What does the future hold for The Open Mic?

  • Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

    You know, from the very first moment when I started building The Open Mic I wanted to embrace transparency.

    Honesty and open communication is one of our biggest values and it really makes The Open Mic special.

    When I look at other companies in the translation industry, I’m scared.

    I’m scared because over the past few decades everything has been so corporatized and dehumanized that I often feel like I’m dealing with one gigantic machine that was created with one goal only: generate profit at all costs.

    And maybe it’s not a bad thing. I mean, when you’re a company,you need to focus on your profits.

    But you also need to focus on your customers too. You know, your fellow human beings.

    And since we’re all in the business of human communication and interaction sharing everything always felt like a natural way of doing things to me.

    Maybe, I’m just crazy, but I think more companies need to embrace transparency in business and start showing their human side.

    That’s why, in the spirit of sharing and being transparent about everything we do on The Open Mic, I’d like to share what I’m planning to do this November.

    Not so many people know that, but November 1 would mark one year since The Open Mic was open to the public.

    It’s a huge milestone for us and for me personally. This project has changed my life and opened up so many opportunities I didn’t know existed.

    But most importantly it helped me unleash my creativity and just be myself and do what I love.

    It was a fun little adventure that might as well turn into the adventure of a lifetime.

    You see, I have so many wonderful ideas. I want to continue developing The Open Mic. I want to continue creating something valuable for the translation community.

    Because I believe that this project is very important for our profession and it really helps us move our profession forward.

    That’s why on the 1st of November I will be launching a donation campaign to support the future development of The Open Mic.

    It will be a pivotal moment for The Open Mic. It will either make or brake me.

    But I want to give it a try because I believe in this project and I know that I can count on the wonderful people of our community.

    I’ve been supporting The Open Mic all by myself, investing thousands of dollars over the past year.

    No one asked me to do this, of course, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.

    Unfortunately, my family has been under a lot of financial pressure, lately (my parents are forced to sell their apartment and I want to step in to not let that happen).

    Plus, my income hasn’t changed much since last year because I spend too much time on The Open Mic, instead of finding new clients (like normal people do).

    That’s why I decided that donation campaign is the most logical thing to do.

    My goal is to raise at least $80,000. This will help me cover the costs of hiring developers to build new features that I have in mind (more on that will be shared on November 1).

    I think it’s a realistic goal and if every registered member and active site visitor donates $24 we will reach this goal overnight.

    I hope you don’t mind that I shared it with you. I just wanted to be totally honest and transparent about the future.

    It’s really important to me that we stay on the same page. After all, The Open Mic is impossible without you and you deserve to know where it’s heading.

    If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, feel free to leave your comments.

    I’d be happy to hear from you.

    Thank you so much for reading this and thank you for being The Open Mic member.

    You rock!

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    Dmitry Kornyukhov

    About Dmitry Kornyukhov

    Founder of The Open Mic. Video game localization specialist. I help video game developers, game publishers and localization studios bring their projects to the Russian-speaking gaming community.

    9 thoughts on “What does the future hold for The Open Mic?

    1. You really shouldn’t be doing this, Dmitry. If Open Mic is taking up too much of your time, by all means scale it back, but don’t get the begging bowl out. Why not? Because (at least as far as I know) you’re not an official charity organisation, and that means there really is no openness or accountability about what you’re going to spend the money on. It’s a huge sum – far more than any normal website would cost – so I think your donors have a right to be sure. On top of that, do you really think it is ethical or reasonable to ask colleagues to fund something that amounts to a personal hobby? And then there’s the image you’re projecting. Asking colleagues for cash doesn’t make you look very successful or professional, does it? Obviously everyone is free to spend their money as they wish, but I, for one, won’t be parting with mine.

      1. Those are valid points, Simon. And you’re absolutely right, I’m NOT successful, and projecting an image of a successful translator is not really what I’m after.

        I want to build something that will be much more than just a hobby. To do that, I need serious financial investments.

        I see no shame in asking for money from people who’re already here. Who appreciate the time that I invest into this project. Who actually have registered for an account and see how much work has been done to date. There’s a big difference between a begging bowl and supporting the development of a software company.

        I understand that accountability will be an issue, that’s why in the post that I’ll publish on the first of November I’ll explain how the money will be spent (a simple system of milestones) and how much of the funds will go to my pocket.

        $80,000 is not a large sum of money, really. I know companies who spend much more than that. My decision is based on the cost of services of good web-developers. And their services come at a price (just like the services of good translators).

        I think The Open Mic has a lot more to offer and with the help of the community we’ll be able to get there.

        More importantly, I think this approach is much better than making something for free than dropping paid memberships on members and limiting functionality like some other companies do.

        It takes a lot of guts to even think about it let alone do this, but I think it’s the right decision no matter what the outcome would be.

        I understand that a lot of people would disagree, but it’s perfectly fine by me. I won’t think less of someone only because they didn’t support the project. We’re all grownups here and we all free to make our own decisions.

      2. IMHO, scaling back (which would probably mean closing the website down) would be a betrayal of 2,000 registered translators and 6,000 people who visit The Open Mic every month. So there’s no turning back. Full steam ahead!

    2. Thanks for your replies Dmitry. You still seem rather confused as to whether the Open Mic is a business, a community, something you do in your spare time or a charitable venture undertaken for others. None of this would be important if you weren’t asking for money, but, of course, once you do, very different criteria apply depending on which it is. If it’s a business, for ecample, people will be investing and should expect some return on their money. On the other hand, if it’s a charity run for the benefit of others, there is, as you say, no shame in asking for donations. You really need to make this clear when you give your full explanation.

