Small Business Entrepreneur Profile: Carla Itzkowich of International Contact

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Carla Itzkowich, president of International Contact.

San Fransisco Business Times showcases Carla Itzkowich in the Small Business Entrepreneur.


Below is San Fransisco Business Times profile:

What it does: Multi-language communications agency that produces content in over 100 languages.

HQ: Oakland.

2012 projected revenue: $1.2 million.

Employees: 17.

Founded: 1982.

Source of startup capital: Personal loans and family collateral.

Background (school, previous careers or first jobs, etc.): UC Berkeley with BA in environmental studies.

Age: 50.

Residence: Oakland.

Web site:

Big Picture

How’s business: Better than last year, we have a couple of new contracts and are diversifying services. This year we started doing telephonic interpretation.

Biggest challenge for your business at the moment: Demand has been slower in recent years, down 10-15 percent, but has grown again this year.

What’s going to change at your company in the next year: We just hired a publicist and are looking forward to capitalizing on our 30th anniversary and developing more business through a publicity push. All our previous growth has been organic.

Are you hiring, and if so, how many jobs and what kind: Three positions are available. We are looking for an account executive and automation manager, and to fill assistant production coordinator positions.

Business Moves

Reason for starting business: During my last year in college the Mexican banks were nationalized, and I wanted to have some money in case my father wasn’t able to send more. It began as a production service, but customers started to ask for commercials in Spanish.

Biggest misconception about ownership: As a business owner, you’re going to make your own schedule and work whenever you want. But I work with Asia, and I have to stay up late to talk to people in Japan, China and Europe.

Biggest business strength: We understand American business and what our customers want when they’re trying to export. We understand the pressures they face and can meet their needs in accuracy of translations, deadlines and securities.
Biggest business weakness: That we’re very ad hoc. The same thing that makes us strong by growing organically makes the training of new employees stressful.
Biggest risk and how did it go: When we decided to go for print production, we didn’t know everything we needed to know about the difficulties of ensuring translation accuracy. We learned as we went, but it paid off very well because now we’re print experts.
Biggest mistake: Not having automated business processes two years ago. All our processes are still manual.
Smartest move to grow business: Buying and moving into current office building. We don’t have a lot of customers come into our office, so we didn’t need our old place. I was able to be my own landlord and save on rent.

Key goal yet to achieve: I want to have an operations manager, and work only 40 hours a week, as opposed to 60.
Inducement to sell: I’d like to sell because I’m a little burnt out after 30 years of doing this work. Didn’t really consider earlier offers to sell, but now I would.


Most-admired entrepreneur or role model: Warren Buffett is pretty awesome.

Favorite pastimes: Scrabble.

Favorite book: Being There, by Jerzy Kosinski.

Favorite film: Love Actually.

Favorite restaurant: Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill in Oakland.

Favorite Bay Area destination: The Golden Gate Bridge.

Favorite Bay Area business other than own: Benefit Cosmetics.

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