Statistical Machine Translation and Neural Network Machine Translation.
We have been shortlisted for the ISA 2016 award for the Emerging Company of the Year category with 5 other innovative companies, who have overcome a lot of business challenges, and have emerged as very strong contenders for this award. We would like to congratulate all the shortlisted companies, and wish them the very best!
A little about the ISA Awards
The ISA Software Industry Awards celebrate companies that have achieved exceptional success, developed innovative technologies and partnerships and achieved significant sales results over the past year.
This annual flagship has gained an exceptional reputation as one of the most coveted Award ceremonies within the technology sector both in Ireland and overseas, with over 500 leading influencers and decision makers in the digital and software technology sector in attendance.
The winners will be announced on Friday, 25 November at a Gala dinner in the Mansion House. Members of the team who will be attending include, Tony O’Dowd, Noreen O’Dowd, Brian Coyle, Marek Mazur and Louise Irwin. Book your seat/table at the Gala Dinner.