International Business Through Language Partners

September 23rd, 2008 Amir Posted in Affiliates, Business | No Comments »

Many businesses use local partners to sell in different countries, offloading all foreign language work and sharing revenue. This is just what GdP Software is doing.

GdP Software sells WatchFTP, a Windows program for synchronizing files between a local PC and a remote server. When WatchFTP was released it was available only in English. To increase sales they’re now offering it in German and are also working on a Spanish version. Here is an interview I held with Gert Rijs, the founder.

What does WatchFTP do and who uses it?

WatchFTP monitors FTP sites for new/changed/deleted files. It is typically used by companies who’s customers upload files to their FTP site. WatchFTP downloads these files and can trigger “follow-up actions” like sending an email or starting a batch script.

How long has the German version been around?

The German version was released at the same moment as the English version. Actually, it is one binary that will automatically adopt to the Operating System language. Currently, a new translator is working on a Spanish version of WatchFTP.

What are the language partner’s responsibilities?

  • Translation of Program (using Sisulizer)
  • Translation of website
  • “first line” customer support

How much more business is this adding?

WatchFTP is quite new. My experience with our other program (WatchDirectory) is that before we released a German version (English only), sales to Germany accounted for about 2% of all sales. Currently, German sales are ~20% of all sales (more than to the UK, for example).

How did you decide to begin with German?

My German translator, Dirk, was already a customer of mine. He e-mailed me a few years ago after a major release of WatchDirectory with a bug-report. We exchanged a few e-mails and I asked if he would be interested. He was.

Are you thinking about other languages?

After the great success of the German release, I was looking for other language-partners. However, one thing I learned from the German translation is that you really need a good toolset to support your translator with his translation. Our WatchDirectory program uses Tool-X (made up name) that isn’t very translator-friendly, so I put new translations “on hold” until I found a new tool to help with the translation. When we began building a new program (WatchFTP) I found Sisulizer. Sisu made the German translation very easy to do, so we used it for the new program. A future major release of our WatchDirectory program will also use Sisulizer for the translation.

How did you find your current partner?

I wrote to a Spanish customer if he would be interested to do the Spanish translation of WatchFTP (and in the future, WatchDirectory), and he agreed. He is currently busy with the translation, we expect to release the spanish website and program in a few weeks. A bit further in the future there will also be Danish versions of our programs.

How do you reward your international partner?

They receive 50% of their language sales (after the reseller fees etcetera). The company pays for all advertising etc.

Any great successes and failures on the way?

A few years ago I did try a Spanish version with a translator that wasn’t customers of mine. While good at Spanish (the country where he was born), he lacked the tech knowledge to properly translate the program. He was not really a computer user. I would recommend to only involve translators that

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are already familiar with your program (your customers, for example).

Who’s making the final decision regarding product features and marketing?

While I am “the boss”, my translators (who are also customers) often come up with feature requests. They forward emails from “their” customers.