Interprefy, a remote simultaneous interpreting technology startup, has completed another round of funding, bringing total funds raised to around CHF 6.35m (USD 6.3m).
Based in Switzerland, Interprefy deploys its app-based technology to enable event producers to cut costs by eliminating the need for booths and for interpreters to be onsite.
In its sixth and largest funding round since it was established in 2014, Interprefy has secured CHF 2.875m. According to company information, Interprefy’s post-money valuation now stands at CHF 21m, almost twice what it was a year ago, and the company generated CHF 1.24m in revenue in 2018.
A total of CHF 1.15m came from Technologiefonds, a government-backed fund operated by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU). A further CHF 1.725m was contributed by various Switzerland-based investors.
Slator contacted Kim Ludvigsen, Founder and CEO of Interprefy, for comment on the funding round and his take on the evolution of the simultaneous interpreting space.
Ludvigsen said the money will be used to expand the sales team internationally, for further product development, and for marketing. Interprefy has already appointed additional sales people in 2019 — four in Asia-Pacific and two in Europe — bringing the total sales headcount to 16 globally.
Ludvigsen also told Slator that Interprefy is not done raising funds and will look to secure additional debt financing in 2020.
Fewer Air Miles, More RSI
Given the need for interpreter booths and other interpreting equipment, traditional simultaneous interpreting is typically an asset-heavy and complex operation. It is significant that, of the 13 ISO standards related to translation and interpreting, five specifically cover simultaneous interpreting, conference interpreting, or interpreting equipment.
Remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) removes the need for interpreters to be physically present onsite. And Ludvigsen explained that this appeals to event producers because “it can be difficult to find specialist interpreters locally and the prospect of flying interpreters over long distances is unattractive,” especially relevant for remote locations, he said.
Eliminating flying is part of Interprefy’s environmental pitch. It helped the company secure funding from Technologiefonds, which is operated by the Swiss Environment Office.
Ludvigsen sees big opportunity in RSI — first, because it has the potential to capture part of the existing simultaneous interpreting market; and, second, because it could open up a new market.
“Currently, only a very small part of conference interpreting is done remotely, but this share is growing rapidly,” Ludvigsen said; although he does not believe that it will entirely replace onsite interpreting.
“Smaller organizations, which could not previously afford interpreting, now order the service” — Kim Ludvigsen, Founder and CEO, Interprefy
Moreover, he said, “smaller organizations, which could not previously afford interpreting, now order the service. The uptake of smartphones continues and the arrival of 5G and better Internet connections will dramatically facilitate the use of RSI.”
Interprefy’s client base includes multinational corporations, NGOs, and sports associations. The company also partners with a number of language service providers (LSPs) who, according to Ludvigsen, “realize that RSI is a means to gain a competitive advantage over their peers.”
He added, “LSPs need to innovate and offer value-added services to their clients, otherwise these will bypass them, in a similar way to travel agencies when travellers started to buy tickets online.”
“LSPs need to innovate and offer value-added services to their clients, otherwise these will bypass them, in a similar way to travel agencies when travellers started to buy tickets online”
In addition to its network of partner LSPs, Interprefy has its own database that comprises around 2,000 freelance interpreters, “of which 500 have been trained on our platform,” Ludvigsen said. Along with the use of the platform, customers can request interpreting services directly from Interprefy, as well as “technical support and project management,” he said.
To complement human services, Ludvigsen expects that “Interprefy will offer machine interpreting in parallel with human RSI,” once the technology has improved.