Lingo24 targets Silicon Valley as source of funds

Chief executive Christian Arno. Picture: Contributed
Chief executive Christian Arno. Picture: Contributed
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TECHNOLOGY outfit Lingo24 is heading to Silicon Valley to raise millions of dollars to further develop its “eBay for translation” platform.

The Edinburgh-based company has been inspired by the $12 million (£8m) recently raised by a smaller, “less-developed” Japanese translation company, Gengo.

The Tokyo-based firm raised the funding from a consortium of investors including a subsidiary of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, venture capital firms Atomico and Iris Capital, NTT-IP from Japan and Saudi Telecom Ventures.

Lingo24’s platform, called “Coach”, has been designed to offer users “quality controlled translation at the lowest possible cost”, provided by the company’s expanding global network of 4,000 linguists.

The platform is flexible enough to bring in translators of varying levels of linguistic proficiency. Separate parts of a translation job for a client can be broken down on the platform so some parts can even be checked by a mono-linguist for accuracy.

The company has developed its translation technology platform over the past year and is currently rolling it out on an “experimental” basis to some “very big brands”, according to founder and chief executive Christian Arno. The 11-year-old company also focuses on developing “translation engines” that collect terms and phrases specific to a variety of sectors, such as banking, motoring and retail.

The fundraising comes at a critical time in the expansion of translation services.

Current “machine translation” systems provided for free by web search giants Bing and Google are rudimentary at best but seem to be whetting the appetite for fast but more accurate translation.

Independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory estimates the global market for outsourced language services and technology will surpass $34.7 billion this year. This month, the agency listed Lingo24 in its top 100 annual language services market report, out of more than 27,600 suppliers of translation and interpreting services across 154 countries.

Arno said the company’s new platform was “like eBay, which is a digital marketplace for goods. We think that this can become the digital marketplace for quality control translation.”

He said the investment he is looking for – currently in the range of £3m – will make the platform “bigger and more ­robust”.

Arno said the company also needs to boost its international sales operations.

The firm has appointed accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael as its corporate finance advisor and has made some “informal” approaches to potential investors.

“We would like an investor that understands digital marketplaces,” Arno said. “We will need support to make that really work.

“We are talking to investors in Silicon Valley and I will be spending October over there seeing what can be done.”