THE ENTREPRENEUR behind one of the world’s biggest language technology companies is planning to raise funds to take advantage of growth opportunities in the global translation market.
Larry Gould is the founder and chief executive of thebigword, a £48m-turnover business based in Leeds with blue chip clients including Google, GE and Rolls-Royce as well as contracts to serve the UK and US governments.
The company is currently the 12th largest of its kind in the world.
Mr Gould told The Yorkshire Post: “We want to be in the top five. We can do it from Yorkshire using our headquarters as a base and we can do it by raising money to buy other companies, both competitors and technology companies, and adding them to our group.
“In the next year we are moving forward with our plan and are confident we can do it, for three major reasons.
“One, the market is growing. Two, the technology that we have created we know would change our competitors if it were applied to them. Three, we have invested in a management team in readiness to deal with growth.”
He said there are huge opportunities in the highly fragmented international market for translation services with tens of thousands of small players and a few big players like the listed SDL and Lionbridge.
Mr Gould, who is a youthful 63, said: “What’s happening now in the market is the appetite for translation is growing so much.
“At the same time there is demand for high, high speed and that is a challenge for the smaller organisations without the technology and an opportunity for the larger organisations with the technology. That’s where I think we are.”
He said growth in translation services is being fuelled by the internet, which has opened up access to goods and services with language “the final barrier”.
Mr Gould said: “The access to markets outside the UK has never been better than it is now. In the EU to be able to trade is so easy.
“To be able to communicate using the internet and such things as Skype is making trading so much better than before.
“The markets outside the UK are huge. We are encouraged because we are seeing our clients doing really well because they are not relying on one market.
“As economies change all over the place, you have got that advantage of going different places.
“Global companies won’t really deal with you unless you can offer a global service. Companies like GE that we work with, and IBM and HSBC, they really want somebody that’s got a global presence.”
The company has offices in regions including the US, China, Japan, Germany, Finland, Sweden, South Africa and Brazil. It has 600 employees and works with 12,000 linguists in 73 countries.
Mr Gould founded the company in 1980. His three grown-up children, Joshua, Ilan and Dalya all work in the business. The family owns 100 per cent of the shares.
Mr Gould said there are lots of advantages of being based in Leeds. He added: “First of all, the feed from the universities in Yorkshire, not just Leeds but Bradford, York, Huddersfield and all the different places over 35 years is exceptional. Talent is great.
“Second, Leeds has become such an attractive place to work. 20 or 30 years ago it was hard to encourage people to come here, they didn’t want to work here.
“But Leeds now is a vibrant place to live and we are finding that attracting people, especially talented people from other European countries, is becoming easy. The market here is growing very fast.
“The range of people from technology to customer services are available here. That’s why people like Google are coming to this area.”
In March, the US tech giant launched Digital Garage in Leeds, the first of five workshops in a multi-million pound UK initiative to offer a range of free educational services to SMEs.
Mr Gould said he is seeing Yorkshire companies being very adventurous and entrepreneurial and winning business in international markets.
“Of course, the more they win, the better it is for us,” he added.
The company is sponsoring Exporter of the Year category in The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards, which celebrates international success among Yorkshire companies.
Businesses are encouraged to submit their entries via www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/awards before the deadline of July 11.
The awards ceremony takes place in Leeds on October 14 and features Archbishop of York John Sentamu as headline speaker.
What makes a good entrepreneur?
A good entrepreneur can analyse a situation, is not afraid to take calculated risks and is hungry to succeed, according to Larry Gould.
The chief executive of thebigword said entrepreneurs “lust after” achievements such as building companies big enough to float on the stock exchange or buy other businesses.
They might be driven to make money initially but as they become more successful they are driven by “scores” such as how many yachts or homes they own, he added.
“They are all scores that entrepreneurs lust after,” said Mr Gould, who grew up in Leeds and attended Allerton Grange School in Moortown.
He sold his recruitment business to a US firm in a multi-million pound deal in 1996.