Manual.to navigates the murky waters of multilingual manuals

Start it @kbc

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Manual.to navigates the murky waters of multilingual manuals

Technical manuals are horrible to read, a hassle to write, and usually require plenty of resources as they’re offered in a plethora of languages. No more, said Manual.to, as the startup started working on a platform to simplify the technical hassle surrounding these useful content pieces. We talked to Jorim Rademaker, who’ll happily take us through his startup journey.

“Manual.to actually started as something else entirely,” he laughs, “We wanted to create an online platform for children’s stories, which parents could access in any language. So in a way, content and multilingualism were always essential to our journey. But before the product was even finished, we discovered the value of multilingual technical manuals. We all need them, we all lose them, and we all waste way too much time tracking them down.”

It turned out to be an essential pivot for the startup, which was started by Rademaker in 2015 and truly picked up in 2016. It is the year he added Bart Meyskens as a partner, and Tom De Coninck as a partner and CTO, and it is the year the startup snagged its first client.

Getting the ball rolling

“Once we hit stride, we turned to Start it @kbc to validate our business idea,” explains Rademaker, “Joining an accelerator is great: you’re constantly surrounded by like-minded, entrepreneurial people and you are coached, mentored and inspired on a daily basis. It’s where we cultivated our business model and honed our mission and vision.”

Manual.to’s mission is clear: to become a market leader in multilingual online manuals in order to simplify workspaces all across the globe. Their main target audience is multinationals, as evidenced by their current client base. Juggernauts like Siemens, ISS, Proximus and Newtech are counted among the company’s clientele.

It all boils down to the right people

“You know what’s interesting,” Rademaker notes, “Our core business is technology but our biggest struggle isn’t technical at all, it’s all about people. Finding the right co-founders was a tremendous challenge when I started the company, and finding the right employees is still one of the most difficult things I deal with today. I want people to be passionate. I want them to complement the existing team. I want them to have a diverse skill set. Finding the right developers is of vital importance to me.

Another major hurdle is, ironically, also about people. Our sales team is often slowed down because they’re still trying to figure out whom to target within any given company. The companies we work with are huge, and finding the right person who can actually give a go on a certain project has proved to be quite the adventure. On top of that, larger companies tend to be bogged down by bureaucracy, which also significantly slows our entire sales process.”

A bright future

The company has no plans of slowing down, however. “I’m ready to perfect our product and to conquer global markets,” Rademaker says, “Manual.to’s strength lies in its simplicity, and it overjoys me to see how huge global clients are starting to use it all across their companies. It makes me proud and it shows that our strategy works. We’ve chosen to focus on sales first and improve our product as we go. Because what’s the use in building the perfect product if nobody knows it exists?”

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