September 26th, 2001 – Oxford University languages graduate Christian Arno registers his new translation company Lingo24 as an official business. Arno and a handful of home-based employees prepare to make their mark within the translation industry.
September 26th 2009: Lingo24 has 112 full-time employees working across four continents, clients in over sixty countries and an annual turnover of over US$6m.
So what happened in those eight years? And what was the inspiration behind what is now one of the UK’s biggest translation companies?
Let’s backtrack a little to 1999, when Christian Arno was on a year’s study at a university in Italy as part of his degree course. Along with a few friends, they decided to found a small online translation company called tgv24.com. The plan was to make a little beer money and perhaps make enough to help subsidize their studies.
They did not too badly as it happens. But it made Arno realize that there was genuine potential to build a serious online translation company. At the time, the Internet was still emerging and was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today. No translation companies were using the Internet to its fullest potential.
A Home-Based Business
After graduating in the summer of 2001, Arno decided to go for it and launched Lingo24, opting for the name because he planned to operate round-the-clock. He aimed to market his company entirely on the World Wide Web, something that no other translation company was doing at the time.
One of the key factors in Lingo24’s early success was that they were home-based. No premises meant no expensive overheads, and hence they could offer prices up to 30-percent less than established competitors. Furthermore, because Christian was based in his parents’ house in Aberdeen – one of the world’s most prominent oil and gas hubs – he was introduced to some big companies and won some big contracts early on. This initial growth spurt saw Arno take his business abroad, opening virtual, home-based operations in New Zealand in 2003 and then China in 2004.
With operations established across multiple time-zones, Lingo24 could now effectively manage projects ‘out of hours’, so to speak. When the UK closed for business, the project management reigns would be passed to a manager elsewhere in the world.
A major growth milestone occurred in 2005, when a main operational hub was opened in Timisoara, a small university city in Romania. With an excellent technical university and the city’s high degree of multilingualism, Lingo24 could recruit highly talented individuals and develop the next phase of Arno’s growth plans. It took its international operations further in January 2008 when it opened in Panama, another multicultural, multilingual country that also happened to already be an established service centre for the nearby United States. Lingo24 could now build its business in the lucrative North American market, and also offer an additional option for round-the-clock support for clients in other countries.
Its first physical office space was finally opened in August 2008, in the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh. A vibrant, multicultural city with several excellent universities, Edinburgh was the perfect city to establish its global headquarters.
Over the years, Christian’s drive and vision has also seen the company and himself shortlisted for numerous awards.
Navigating The World Wide Web
It’s also worth mentioning the role that online marketing has played in Lingo24’s rise from a small home-based business into an international multi-million dollar business. Search engine optimization has been a key strategy. A significant proportion of its revenue comes via search engines, through ranking highly on Google and other search engines for key search terms such as ‘translation services’, ‘legal translation services’ and ‘UK translation company’.
This year, Lingo24 expects sales to continue on an upwards trajectory. Predicted turnover is expected grow year-on-year by over 30 percent to well over US$7m.
Content for this post was contributed by Nora Zavalczki of Lingo24, and adapted and edited for publication here.