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Madhuri Hegde

Interviews

In-depth analysis of Industries and companies and how they manage complex and
demanding business environment.

Profile image: 
Madhuri Hegde
Company Name: 
Mayflower Language Services Pvt. Ltd.
Face to Face Description: 

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. With her knowledge and strategic approach, she has driven the reach of Mayflower to Fortune 500 companies in over 20 countries across the globe. 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.

Questions & Answers: 
Question: 
What is it that made you pick such a niche field? How big is the opportunity in this domain?
Answer: 

European clients were averse to doing business with Indian firms due to language and communication challenges. This proved to be a huge loss for Indian companies in terms of business opportunities despite having immense capabilities. Much need help was required to succeed in markets outside India. This need for language services in a fast growing economy was effectively spotted and as they say, the rest is history - Mayflower Language Services was set up 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.

Question: 
What was the role that your own personal experience and expertise in this space played, in enabling you to set up such a venture?
Answer: 

The familiarity with software localization started during her years in Paris - her fascination for different cultures and languages, and experience in international business. All these, gave her insights into global business challenges. Above all, the commitment to enable Indian companies to prosper and grow outside India, helped create Mayflower.

Question: 
What exactly do customers ‘outsource’ to you and do you face confidentiality issues?
Answer: 

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, to finding a multilingual resource for knowledge acquisition in a different geography and simultaneous interpretation for teams distributed in various countries. They have also helped many clients take their products and games to the global market. For instance, they have localized a mobile app in 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 are paramount. Most of the time, they deal with the client’s core product or highly confidential and sensitive data. Handled with all seriousness, there are relevant systems and measures in place to pre-empt confidentiality issues. All processes are continuously monitored, audited, and certified by internal and industry bodies.

Question: 
What were some of the key challenges that you faced when getting into the market? How did you overcome them?
Answer: 

When Mayflower was founded, 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, they had limited access to financing and skilled manpower. Plus, a male-dominant society made things much more challenging. Sacrifices were expected at every step, including at the home-front!

In the initial years several client meetings were held in remote factories, and often Madhuri was the only woman in the vicinity. Most people were not accustomed to seeing Indian women sit shoulder-to-shoulder with men and discuss business. There were frustrating moments when she wasn’t taken seriously enough and the image of a “young girl” worked at cross-purposes. Sometimes the questions could even be pesky - if she had a male business partner they could talk to. To counter this line of thinking, she hired a male salesperson to attend meetings and soldiered on. Finally, the assertiveness and persistence paid off. Today, they work with over a 1,000 clients across 20 countries.

Question: 
What would you say is the key value add and differentiator that you bring to the customer’s table? What are the strengths that you have had to build on since inception?
Answer: 

The learning is actually an accumulation of 14 years of industry experience through four business units that are unique, streamlined and specific to the individual services on offer. Termed as, Centers of Excellence in the areas of Localization, Translation, Multimedia, and Staffing. And a key differentiator, as it is unique and rare to find in this segment. The other differentiator is the leverage from Innovation and Business Intelligence investments. No other competing language service provider has a strong structure and forward-thinking investments as Mayflower, a constant effort to stay ahead of the curve.

Over the years, they have achieved high scalability, quick access to subject-matter experts, and have adopted technology for automation. These directly add value to 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.

Question: 
What would you say is the impact of SMAC and Digital on the business that you do? How is it expanding the opportunity for you?
Answer: 

SMAC brought in a big change in the industry and rendered smartphone usage with 24/7 connectivity which made real-time collaboration so much easier. Social media particularly, is also being leveraged to a large extent for crowd-sourcing, which means faster turnarounds and higher scalability.

Most tools in use are moving to the Cloud and processes are getting automated, thus improving significantly, the ease of conducting business and creating more opportunities. Mobile learning is also catching on very quickly and opening up new avenues of business. IoT clients get language translations for wearables and connected devices. Also, Big Data and neural networks are being leveraged to automate translations. The opportunity is expanding and will continue to do so over the next few years.

Question: 
How are you achieving scale and leveraging some of these disruptive technologies to deliver your own offerings?
Answer: 

Mayflower has grown over the past year by more than 60 percent by leveraging technology and automating the processes.

  1. They provide customized machine translation engines to clients with specific needs. Aids in processing large volumes of content in a short period of time.
  2. Develop API connectors for integration of content management and translation management systems, thus automating the localization lifecycle.
  3. They streamline localization automation for the internal processes of clients

Currently they are in the midst of building an online translation portal and looking forward to leveraging advancements in neural networks in the near future for further increase in scale and value.

Question: 
In terms of revenue mix, what are your most sought after solutions?
Answer: 

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.

Question: 
What are the kind of companies that are approaching you for services? Are SMEs on your radar as well?
Answer: 

IT and ITES, Pharma, Automotive, Manufacturing, Advertising, BFSI, Lifesciences, Telecommunication, eLearning, Media, and Legal sectors are certainly the prominent ones. Being sensitive to SME needs, there’s a special package for start-ups to make their products available in European, Asian, and local Indian languages at interesting price points.

Question: 
10.What are the company’s future plans both in terms of products/services and global footprint?
Answer: 

To support international clients, they have offices in the US and Europe, including strategic alliances in Poland and Romania, which gives them access to the European market. They are building ties in the APAC region too. They are the translation partner for the e-commerce platform eUnimart, to help Indian merchants sell outside India. Currently, they are on the lookout for technology partnerships in 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.