GearTranslations is the language translations company that is bringing translation services back to the human element and away from automatic translation programs. Gear Translations is already the leading translation service provided in Latin America and has a client base that include: Honeywell, PricewatershouseCoopers among others.
KITE Invest: Before addressing the Gear Translations’ services, please discuss the origins of the company.
Lourdes Rivas: I founded GearTranslations based on my experience as translator. I’ve been a freelance translator for 10 years and have a deep knowledge of the translation industry. Traditionally, the day-to-day of a translator is a quite solitary work. This mainly means there are no second opinions for quality control, and the response time depends on individual skills or availability. Also, most of us do not have a sales profile, so it becomes difficult to market your professional services.
On the side of the client needing a translation, the global market has become a challenge. English is no longer enough to really engage with consumers globally. Instead, you need to speak their local languages to be able to connect your brand, which is the only way towards becoming a chosen product or service. Small and big companies are faced with having to contract-out translation services through three to five different translators, or they have to go through an agency, where prices are high due to their fixed structure costs. At GearTranslations, both the client and the translator ends are covered: translators are no longer alone and can count on a community to work with, and clients find at GearTranslations a turn-key solution, allowing them to focus on scaling their business globally.
KITE: As the Startup was founded in 2012, what has been the company’s trajectory over the last two years? What have been some the challenges in establishing the company and generating a client base and moreover, a returning client base?
LR:It wasn’t too difficult to get our first clients, as there is a high demand for this service; the global market of language translations is USD$40 billion. The main inconvenience for a company or an individual looking for translation services is to find an easy access it and a quality assurance policy. So, we focused our efforts in producing high-quality human translations and on creating an online purchase process. We now have a 90% re-purchase rate and many clients get to Gear from the referral channel.
KITE: Through Gear Translations’ community of collaborators, the company is able to produce translations in a range of sectors, such as engineering, finance, medical, and IT, as well as, for various types of content, such as web sites, audio, resumes and more in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German. In order to provide such thorough services what are some of the criteria set for the ‘community of collaborators’ (translators)? While focusing on the human element, how do you ensure the same level of quality across the board?
LR: Our community is constantly monitored for quality and expertise. To become a GearTranslator, applicants have to pass an entrance test that is focused on identifying skills within areas such as technical and general translation, and also their grammar skills in both their mother tongue and their second language are tested. Once they have passed that exam, they get scores depending on the type of content they translate and senior translators are in charge of providing feedback to the new comers. This also means that a translator in our community has the possibility of a career path to follow: from newcomer to senior translator. Benefits of a senior translator include higher value per word translated, priority to receive project proposals, and the possibility of uploading their own projects to the community thus empowering them to scale their independent professional services.
KITE: The cost of Gear Translations is $0.19 per word, which is less than half the cost of other translation services. How does your business model allow for your services to be conducted at a fraction of the price?
LR:We basically don’t charge excessive extra pricing for being the connection between translators and clients. This is a company made by translators so empowering the translators’ community is also our goal. Our vision is to help translators standardize their output in terms of quality and be able to count on a community of peers to also run their own projects. This way, we make it easier for companies to contract-out translation services they can trust with Gear-Certified Translators.
We also commercialize our product as a stand-alone software, which allows organizations to run their own translation projects with their own team of translators. We make sure we grow but distribute our monetization structure in a way our prices are competitive.
KITE: In addition to hired translation services, Gear Translations anticipated core product is the web platform that is similar to that of Google Translate, but will provide 100% human translations.
LR: We will become the first real-time human translation service online. We are already providing this service in very specific cases but it still remains our R&D project. We believe language and communications are within the human side of the world, it is what distinguishes us from others, and it is healthier that this remains that way.
The fact that communications need to be instantaneous is not enough reason for making them automatic, created by artificial intelligence. Neither are they low cost, as a real license for any translation software for business is quite high in pricing, and on top of that it needs heavy human edition. We are on our way towards having technology applied to make a human faster and efficient, not to replace one. Machine translation will always be there and it is fine to have a playful service like that, but companies and professionals will always need a human voice to take their business ideas to the world.
I read a few days ago a clipping about how Toyota removed all machines and got back to people in the assembly of automobiles, as the quality was better and it was responsible in terms of being a source of jobs for the world. That trend speaks for itself.
KITE: How does Gear Translations specifically provide the quality of human translations at the same speed of automatic computer generated translations?
LR:We base our service in the segmentation of files. Each translator is in charge of small segments of content and they all translate simultaneously. Our proprietary production process makes that possible, providing the collaborators specific tools that ensure consistency throughout the output.
KITE: In terms of funding, what are the specific funding needs of Gear Translations? What is the phase of funding – if seeking at this time – is Gear Translations looking for?
LR: We have now a seed investment round of €500,000 open, which will be specifically used in scaling our services in Europe. We have an established business, with positive revenue having passed the break-even point, so we are ready to go global.
GearTranslations recently participated as a finalist in the Startup competition at The South Summit in Madrid, Spain