Innovation or disruption, Babelverse is at the forefront of the tech-driven changes shaking up the $34 billion language-services market. Made up of multinational software companies that facilitate everything from machine translation to in-person interpreting, the industry is finally having its start-up moment.



Getting investment in an industry-disrupting company creates a lot of praise and buzz in the press. But true disruption is much more complicated.

What makes a new kid on the remote interpreting block stand out from the pack? According to Josef Dunne and Mayel de Borniol, the founders of Babelverse, a recognition of the need to bring technology to niche markets sets them apart from other interpreting companies.

While it’s still a very new and largely untested business, we see two important advantages for Babelverse in the marketplace. First, this is an industry that desperately needs more innovation to help humans respond to the ever-growing demand for their services. Babelverse is a young and tech-savvy company, whose founders have an engineering background. These characteristics set them apart from most of the leading interpreting companies in today’s marketplace.

Second, Babelverse has a clear marketing talent – a knack for spotting opportunities that most language service and technology companies overlook.

TechCrunch has millions of readers around the globe, and they speak far more languages than our staffers or guests at Disrupt. To make it easier for our global readers to enjoy the conference, we are excited to partner with Babelverse, a Disrupt NYC 2012 Battlefield finalist, to provide real-time, simultaneous translation of the conference

To Address Language Barriers:
Babelverse is a real-time human translation service for events and videos. The platform launched a public beta in late April at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam, where it also translated the conference into Spanish and Portuguese for the Latin American audience. The service is powered by a team of more than 1,000 interpreters located all over the world, who provide translations in nearly 200 languages. Event organizers provide Babelverse with a live stream of the speaker, and then attendees can access the translation online via a computer or smartphone, or call a local number on their cell phones. The service can be used by in-person and virtual attendees.

Babelverse has done a very good job by using technology to tap on to a global pool of bi- and multi-linguists to help out in ad-hoc translation and get paid for their services anywhere and anytime. Customers who require such service can similarly request for a translation of a video or a conversation by a “freelance” translator on Babelverse. This is definitely one product to bring along when travelling abroad.

Throughout the event, attendees were able to vote for their favourite application or service at the conference and the winner of two awards was a live translation service called Babelverse.

The real-time voice translation startup Babelverse will provide live interpretation of TNW Conference in Spanish and Portuguese.
For the young startup, it is a great way to showcase its platform, ahead of the public beta version it will announce on stage in Amsterdam.

Do you wish language barriers didn’t exist? Well, the young startup Babelverse hopes to make them disappear, thanks to its online community of remote interpreters. After a few months in private testing, it is now ready to launch its public beta version on stage during TNW Conference

...marquee companies, such as real-time crowd-sourced translation service Babelverse. A high-profile startup that recently won a bake-off at Europe’s LeWeb Startup Competition, Babelverse took advantage of the Start-Up Chile program to extend its runway, reduce its burn and take advantage of a more favorable regulatory and legal climate...

In addition to the contrast with the macroeconomic meltdown, all of this activity has produced some stark juxtaposition. In February, Athens hosted its fourth Startup Weekend. A year earlier, the startup Babelverse had launched itself out of Startup Weekend Athens and then found itself giving an impressive pitch at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York. This year, Startup Weekend Athens sold out three days after the event was announced, and the 130 attendees produced 15 competing teams. It also happened to coincide with high policy drama in Athens, with the Greek parliament debating debt obligations and terms from the International Monetary Fund that same weekend. This precipitated riots in downtown Athens. By the end of the weekend, someone had posted two radically different pictures on Facebook: The fires and riots in one photo, and Startup Weekend participants hard at work in the other. (Babelverse, meanwhile, went on to participate in Startup Chile, a pioneering entrepreneurship program, and was a finalist in the 2011 LeWeb conference in Paris.)

While market fragmentation in Asia has often been perceived as an obstacle for startups in Asia, Babelverse could turn it into an advantage.
Just a few kilometers south of Singapore is Indonesia, which predominantly speaks Bahasa Indonesia. Head in the opposite direction, past Malaysia, and you’ll hit Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, each with their own languages.
The diversity is enriching, but it creates communication problems. Expecting people to eventually speak English won’t always work, since everyone’s proficiencies, comfort levels, and upbringings vary. Some prefer to snub English altogether.

Up to 1,000 tech entrepreneurs will live on a purpose-built cruise ship off the Californian coast to grow their start-ups away from US visa restrictions.
‘I was immediately interested in this idea of having entrepreneurs on a boat in international water – it rings bells of the pirate radio boats,’ Josef said.‘I love the water, I love the sea, so spending a year on a boat is perfectly fine with me.’

Livestreamed events just got more exciting to plan! If you have an event or conference that you know from past data attracts a global audience on site and earns a significant number of video views on your Web site or YouTube channel afterwards, you have an option to introduce a new revenue stream by offering paid access to real-time event proceedings using translation services like Babelverse. Or simply open up your event to the online world for free for increased exposure, as Tech Crunch Disrupt so wisely did.

As its name suggests, Babelverse deals in languages. The app is a real-time voice translation service, powered by a "global community of human interpreters." By crowdsourcing both professional and amateur interpreters for a per minute fee (that ranges between $0.20 to $1.00), users can log on, find a translator immediately, and begin a conversation with someone who speaks another language. Right now, the network includes about 3,000 translators, but its founder, Josef Dunne, believes it has the potential to scale. "This can be a revolution in personal communication," he said.

The Internet makes it easy to collaborate across borders. But despite the rise of remote work and virtual teams, founders still need to travel for business sometimes. For some, travel practically becomes the job. And while data and capital now flow virtually unrestricted across borders, physical border crossing have gotten no easier. That’s causing headaches for global startups.
Take Babelverse co-founder Mayel de Borniol. He calls himself a “glomad,” which means a world traveler with no fixed address. Officially he’s a French citizen, but he prefers not to even think of himself as a citizen of anywhere — not even a “citizen of the world.”

Babelverse, disrupting interpretation
You may find it hard to believe that its service exists: doesn’t real-time speech interpretation sound like pure science-fiction? But if you are still having doubts, we can confirm that the startup has proven multiple times that its platform is fully operational.
More importantly, we are talking about high-quality interpretation, performed by native speakers which form part of Babelverse’s community. While automated voice interpretation tools have been creeping up in the App Store thanks to the growing popularity of speech recognition, they offer disappointing results at best — at least for now.

If there are two entrepreneurs that embody the grand adventure of starting a company, it’s Josef Dunne and Mayel de Borniol from Babelverse.

The pair, almost entirely bootstrapped and currently based out of a 15 square metre shed slash office on a family property in London, are taking the web conference circuit by storm.

English/Greek Babelverse, the real-time crowd-sourced interpreting service, won the B2B and Public Choice awards. I have met Josef Dunne and Mayel de Borniol†at a number of events including HackFwd Build.0.9 and have been amazed by their relentlessness. Babelverseís team has been paying out of its bootstrapped pocket (padded with a $40K grant from Start-up Chile) to offer real-time interpreting of TNW into Spanish and Italian, and has announced the launch of the public beta.

TechCrunch Disrupt opened in New York City today, in pouring rain with a bit less people than last year but with an intriguing turn of the apps from the self-referential virtuality of last year to more integration with real life and real-world activities.

Babelverse - get this! They actually have a model, unlike Google Translate which wants to put people like me out of business, that helps good interpreters get paid.

Babelverse is a startup that could foster exchange. The language barrier is one of the most real (especially on the internet), one of the obstacles you hit most often, preventing us from communicating with others, sharing dreams and creations.