Today's entrepreneur interview is with Jani Penttinen, founder-CEO of translation scaleup Transfluent. Let's hop right in!
1. Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I didn’t choose to become an entrepreneur. I was a game developer with a successful career and I was happy with my job. Then one day the company decided to close down the studio where I was working. They offered me a chance to move to another location, but I quit. I interviewed with many companies, but somehow I started feeling that I want to be in control of my life. I didn’t feel like joining another team and building their products, I wanted to create something on my own.
2. What are you like as an entrepreneur?
I like being able to create new, build things. Since earlier in my life I was a game developer, I feel that building a company in many ways resembles building a large-scale software project like a game.
3. What makes the story of your personal career interesting?
I think the fact that I have founded companies in 4 countries on 3 continents is quite special. I’ve built a game company in China. I’ve started a social networking company in Switzerland. I started Transfluent in Finland and later started a subsidiary for it in the US.
4. What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
I think there are many, depending on which part of my career you look at. As an entrepreneur, I think being able to build a company like Transfluent is a major achievement. Starting a company, managing it through the early days and guiding its growth past 1 million euros in revenue is something I am proud of. And of course, this is just the beginning!
5. What is your biggest professional blunder?
I have made many mistakes during the life cycle of Transfluent, but so far, I’ve managed to turn those into learning experiences. I think one of the most embarrassing moments was when I got a chance to meet with Jared Leto, Hollywood actor and the lead singer of a mega-popular band called 30 Seconds to Mars. Only at the time I didn’t know about the band. I knew he was a big movie star, so when I mentioned that he also has a band, I was kind of like “oh yeah, I also used to play in a band”.
He told me to go do some homework and talk to him again after that. And I did as he told.
Fortunately, he was cool about it and invited me to his home, and we became friends. When the band released a new album, Transfluent had a big role in the launch as we translated all their social media communication to over 10 languages. In the end, the blunder turned out well.
6. What is your dream for your company?
I feel we are making a big difference in the world. We’re making translation much more accessible for businesses, which hopefully results in more and more people being served in their own language. I want us to be the biggest translation company in the world.
7. Who is your role model and why?
I admire strong visionary entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. They have built companies that are reshaping the world we live in, which is the biggest accomplishment any entrepreneur can dream of.
8. What motivates you?
I am driven by the knowledge that we are making a difference every day. I am very motivated by the fact that I know we can do this. I know that failing is up to us, there is no real reason why we would not be able to build Transfluent into the kind of company we want. It is an amazing feeling to know that anything is possible if you try hard enough.
9. Why crowdfunding and why with Invesdor?
We are one of the pioneers of crowd-based work in Finland, and I think the interest towards crowdfunding follows naturally from that. I like the idea of having many shareholders joining the journey. I would love for Transfluent to become “everyone’s translation company”. Most people out there have no first-hand experience with translation providers, it’s a pretty alien world to them. I think we would do a lot of good to the industry if we were able to make translation companies more approachable and easier to use.
10. Why would you invest in your company? Give three reasons.
One: I would invest in myself and my vision. I really do believe in the vision of Transfluent.
Two: The team that has built and operates Transfluent is really amazing. These people are not only talented but also have their hearts in the right place. I love how everyone stands behind the same principles of respecting our customers and translators, and finding ways to always improve.
Three: Translation is a big industry that is in need for disruption and we have a solution that is proven to work. The time to act is now.
Want to read more about Transfluent? Check out their pitch at https://www.invesdor.com/en/pitches/816