Welcome to our three-part series with Samantha Urban, CEO of Urban Translations, a CONNECT Springboard Graduate and Capital Match company. Urban Translations creates digital menu solutions for restaurants, hotels, and airlines to increase your bottom line and overall experience for management, staff, and guests.Before starting her own company, Samantha worked as a Patent Examiner, Software Engineer, and Project Manager – truly a jack of all trades. She now employs 15 people at her main office and has won awards for her innovation, including the She Innovates Award and CONNECT’s Capital Competition. In this post, Samantha tells us how she began and what it takes to make a start up a success.
Be on the lookout for needs in the industry
The idea for Urban Translations came to Samantha on a vacation in Brazil. “My friend and I went to 11 different restaurants and, not speaking Portuguese, we weren’t able to read any of the menus,” she says. Realizing that she probably wasn’t the only one having this issue, Samantha saw a need for a program to accommodate non-native speaking travelers such as herself. “The idea I had was a menu that comes to you in whatever language you speak, then digitally translates your order back to the language of your chef.” Back in the U.S., Samantha found that no such program existed, so she created one and thus Urban Translations began.
Once the company became more established, the idea expanded to include digital menus for hotel, resorts, casinos, airlines, and more. Even as the company is growing, however, Samantha still is careful to be aware of the needs in these industries. “Now that I am a CEO, I still make an effort to actually meet the people that Urban Translations will be directly helping. For example, when we installed our tablets at a resort recently, I met with room service employees to see how I could better fix problems that they currently have. I want to create something that is both helpful for employees and profitable for businesses.”
Know every aspect of your field
“My work history was basically training me to be a CEO someday,” says Samantha. Before starting her own company, Samantha worked as a software engineer, a project manager, and in the sales and marketing departments. Because she had experience in so many different fields, she was able to understand different aspects of running a business and how to do so effectively. This was helpful in the beginning stages of Urban Translations. “I was pretty much a one man show at the start and then hired my team over time.”
“I got a foot in the door for my first full-time project manager job by just talking to someone in an elevator,” said Samantha. “We exchanged business cards and the following week I had an interview.” This job was for MyYearbook.com, the third largest social media site at the time. “I learned so much in this job and it was during this time that I really started working on Urban Translations.” Samantha attributes the success of her company to this sort of networking and creating genuine and mutually beneficial relationships with mentors, advisors, and other businesses. “Cultivate and use relationships with those you meet,” says Samantha. “You definitely cannot create a start up on your own.”
Check back next week for Part Two of our series with entrepreneur Samantha Urban. Looking to launch your startup? Apply to our Springboard program here.