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Interview with the Executive: Frédéric Fausser of Samba Digital

In a year where we all have felt far apart, Frédéric has worked tirelessly to bring us together through language.  Frédéric Fausser is the CEO of Samba Digital, a digital sports agency with top clients like PSG, Formula 1, Ligue1, Orlando Magic, Bundesliga, Juventus, Everton. Sports Translate is the newest focus of Frédéric and Samba Digital. 

This sports-centric platform is poised to be a game changer in the communication limitations in the industry.  Focusing on the nuances and lingo specific to different sports, the sports industry, and regional language specificities, Frederic says the sky is the limit with this innovative platform.  The platform has a seamless design, making it easy to use, but is also accessible to anyone in the business. Sports Agent Blog sat down with Frédéric and discussed Sports Translate.

SAB: If you could tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to found Sports Translate?

Frédéric Fausser: I’m French, but I have lived in Brazil for about 10 years. SAMBA DIGITAL is a digital agency specializing in sports. We have an international sports brand to increase our clients’ visibility worldwide. Through digital strategies, content campaigns, and influencers we can help a sports brand really grow outside their domestic market. We are not really useful for Liverpool in England, but we are really relevant for them, for example, in Brazil, throughout Latin America, and in the U.S. As well as in some Asian countries. So, this is really our main focus, Sports Brand Internationalization. 

SAB: Are there any specific sports you are focusing on right now?

FF: Yes, we work with about 20 soccer teams and federations.  Soccer is an important business for us. Most of our clients are in Europe. We are also working with rugby, and with the NBA. For instance, the Orlando Magic is growing in Brazil, because Orlando has a large Brazilian population, with a lot of Brazilian people watching NBA games.  We also work in cycling and tennis, but mainly soccer. But we want to be a true global agency, so it does not matter the sport. We want to be generalists.

SAB: Can you tell me what went into the development of the Sports Translate platform and when it will go live?

FF: This is so special. It is an online platform using the software as a Saas model. So, it’s accessible through your browser, your smartphone, and tablet. We are officially released, but we started working on this project in March [2020]. So during that time, we involved a lot of our clients.  It was quite easy because we were already in the market and working with top sports brands, and it was really useful to be able to add new features, adjust the platform, and to have real feedback from the market. We might have just launched last week, but we already had some clients on our beta version like Formula 1, the French Football league, and Belgium clubs. Sports Translate is really a tool for us to work with any kind of sports entity.

SAB: Why do you think it took so long for someone to come up with this because I mean we’ve all heard about people trying to use Google Translate to communicate with their clients? This sounds like it is much more conversational, which would make it easier to use and communicate.

FF: Yes, it’s a good question to be honest. We are the first real added value in that obviously you have a lot of translation platforms all over the world. There are big ones in the US, Europe, but they are not specializing in sports. You know, they cover several industries, but what we are selling is a database of translators today who are sports experts, not only for digital marketing or communication, but also for legal, for medical, for finance. It opens a lot of doors if someone has a question. Also regarding a sports agency, this platform could be really easily used by sports agents. Why? Because first, we don’t have any fees or licenses to use a platform.

So you can access it for free, then you pay only per minute for video subtitling, or per word for document translating. So you can really translate any kind of data, it can be $100 or $50 or $1,000.

SAB: You can use it as you need it.

FF: Yep exactly. We don’t have any restrictions in terms of small leagues, teams, anybody can use it. A lawyer, a sports agent, an event. So this is really new in the market because traditionally when you work with translations, you need to work with a translation agency. You need to sign a contract, you need to sign maybe a one-year contract, six-month contract, but I think Sports Translate is really new because it offers anybody in the sports market to have access, readily and easily in a few minutes to produce content localization. 

SAB: Do you see this developing beyond sports? I mean you said outside of agencies and agents specifically into lawyers, doctors, everybody. But do you see any movement toward an app instead of a web-based platform? Is that the direction you think you would go next

FF: Yes, if it is a requirement from the client or the market, we will improve on features, or propose new features.  We really think that part of the job we are performing today is really manual and through community managers. We can certainly centralize some tasks in the platform. So, for example, why not think about translating automatically? But we are not thinking about introducing a Google translator kind of thing. We are still really human-oriented because the quality for us is really important. When you want to work with, you know, big brands, Formula 1 and big soccer teams, you need to provide specialized information. You need to provide proof reading. You need to provide coordinators and we of course coordinate on the platform to be sure that we deliver with quality, on time. So yeah, as I said now, I think that the focus will be really our traditional core strategy and try to create a gateway or link between both business and sports.

SAB: The thing that’s lost a lot of the time when translating is it’s always so formal. There are things specific to every language, nuances, especially in an industry like sports. I would think that you would lose, meaning and stuff in Google Translate. 

FF: Yeah, for sure on that. You’re totally right. Imagine for example I am a fan of soccer, but I don’t know anything about American Football, or cricket, or rugby, so we also understand that we need to build a qualified database of translators specialized in specific sports. You know, so it’s not only being specialized in sports because sports can be really broad.  It is key to have native translators in their own markets, who are experts in their local culture, and are knowledgeable sport by sport.  It is not easy.  This is a big objective, but exciting, an exciting objective. 

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