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CEO Spotlight: GALA talks to MultiLing CEO Michael Sneddon about the Company’s Recent Growth

By: GALA - MultiLing Corporation


15 August 2014

Patent translation service provider MultiLing was named one of the fastest growing companies in Utah by Utah Business magazine, having doubled its revenue over the past 5 years. We spoke with Michael Sneddon, the company’s CEO, about what might have contributed to MultiLing’s growth and how they expect to keep it going in the years ahead.

Name: Michael Sneddon
Company: MultiLing Corporation
Date Established: 1988
Location: Provo, Utah, United States
Company Phone Number: +1 (801) 377-2000
Company E-mail[email protected]
Company Websitehttp://www.multiling.com
Number of employees: 2000 employees and contractors worldwide

GALA: Before we begin, please tell us what your company does?

Sneddon: MultiLing, which began in 1988, is the innovative leader in IP translation and related services for foreign patent filings by Global 500 legal teams. The company defined, and continues to drive, foreign patent filing best practices, which include in-country native linguists, scientists, engineers and legal specialists who interact through processes and technologies that increase quality, consistency and on-time delivery. Clients include Procter & Gamble, Yokohama Rubber and Dow Corning. 

GALA: Michael, to what do you attribute MultiLing’s growth over the last few years?

Sneddon: We attribute MultiLing’s strong growth over the last few years to a few things:

  1. Pivoting our strategy to focus marketing and sales efforts on the intellectual property (IP) market, instead of diluting it between IP and technical translations.
  2. The increased demand for IP translations from Global 500 enterprises in the United States, Europe, and Asia, many spending millions of dollars per year on translating foreign patent filings. This increased focus on the IP space has required more understanding of the unique needs global enterprises face when aiming to protect their IP worldwide, as well as an enhanced ability to communicate how our unique streamlined translation model meets these needs.
  3. A stronger executive team that works together to make the right decisions for the company.

GALA: What challenges have come alongside strong growth for your company and how have you overcome those?

Sneddon: The increased request for our IP translation services over the past few years has required additional expert translators with specific language, scientific, engineering and legal skills, as well as project managers that also meet these needs. In addition, some of our largest clients (both new and long-term) have asked us to expand our services in specific countries in which they are increasing businesses, which in some cases has required new offices or expanded offices to prepare for the expected demand in the specific region. These requests require significant financial resources, and as a company with no debt whatsoever in an industry with long sales cycles, meeting these needs has sometimes been a challenge.  

To overcome these challenges, we made the decision last summer to bring in an outside investor – Frontier Capital – so we could focus on increasing our sales and marketing channels worldwide, which includes expanded language teams as well as new sales and marketing executives that better understand the needs of Global 500 legal teams across the globe.

GALA: What major initiatives/goals are in your company’s near future?

Sneddon: With our new office in Taiwan and expanded offices in Japan, Korea and China, we’re specifically expanding our Asian region capacity to meet the IP translation needs of both global enterprises wanting to do business in these countries as well as Asian-based enterprises wanting to do business worldwide.

We’re also working to expand our service offerings throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

GALA: What excites you most about your company’s future?

Sneddon: What excites me most about MultiLing’s future is how we’re continuing to bring together the right people, processes and technologies to give our clients the quality legal translations they require. In fact, we’re increasingly seeing new business from existing long-term clients as they share their continued satisfaction with other divisions within their organizations. 

GALA: What makes your company more than “just another” localization service provider?

Sneddon:  MultiLing focuses exclusively on IP translations and other foreign patent filing services, as opposed to broad translations. In addition, we combine the most qualified people (native speakers with advanced scientific/engineering degrees); the latest processes (centralized, streamlined) and the most recent and advanced technologies (terminology management, translation memory, machine-assisted translation and translation project management) to give our clients the high quality patent translations they require. Even more unique, we feel, is how we work closely with each client – many for more than a decade – to develop and refine best practices that work for them as well as the industry as a whole.

GALA: Are there any recent successful projects that you would like to spotlight?

A Japanese manufacturing company with more than 10,000 patents in its portfolio was spending more than 40 percent of its IP-related costs on patent translations, with frequent translation errors, clarity-related office actions and delayed time to grant. After considering cutting back on its patent efforts altogether, the company decided to switch from a local translation company using foreign agents to MultiLing in hopes of improving consistency and quality of translations; eliminating translation-related office actions; and reducing time to grant by three months (on average) and the translation cost of patent ownership by at least 10 percent. After moving to MultiLing, the company quickly reached these goals, realizing:

  1. Zero office actions related to translation or clarity
  2. Reduced time to get the translations back from the provider because it was able to leverage past translations
  3. Drop in total cost of patent ownership by 30 percent
  4. Decreased time to grant by an average of six months, leading to earlier revenues
  5. Increased scientific accuracy leading to scope protection and market potential.
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