Welcome to Trading Places, a small-business series which takes a look at entrepreneurs who have successfully transitioned from working in the corporate world to founding their own business. If you have such a story you'd like to share, please email me.
When Richard Estevez was six years old, he started an enterprise named the Lucky Duck Club. His business rented pens and pencils to forgetful grade-school students and the going rate, he says, was five cents per day, paid up front. Looking back, he says his first start-up taught him a lot about the basics of business, such as keeping up with demand vs. inventory, dealing with depreciation of assets and maintaining customer satisfaction. It also instilled an entrepreneurial passion which, years later, he decided to fulfill on a higher level. Estevez was working as the executive vice president of telecommunications start-up Sky Online in 2003 when he thought of his own business idea. Before Sky Online, Estevez had worked as a lawyer for Washington, D.C.-based Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, where he managed translation outsourcing for the firm's international group. "I used to buy tons of Spanish translations for my clients," he says. "I remember specifically that the prices were crazy, like 25 to 50 cents per word, and the quality of the translations was mediocre at best." Being bilingual, understanding the translation market and having significant experience in telecommunications, the Internet and security of data, Estevez was confident he could offer a high-quality Spanish translation product at competitive prices. "I had every element I thought I needed to make this business successful," he says. Shortly after, he took the plunge and launched his own company.
Previous job: Executive vice president of a telecommunications firm Now: CEO, founder and owner of Trusted Translations
The transition: The difficulty, Estevez says, arose some time after he started his company, when he was trying to find additional people to help him run the business. "While I had a great core set of people, you realize quickly that you need more people to sustain growth," he says. "The faster you grow, the more you tend to hire people quickly without considering all the potential candidates ... and as any business owner knows, the people you hire can make all the difference, especially in a growth company."