Gengo, meaning language in Japanese, is an online translation company that has a vision "for everyone to read and publish across languages, with one click." To meet this vision they have a large base of translators working for them across the world, 14,000 to be precise. The company was co-founded in 2008 by Matthew Romaine and Robert Laing. Prior to forming Gengo both men had impressive corporate backgrounds. Romaine worked with Sony where he built the MiiStation and Laing had a design background, most notably working for The Guardian in London.
Originally known as myGengo before they re-branded in 2012, the company received successive rounds of funding through varied investors to arrive at their current destination. Gengo received $750,000, $1 million, $5.25 million and $12 million worth of backing through respective seed investment, angel investors and finally Series A and B round investments. The company now has a diverse collection of international investors behind them, including Intel Capital, Atomico and Iris Capital.
Gengo has offices in Tokyo along with San Mateo, USA. They work in 36 different languages and their translators are employed world wide, allowing for a responsive service at anytime of the day - more on their crowd sourcing translation model to come.
Products and Services
The Gengo business model is split up to target four specific markets namely, enterprise, Ecommerce, travel and everyone. Let's take a look through each of these to get a better understanding.
Gengo partners with a range of travel companies, service providers and online businesses in this sector providing translation services that enable these groups to convey their message in any language. This service is focused on the following areas:
- Travel listings
Based around the fact that we all like to make bookings in our native tongue, Gengo partners up with bookings companies (online or physical) to ensure that the reservation process functions smoothly in the desired languages.
- User reviews
These are very important these days as we all depend on reviews as part of our decision making processes, especially when traveling. Gengo works with review sites like TripAdvisor to ensure that reviews are readable in all languages.
- Location guides
When you're on holiday it's nice to have good guidance. In this case a Spanish hotel chain can have their guest activity guides updated to a range of languages without worrying about any 'Spanglish' errors popping up.
Similar to the travel industry, Gengo has targeted the online retail space to enable merchants to meet the demands of their international customer base. This applies to product descriptions, user reviews and customer support allowing these companies to focus on their core operations while things like user reviews and billing inquiries are translated for them to their everyday business language.
The enterprise product offering from Gengo involves connecting to their API in order to translate any content, even things like emails to your French colleague, across the world. For big corporations this means that there is no external process involved in getting work translated, the system is already connected. Gengo describes it as a high scale, more affordable option; it's actually $0.01 per word cheaper. Probably not relevant to your average small to medium enterprise, but interesting all the same.
This is perhaps the least emphasized area of their business, however an individual visiting their website can purchase translated content at a fixed rate of $0.06 per word vs. $0.05 per word for API customers. It's a nice feature for people submitting small amounts of text because whether you are translating a 15 word tweet or 150 word document the rate is the same.
This company's translation methods are interesting as they utilize one part technology and one part human work. At the front end is the system, the Gengo interface, and if you're a small to medium business or an individual you will use this through the website. If you are a larger company, chances are you might have their API connected to your system. From this point the order, whether it's a 140 character tweet translation or a million word order, is fulfilled through their crowd sourcing model, called the Gengo crowd platform. This means that the work is pushed through the system to thousands of potential translators who can then accept the work and reply with a translation. Through the process there is testing and peer review along with spot quality checks to ensure orders are delivered to meet company standards.
The company's hiring methods are a point of difference that is worth noting too. They run applicants through a two phase testing process that essentially weeds out the best from the rest. Stage one is a multi choice online test where participants must select the correct translation from options with small mistakes. They claim that this step eliminates the majority of people. Step two is written practical work across business areas they cover, such as product descriptions or user reviews. Only a select few make it through the screening process and this is something the company prides itself on.
Gengo appears to be an innovative online translation company that has made a big impact in the online translation scene. They have their roots in Japan, and a lot of their work appears to occur there. In April 2015 their most commonly demanded language pair was Japanese>English. True to their roots, they also place a strong emphasis on having quality customer service -- something Japan is famed for around the world. The way they pitch their business to the market comes across as more enterprise oriented, through features like API integration, however from what I can tell that's not exclusively the case. On the whole, Gengo gets a strong all round pass mark from this reviewer.