    3. This is so problematic on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin.

      First, there’s what Simon said. If this is a community, then donations are OK. But there’s something in your language that seems to indicate you’re building this up to a full-blown business. If that’s the case, then you’re trying to turn users into investors and you will need to account for what you do with their money.

      While making something free and then “dropping paid memberships on members and limiting functionality like **some other companies do**” (notice your use of **some other companies**) makes users feel cheated, so does presenting something as a community and yourself as a server of that community when what you’re obviously aiming at is something radically different.

      If you don’t make this clear to your users soon, you risk coming across to them as a fraud.

      Second, you mention your parents and their apartment. How is this relevant? Will our donations be used to help your parents keep their apartment? If that’s the case, then we’re back to the charity problem Simon pointed out. TOM is not a charity. And if you’re going to use people to solve your personal problems, again, then that raises questions about TOM and about you.

      Third, you admit to being an unsuccessful translator and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that (other than the obvious strategy issue and how that makes you look to potential clients). But you also claim that part of the reason why you are unsuccessful is because you spend most of your time developing TOM and TOM is cutting into your personal finance. This basically tells me you are not only terrible at managing money, but you don’t have your priorities straight either. So why should I give money to someone who admittedly doesn’t know how to manage his time or resources and who prioritizes a hobby over work when he has a family that is struggling financially?

      I’m not trying to burst your bubble, Dmitry. But this post of yours raised some major red flags.

      1. Thank you so much for your comment, Paula! I really appreciate that you’ve shared your concerns.

        Let me try to explain it better.

        “you will need to account for what you do with their money.”

        Absolutely! I will explain this in the follow-up post. In short I’ll use a portion to cover my own personal expenses and the rest will be spent on the expenses that are associated with The Open Mic (hosting, paying for 3rd party services like mailchimp, ticksy and buffer, paying the developers to develop new features). We already have a page where I share our expenses and I think I’ll update it even further to include, invoices, receipts and financial reports. You can find it here: link to theopenmic.co

        “If you don’t make this clear to your users soon, you risk coming across to them as a fraud.”

        I understand your concern, but it seems to me you don’t understand The Open Mic. The Open Mic is a community-driven business. It means that I openly share all the ideas, constantly ask for feedback and suggestions. Community feedback helps me shape the direction of The Open Mic. Helps me figure out what features should be built and what will make this project even better for translators. It’s definitely not a charitable organization. It’s a business.

        “Second, you mention your parents and their apartment. How is this relevant? ”

        My parents are the most important people in my life along with wife and my friends. They’re going through some hard times right now and it affects me as well. I know it’s very personal and you probably would say that I shouldn’t be sharing it here, but I’m afraid that’s how I do it. I share everything, the good, the bad, the ugly. I think this makes me human. I suppose you’d rather prefer seeing a strong image of a successful entrepreneur, but I’m afraid life is complicated and I’m trying to show that everything matters. Not just success, but also the struggle, the failure, bad decisions. I think a lot of people can relate to that.

        “So why should I give money to someone who admittedly doesn’t know how to manage his time or resources and who prioritizes a hobby over work when he has a family that is struggling financially?”

        Thank you for being so honest, Paula. I appreciate it. I know that The Open Mic might feel like an amateurish project. A hobby, so to speak. But it’s not hobby to me. I treat it like business. I take it very seriously. Like I’ve said, it’s a community-driven business. I believe it has a lot of potential and in my humble opinion it brings a lot of positive change to the profession. People love The Open Mic because it’s absolutely unique.

        Yes, how I do things here is not traditional. I share personal things. I talk about personal struggles. I don’t exactly ooze that success and professionalism like other influencers do (truth be told, definitions of success and professionalism can be so broad that they can mean absolutely different things to different people). But that’s just how it is. I can’t change who I am. I’m sorry.

        I respect your decision to not support the project. I hope you’ll change your mind someday.

        1. Dmitry, I am in no way trying to get you to change who you are and I don’t think people should ever feel they have to apologize for being themselves. Quite the contrary. I know you’re a nice guy and your heart is in the right place. What I am questioning here is not you on a personal level, but the method by which you are trying to raise money. Like most people, I think things through carefully before making decisions, like donating or investing my hard earned dinero. You asked for my money, so I’m asking questions.

          I’m glad that you are embracing the idea of accountability and are willing to give your investors a detailed description of where their money is going. Next step is to think about return on investment.

          If TOM follows a community driven business model, then there’s a second level of accountability that needs to be a part of that model: How exactly does TOM serve the community? It simply isn’t enough to say TOM “brings a lot of positive change to the profession.” Your selected business model depends directly on your ability to prove that; and, believe me, when you ask people to donate such a large sum, they will (and are right to) ask for evidence of that.

          Questioning the relevance of your parents’ financial situation was more a request for clarification. Are you asking me for money to pay for your parents’ apartment? If so, then that changes the nature of this donation quite significantly, doesn’t it? Notice, I haven’t even gotten all “lawyery” yet, but there are legal implications to consider here as well.

          Lastly, the person who originally referred to TOM as a hobby was, well, you. You said “I want to build something that will be much more than just a hobby.” So, which one is it? Hobby? Community-based business? Fund raiser for mom and pop? This is what I think you need to figure out before asking your community to just give you 80 grand.

          You probably can’t tell by reading my comments, but I really do wish you all the best with your endeavors. However, you’re going to need a clearer business model (perhaps even some legal advice, not from me, but from your friendly neighborhood lawyer) if you don’t want to see your reputation seriously damaged.

          1. Thank you, Paula. I definitely need to learn how to communicate my ideas clearer and I agree that a clear business model will help set things straight. I’ll try to communicate this clearer in the future.

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