G2Local expands into Columbus market

Global to Local Language Solutions expanded into the Columbus area this winter, and has already snapped up a local government contract.

The translation and interpretation services provider −an established business in the Cincinnati and Dayton markets− was the first tenant at the Women’s Small Business Accelerator, having signed a lease there Dec. 14. The next day, the city of Columbus put out a call for Spanish and Somali interpreters− an unforeseen opportunity.

“We responded to the RFP, and that turned out favorably for us,” says Grace Bosworth, president of G2Local. “Some may say we got lucky, but I am constantly looking for signs that tell me I am on the right track. The way our path in Columbus keeps being laid out for us shows us that we are clearly right where we are supposed to be.”

In fact, the company plans to make Central Ohio its home base.

“It’s more reflective of where we think the majority of our business will be five to 10 years from now,” Bosworth says.

Of the 10 people G2Local is in the process of hiring, the majority will be working with the city of Columbus− at least initially. However, Bosworth says those 10 are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“We will need to grow to a network of approximately 200 interpreters in all kinds of languages to fully service the kind of business we intend to have by the end of the year,” she adds. “If you speak another language, we will have work for you.”

To learn what, and who, has helped Bosworth grow G2Local since its launch in 2009, keep reading.

The Metropreneur: What inspired you to start G2Local?

Grace Bosworth: I have always had a love of languages and I always knew I would start a business. After college, I was a trader at Fidelity Investments until a major layoff hit. I took a big risk and major pay cut to work with a small startup language services business. I was an essential part of what ultimately made that first startup successful, but I also saw how dysfunctional it was and some of the underlying problems. I knew I could do better.

Ultimately, I left the company, took some time off, traveled, and then came back to Ohio, getting right to work. G2Local had a relatively quick upward trajectory because I had a good plan in place and specific goals in mind. I also knew my industry very well.

Day after day, I get a feeling of being in the right place at the right time. I know this is what I am supposed to do be doing with my life. I am excited to see if I can change the language services industry for the better. I am focused on growing a successful and responsible company.

[M]: I would imagine that as our world our becomes more interconnected, translation and interpreting services will be more and more in demand. Have you seen an increase in demand through the years?

GB: There has been an incredible increase in demand. I don’t think the average person has any idea how many non-English speaking people are out there. Hospitals, cities, courts, and schools are paying big money for these services. However, the perception is that non-English speakers are illegal, and they are not. As much as Americans want to state that we should’t service non-English speaking peoples, the reality is that these populations are here to stay, and most of them are Americans.

We don’t focus on whether or not people should or should not speak English. We focus on how we can help the people in our cities, courts, and schools that do not speak English right now. Also, as the world globalizes, corporations need all kinds of documents translated to be able to reach new markets. There are all kinds of new consumers out there; a company can begin to touch potential customers by having a simple paragraph of their website translated.

[M]: The number of translators and interpreters you work with is impressive. How did you go about building that network?

GB: Job by job, day by day! Language services businesses have it easy now. When I started in this business a decade ago, we would do anything we could to find interpreters, like calling restaurants. It was the Wild Wild West of interpreting. These days, we have a couple of pipelines for interpreters, with our biggest pipeline coming from Catholic Social Services.

G2Local teaches a free English class in Cincinnati every Saturday morning. It is attended by refugees that Catholic Social Services sends our way. Our goal is to teach them English with a medical focus −our biggest need for interpreters is in Healthcare −and have them interpreting within six to nine months. Because the refugees sent to us are reflective of the larger populations within the city, we constantly have new languages being requested as new groups of refugees arrive and then their population grows.

Each year, groups like Catholic Social Services focuses on a new refugee group to bring into Columbus. In the last few years, we have seen Nepalese and Kirundi arrive in great numbers. By the time we start to see theses populations show up at the medical clinics we service, we already have interpreters trained and certified.

In addition, since the demand for more common languages, like Spanish and Somali, keeps increasing, we are constantly recruiting new talent. Interpreting is a flexible job that pays well. It is ideal for mothers or for people that want to supplement their income. We always have a stack of resumes; they come in almost daily.

We put the new recruits through extensive training and they generally eliminate themselves before they are ready to interpret, if the commitment is not there. Out of a class of 10, we may have two people that end up getting certified. Keep in mind too that we offer 250-plus languages! If we had a single interpreter in each language, we would still have a wopping 250 interpreters under our umbrella.

Interestingly enough, though, I know just about every interpreter personally. We genuinely care about our staff and we work hard to express our appreciation to our interpreters. Interpreters are often seen as disposable in other like companies. We don’t function like that at all. And interpreters pick up on that very quickly.

[M]: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a business owner and how did you overcome it?

GB: When we were getting started, the lack of funding was a major issue. We had no money! Because I was spending time around VCs and other investors, I had a lot of people telling me that I had to get a loan or get funding. We tried for one loan, at the height of the down economy, and we were turned down for it. I am so grateful we were turned down! I found myself thinking we would never get off the ground unless we got some influx of cash.

However, one day a friend/advisor of mine said to me, “Grace, you are a service-based business! No one is going to give you a loan! Give it up, you are wasting your time!”

Indeed I was spending a great deal of time doing presentations and business plans and loan applications. Looking for funding was a full time job. I stopped looking for funding and starting going after customers. I realized we didn’t need a loan, we needed a customer. We quickly got down to business and, when we shifted our focus just that little bit, something shifted overall. We put all of our energy into growing the business and, all of a sudden, it began to grow.

I tell the women I mentor this story all the time because banks are still not lending and your business might not be right for a loan. Forget about it, then, and focus on what you can change. It works!

To learn more about G2Local, visit GlobalToLocalLanguageSolutions.com.

Photo via Matthew Andrews Photography.