Today we have selected Brandon Paton to take his interview. He is the CEO of Localize.
How are you and your team doing in these times of COVID 19?
In general, the pandemic adds stress to people’s lives for various reasons. Because we’re a remote team, it hasn’t impacted our work environment – we were 100% remote before COVID and set up to work under those conditions.
However, I know that it’s been a little more challenging during the pandemic for some team members, especially those with kids in school, so we try to accommodate changes in schedules and be as supportive as possible when team members are dealing with related issues.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?
I came up with the idea for Localize back in 2014. I was working as an engineer at Verbling, a language learning company. Verbling naturally had people visiting the company website who were learning English, and the entire website and web applications were built in English.
As you can imagine, English learners coming to an English language learning website will have a challenging experience. The need for a more customer-friendly web experience prompted an initiative to translate the site & app into multiple languages. This project was my introduction to localization & translation, and it piqued my interest.
As I went through the process, I realized how time-consuming and repetitive the work was. So much so that I was able to watch Netflix on one screen while doing the translation work on another screen. The fact that you could watch Netflix while doing localization work while being paid a developer salary was a big ‘aha’ moment. And it was around the same time that Optimizely gained notoriety.
How does your company innovate?
When I think about how our company innovates, the first word that comes to mind is “collaboration.” We’ve always been very collaborative and transparent in working on projects. Having diverse viewpoints in a highly collaborative environment helps us innovate.
Hearing different ideas and leveraging and acting upon them promotes creativity and innovation. And I think as we continue to grow and bring different experiences and backgrounds into the conversation, this will only increase.
We also encourage people to participate in learning activities, take courses, and hone their skills. We try to promote this through company incentives and reimbursement. We want people to go out and discover and continue to grow because it helps them think outside the box rather than within the constraints that bind them.
A few years back, when our small team thought about what to build or how we could do things, it seemed to be within the confines of where we were at that moment. We had to learn to think beyond our constraints and say, “Well, forget those boundaries and obstacles.
Let’s say we had all the resources available and more people. What could we do? What would we be doing? Sometimes, those kinds of conversations can help spark more innovative thinking.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
In terms of our business, we didn’t lose many customers during the pandemic. There might have been a handful of clients whose businesses unfortunately closed, but it wasn’t a significant impact in terms of revenue. The pandemic spurred additional opportunities for us. We gained clients in the healthcare industry and a few customers who created businesses during the crisis.
However, our biggest challenge from the pandemic has occurred in the hiring landscape. While we were already a remote-first company, many organizations started working from home because of the pandemic. As a result, people and companies began to think about working differently.
So while we were already hiring remote workers, this new dynamic has turned the hiring landscape upside down. Today, we have competition that wasn’t there before, which has made our hiring more challenging.
We’ve had to get a little more creative with our hiring practices. We’re also paying particular attention to retention by ensuring that we care for our people. We prioritize having a great company culture that keeps people engaged. Toward this end, we’ve started an Activities Committee that hosts virtual happy hours, games, and contests to give people an opportunity to connect and engage outside of work and to build relationships.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Honestly, I don’t think we’ve faced difficult choices during the pandemic. If we had a brick-and-mortar business, I think there would be a lot of tough choices. But I can’t think of any that are relevant to our company. We were well-positioned to handle the crisis because we were already remote and had the systems in place for a distributed workforce.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
We benefit from collaboration tools that help us communicate and manage work remotely. We use tools like Slack, JIRA, and Notion to help us collaborate and ensure everybody’s staying on task. And of course, we leverage Google Meet and Zoom as channels for communicating.
I think it’s essential that managers have their pulse on what’s happening at both the company and individual levels. One of the things that we’ve found helpful is to have regular one-on-ones with employees. It doesn’t have to be every week for everybody, but we check in at least once a month to engage in a dialogue and listen to feedback.
I also think it’s essential to be mindful as the team grows. Exercising mindfulness and being aware isn’t a COVID-specific exercise, but something I find important generally. As we’ve added more people to the team, our cadence and how we do things have also changed.
We need to be alert to how changes affect different departments and individuals. We want to ensure we still include people in conversations and not assume people know what is happening. We want to avoid having team members work in silos, which can be a problem with remote teams.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
We have a few competitors, but some more notable names include Lokalise, Smartling, and Transifex. Our goal is to continually differentiate ourselves and stay one step ahead in the marketplace. Dedicated customer success is a key component in that effort, as that function keeps us informed on what customers want to see in our software.
But the biggest differentiator? Many of our competitors require a file-based translation workflow, which made my Verbling work so mind-numbingly tedious. We believe that if you are using files to translate your web projects, you’re doing it wrong. That’s why we provide customers with a solution that’s easy to install and maintain through automatic deployment, significantly reducing the complexities of localization.
- Spokesperson: Brandon Paton
- Company: Localize
- Website link: https://localizejs.com/