20 October 2014

Success Story of Vasco Pedro – Unbabel

1) Can you give a brief description of what your company does?

Unbabel’s mission is to enable seamless, trustworthy written communication in different languages. The Unbabel platform combines a novel approach to machine translation with a community of bilinguals and freelance translators which results in human quality translations, at a fraction of the cost, an order of magnitude faster.Customers enjoy peace of mind while communicating in their native language to natives of other countries, secure that communication barriers are not damaging their business. With our translation API, the translation workflow can disappear within your  normal content creation. Current uses cases include translating UGC, providing multi-lingual customer communication and content localization.

2) How did you come up with the idea behind your company?

It seems kind of silly that in the 21st Century we still don’t have a computer  that is able to translate. We realized that they’re close but they aren’t quite there yet. If we just get human to help the machine complete the translation, we  could make the human so much more productive and produce things that are human quality and sound natural, not robotic, and don’t have mistakes. Typically the industry works in a way that the human does 100% of the  work. We use artificial intelligence to do 95% of the work, and then the human does the remaining 5% of the work. And since the human does 5% of the work,  the costs go down significantly.

3) What difficulties did you face getting your business started?

How to acquire customers and how to acquire translators. For the first, we launched an API that integrates with your workflow that is  crucial to customer service workflow. This API is the basis of our go to market strategy and acquiring customers. For example if you have customer service, it makes sense that you’d have a Zendesk – Unbabel plugin that you could add to your account and provide service in any language seamlessly. If you do newsletters you’ll have a MailChimp plugin, we’d like to integrate into services that companies use everyday.or the second, we think the best way to capture translators is to engage with communities that are already engaged with the online community. A percentage of those people have the skillset to translate stuff, which is basically anybody that speaks two languages. If we can build strong relationships with loved brands and communities and help them by getting their sites translated we will in turn have access to their users, helping us build a powerful channel for user acquisition.

4) If you were starting again, is there anything you would do differently?

Start it earlier.

5) What advice would you give to a recent ICT graduate who is thinking of starting their own company?

Focus on launching the product and than on growth and the rest will follow.