, a translation service for websites, announced a $4 million series A round of venture funding led by Venrock.
Smartling uses a combination of software, crowdsourcing, and professional translators to provide “accurate, quick, and affordable translations” of online content.
Venrock was joined in the round by US Venture Partners, First Round Capital, and several angels.
“Now that the tech works and it is clear demand is there, they will be ramping hiring and adding customers,” Venrock’s David Pakman (pictured) tells us.
Pakman explains on his blog some of his thinking behind the investment and how Smartling works:
At eMusic, I saw up close how painful, time consuming and expensive it was to translate our site into other languages. Like most sites, at least half of our inbound traffic was from non-US and non-English-speaking sources. But our site was all in English. Our only choices were to hire expensive translation service agencies, pay them gobs of money ($100K – $300K per language), and wait 3-6 months while we integrated with their proprietary systems. No thanks. So we did what everyone else does: we punted.
Enter Smartling, Venrock’s newest portfolio company. They have approached the problem in an ingenious way. You simply make a small change to your DNS record (i.e., you point www.yourcompany.cn traffic to Smartling) and they start translating. They receive all of your non-US or non-English speaking traffic and they translate your site for you, pulling all the English text from your site, and letting you still serve all the non-text. They serve the translated text from the cloud. They can crowd-source the translation, using you own customers to do the work for you (very cheap!), they can use Google’s or anyone else’s automated algorithms (fast, but not of the highest quality) or they can use a virtual workforce of hundreds of the most professional translators in the world. They translate only the pages receiving traffic and within a few hours or days (depending on the size of your site), your site is translated. Voila.
Aside from speed and literally no integration time or costs, they operate in real-time. If you make a change to a single word on any page, they know about it and translate it right away. You no longer have to worry about multi-lingual work flow. They are also dramatically less-expensive (by two orders of magnitude) than the existing service providers. You pay a monthly fee.
They have been up and running with a bunch of exciting customers like Drop.io with great results so far (Check out drop.io in Chinese and Spanish.). The costs of using them are much lower than the increased revenue and engagement you’ll get by offering your site in the native language of your visitors. And none of this could be made possible without the power of the cloud.
Think of Smartling as yet another must-have web service you will choose from the Chinese Menu of cloud-based services we will all use to build our sites now and in the future. Congrats to Jack Welde and his team!
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.