Press Coverage

Sep 26, 2011

Gengo lands $5.25M for online translation that really works

Gengo, a startup that provides customized language-translation services, has taken on $5.25 million in Series A funding from London-based venture capital firm Atomico and 500 Startups.

Right now, the translation market has two main segments: a high-end market dominated by full-time in-house translators, and a low-end market dominated by Google Translate. myGengo’s service aims to occupy the space in between the two markets by offering “human translation services at scale.”

Essentially, Gengo is like an oDesk built specifically for translation services. Gengo has assembled a group of more than 3,000 translators worldwide who work on a freelance basis through Gengo’s own dedicated software program. Gengo serves clients directly, and also has an API to let other startups include Gengo’s translation services in their apps. Gengo says it is targeted at people and businesses who occasionally need high-quality, fast translation services, but aren’t in the market to hire an in-house translator for the job.

Gengo costs only a small amount — 5 cents per word for a standard job — for two main reasons, the company says on its website: “Many professional translators use Gengo as a backup where they do some work when they are between larger projects. They accept a lower compensation for the convenience. Plus, we avoid a lot of office related costs.” Depending on the level of complexity and sophistication a client wants in the translated language, Gengo promises to finish projects in between 1 hour and 16 hours per page.

The Tokyo-based company says it plans to use its new funding to expand its presence in the United States. “Gengo is going to be the #1 way for companies to go global and communicate with foreign audiences,” Gengo CEO Rob Laing told me via email this week. “We’re confident in our market, so we’re growing our engineering, sales and marketing teams to reach new customers in the US and Asia.” The company currently has 12 full-time employees (translators are sub-contractors) and expects to grow its team to 25 or 30 staff by the beginning of next year.

Previously, Gengo took on $1.75 million in seed funding from 500Startups and a group of angel investors including Mitch Kapor. Gengo currently provides translation for 15 different languages, and its customers currently include eHow, Evernote, VW and Audi Financial Services, and others.

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