New Direction of Venture

By: Liana Sherman

The initial social venture idea wound up not being the right direction for my efforts, as it proved incredibly difficult for me to reach one of the target beneficiaries–university students in Spain. After much thought and late nights, I decided to renovate the social venture in a way where I knew that I could begin to make an immediate and more likely impact. This meant having my social venture, which involved starting a translation company linking self-publishing authors with international university students currently studying in the United States (rather than in Spain). The aim is to better both groups by providing the writers with the opportunity of reaching an international market as well as offering international students a source of employment and way of earning credentials in the literary world. My social venture will utilize the bilingual capabilities of international university students by having those who I have trained translate and edit the literary writings of self-publishing writers who are interested in having their work reach global markets.

By starting at my own university, I will have a much stronger ability to develop the venture. Over the course of the past several months, I have mapped out what my plans include on launching this innovative version of my idea. Anticipated organizational partnerships include the Language Center at The George Washington University. The scope of the partnership will entail allowing me to have access to the international students who are currently employed or have had experience in working as a foreign language tutor. The tutors chosen by the Language Center will be good students to begin my social venture with, as the organization not only supports language teaching and learning and research, but also ensures that the students hired as tutors will provide the highest caliber language teaching.

Additionally, as the GWU Language Center provides a wide array of academic support for both faculty and students, I will be able to utilize the organization when seeking professors who are willing and able to assist in the initial training of the international students on the arts of translating and editing the translated works. Moreover, the GW Language Center offers English for Academic Purposes Writing Support Program, which provides service for GWU students with non-English backgrounds.

The tutors trained to provide focused support for non-native speakers and assist in educating on all stages of the writing process to work on audience, brainstorming, citation, drafting, evidence, grammar, organization and flow, outlining, paragraphing, revision, thesis, and tone. My social venture could utilize these tutors as they could help provide the initial education on editing written works. Other anticipated organizational partnerships include publishers and distributors such as Amazon and Smashwords.

This would be beneficial to these businesses as they could promote themselves by attracting attention to their partnership with a social venture (my social venture) that is helping combat worldwide youth unemployment as well as self-publishing authors. This would appeal to consumers as it provides a positive feeling knowing that one’s purchase is going to help address a prominent issue as well as attracting a larger market of international individuals who speak languages other than English. Partnerships like this are essential to my success, for they provide a way to interact with consumers and provide the market demand with the translated literary works.

An obstacle I am dealing with is the stress of classes and commitments in organizations and work. However, I am working through this time limit by reserving time each day to focus on working on detailing my new business plan and outline for how exactly I will launch the social venture.

I am applying to this year’s CGI U with this new direction to my venture idea.


Words Unlimited

By: Liana Sherman

I will begin first by implementing a program at my university in order to provide international students attending The George Washington University with the opportunity to benefit from earning money while living in a foreign country. This would help them find the means to afford attending school as well as offer the chance to obtain impressive work experience and be published as a translator and/or editor. By beginning with students that are studying in the United States, I will be able to demonstrate to the authors that there is a legitimate base of students that are easily accessible to communicate with. Then, when the international students graduate and return to their native countries, I will offer them the opportunity to continue working for Words Unlimited. Additionally, I will ask that the former students establish a branch of my venture at the universities of his or her nation. This will enable me to not only be able to achieve my goal of helping international students in their own distinct countries but also develop a strong foundation for the growth of my venture abroad by having an ‘alumni’ or experienced student head or start the branch. Moreover, this will expand my access to international students and add to the number of students that will benefit and be able to assist in the translating and editing of literary works. It will work because the international students that return to their native countries will have already had training by me in the United States. Strengths and unique aspects of my proposed solution include that it will enable my social venture to grow and have someone to train those in foreign countries. Also, the larger the number of individuals who are trained and able to translate and edit, the faster and more efficient works can be finished. Additionally, having a base in the foreign nation that is familiar with the writing will provide individuals who can promote the sales to the new market. This gives the original authors free publicity and additional exposure.

Potential risks that will affect my social venture’s success include if the translated literary work does not generate as much revenue as desired. I will work to prevent this from happening by utilizing the international connections to promote and advertise as much as possible the writings. Another challenge my venture will need to overcome is the question of whether to publish the translated editions on paper as well as electronically, because having the works printed poses the additional concerns on where to print them, ship them and distribute them. My venture will overcome this by first publishing the literary works electronically. By measuring the market demand for the works, Words Unlimited will assess whether or not it will be economically productive to offer the works on print. Treating each work as an individual assessment will increase my venture’s credibility and success rate as well as provide more likelihood for success. An additional risk that will affect my social venture’s success is the chance that self-published writers will be apprehensive about having their works translated by university-level students. I will attempt to prevent this situation by ensuring that the international students who will be doing the actual translating and editing are properly trained and that each initial translation undergoes significant review and editing in order to ensure a high quality of the finished product.

With regards to my experience at Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), it was an extraordinary experience that I found valuable and memorable. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to present my project at the CGI U Exchange Networking Event. This forum provided me the chance to share my venture idea, practice my pitch, and engage in discussion my commitment and answer thought-provoking questions. Two specific “aha” moments include my office hours with Donnel Baird and with Loretta Mayer. They were inspirational individuals within their specific fields and I gained insight into what success requires. Overall, this experience was worthwhile and I look forward to fully launching my commitment within the next two years!

I love oatmeal–specifically steel cut oats, my nutritious, delicious, low-cost breakfast. One Friday night on my way home, I remembered I needed more for tomorrow’s breakfast and I deviated from my usual shopping venue (the Whole Foods conveniently located next to GWU’s Foggy Bottom Campus) and instead, ventured into a different, large grocery chain, in a different part of the city. To my dismay, the store did carry steel cut oats—only instant oats, or rolled oats varieties. This wouldn’t do—and got me thinking—where do people in this part of DC go to get their steel cut oats?! Maybe they don’t eat steel cut oats? Do they not eat steel cut oats because they don’t like them? Because they can’t find them? Because they can’t afford them?