[EXCLUSIVE] Interview with Tarjama Founder & CEO Nour Al Hassan, following acquisition of Captivate Arabia
1) Can you tell us a bit about Tarjama and what makes you unique?
I started Tarjama in 2008 after witnessing first-hand the need for a better way to offer language services. I saw an opportunity to provide better quality of translation and better services to clients and decided to make it happen from there.
Throughout the process, I tapped into what we refer to at Tarjama as “the gender-paradox”, where we noticed that women in the region were highly qualified and educated, however, lagged behind significantly in terms of joining the workforce. We realized the region has a wealth of talent and passion to offer but all we needed was to promote the flexibility that comes with the remote employment model.
What makes us unique besides that, is the fact Tarjama is a completely client centric and quality-obsessed company that strives to continuously offer the best service possible to our clients and partners in the domains of Translation, Content Creation, Language Technology and Content Advisory services.
2) What was the opportunity that you saw in acquiring Captivate Arabia and how does this acquisition affect your operations and strategy?
Media Localization, also referred to as Audio-Visual localization, is a booming sector within our industry. The likes of Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon prime, just to name a few, have created massive demands for the service, and Arabic is one of the key markets where large amounts of content is being localized.
With that in mind and given that Captivate Arabia is one of the region’s leading media localization service providers that supports some of the biggest regional and global entertainment and VOD players, this acquisition made a lot of sense for Tarjama. Combining Tarjama’s business and language expertise with Captivate Arabia’s talent and technical know-how will certainly be a win-win situation, whose impact will be tangibly felt by Tarjama’s clients but also partners.
3) What is your big picture vision for the future?
Further investment in technology. As a company, Tarjama is in a great position to innovate and create language technology products that solve real problems. Built from a deep understanding of the industry and the region, and with 11 years of language expertise combined with the data that we possess, there’s a lot that we can offer to our clients and partners.
We’ll be announcing and launching multiple language technology products in 2020 that are certainly going to put the company on a completely new level in the future.
4) What do you predict for the entrepreneurship scene in the technology sector in MENA in 2020?
I predict growth and scale as well as many exits.
The are endless funding opportunities in the region today and access to capital is becoming easier for businesses with great potential. Access to capital for startups is also becoming easier, opening up many doors for growth.
We could eventually see acquisitions from global players in the Middle East too.
5) If any, what challenges have you experienced as a woman in business during your overall career?
Whether you are a man or a woman, business will always be challenging. I don’t see it as a question of gender because it’s never easy to start something new. Growing Tarjama was indeed a tough journey, especially when it comes to financing and scaling, but with the help of a talented team and our experience in the fields of content creation and translation, we were given more leverage to grow and thrive.
6) What advice can you give female entrepreneurs and businesswomen who are looking to start their own business?
I would advise them to validate their idea really well before launching their own business. I would also advise them to bootstrap and to not raise capital quickly.
7) One of the biggest challenges start-ups face is acquiring new talent. Do you have any tips for other startups that you can share from your journey?
Choosing the right team is a make-it-or-break-it kind of move for any company. I think this is the most important tip that I can share from my journey. Choose your team wisely and invest in people who have great potential at an individual level but also for your startup’s future.
Skill development and trainings are also integral components of your company’s DNA in order to secure a stronger team.
For Tarjama, we chose Jordan as a talent hub as well as Egypt and Eastern Europe. We also chose Germany for the tech aspect of our business.
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