Getting sick in China might've been the best thing to happen to this startup founder

Ryan FrankelLinkedIn.comRyan Frankel launched a language software tool after leaving Goldman

Sometimes, an entrepreneur’s ‘eureka!’ moment comes at the worst possible time.

This, is one of those stories.

The entrepreneur is Ryan Frankel, his startup is VerbalizeIt, a translation business.

First, Frankel’s backstory: he spent about three years working at Goldman Sachs on a variety of tasks on both private equity and venture capital deals across sectors including healthcare, consumer services and alternative energy, to name a few.

In 2010, Frankel left Goldman Sachs and returned to school at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and — like a lot of graduate students — took advantage of the free time.

“While at Wharton, I travelled as much as I could,” he told Business Insider. “In 2011 while travelling in China, I found myself incredibly ill and unable to communicate with a pharmacist in China.”

While there, Frankel noshed on local food that didn’t agree with him — in a big way. His inability to communicate left him unable to get the medication he was hoping to buy.

“It became clear to me that there was an opportunity to help people better communicate across languages barriers,” he said.

The business that came from that realisation isn’t geared toward travellers, but Frankel’s idea is still proving valuable. VerbalizeIt, based in New York, lets corporate clients upload documents and audio files and then has translators go to work.

Clients include Yamaha, TripAdvisor, online music subscription service Rdio and Salesforce subsidiary Desk.com. So far, the outsourced translation service has raised $US2.5 million in private backing.

Frankel says the outsourced language translation market represents a $US36 billion industry.

Frankel, now CEO at VerbalizeIt, says he doesn’t regret his decision to walk out of one of the world’s most prestigious investment banks.

“Working at Goldman Sachs and in finance allowed me to add skills and experiences that I could ultimately apply to my own startup,” he said. “Moving from finance into a startup is risky but the juice is worth the squeeze especially after soaking up as much as you can from the knowledge and experiences of others.”

Even to this day, Frankel continues to rely on his Goldman network of mentors for advice, he said.

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