Interactio, a remote interpretation platform whose clients include massive institutions like the United Nations, the European Commission, and Parliament, as well as companies like BMW, JP Morgan, and Microsoft, has closed a $ 30 million Series A after deploying its Tools increased 12-fold between 2019 and 2020 During the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for online meeting platforms increased.
Series A funding is being led by Eight Roads Ventures and Storm Ventures from Silicon Valley, along with the participation of Practica Capital, Notion Capital, and well-known angels such as Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, and Young Sohn, ex-chief strategy officer from Samsung.
Based in Vilnius, Lithuania, the startup offers digital tools to connect meetings with certified interpreters who interpret in real time to bridge language differences between participants. It also offers a video conferencing platform that allows its customers to conduct remote meetings, but it easily integrates with software from 30 vendors such as Zoom, Webex, etc. (Last year, the digital tools were used alongside 43 different video streaming platforms.)
Interactio’s interpreters can be located in the room where the meeting is taking place or perform real-time interpretation entirely remotely by viewing and listening to a stream of the meeting. (Or it can actually support a mix of remote and on-site interpretation if a customer so wishes.)
It can also supply all of the interpreters for a meeting – and it promotes a strict screening process to incorporate certified interpreters into its platform – or it trains a client’s interpreters on how to use its tools to keep the day running smoothly.
Interactio currently works with more than 1,000 freelance interpreters and promotes “close relationships with interpreting agencies”. It can easily quadruple the pool of available interpreters to meet increasing demand.
It offers its customers interpreting in any language – and in an unlimited number of languages per event. Last year more than 18,000 meetings with an audience of 390,000 took place in more than 70 countries.
Now, along with a huge Serie A, Interactio is preparing for a future filled with an increasing number of multilingual online meetings – as the coronavirus continues to add friction to business travel.
“When we started, our biggest competition was simultaneous translation hardware for on-site interpretation. At that time, we had the mission to completely replace it with our software, which did not require any additional hardware for the participants besides a telephone and headphones. For institutions that have been our primary focus, hybrid meetings are key. So we started working with simultaneous translation hardware manufacturers and integrators by working together on hybrid events where attendees use on-site hardware and online attendees use us. “A spokeswoman told us.
“This is how we differ from other platforms – by offering a completely hybrid solution that can be integrated into the on-site hardware via a cable.”
“When we look at market trends, we still see zoom as the most widely used solution. That’s why we supplement them with professional interpretation solutions, ”she added.
Focusing on customer support is another tactic that Interactio says it relies on – and the iOS and Android apps have high ratings overall. (However, there are a number of historical complaints that suggest there have been problems in the past scaling the service for a large audience, as well as sporadic problems with things like audio quality over the years.)
While the startup, founded in 2014, is already profitable, the Serie A is being used to step on the gas to continue to meet the accelerated demand and exponential growth seen during the remote work boom.
In particular, the funds will continue to improve their technology and UX / UI – with an emphasis on ensuring easy access / simplicity for those who need access to interpreters, and also on updating the tools they make available to interpreters (thus they “work best”) conditions of their chosen job “).
It will also spend on growing its customer base – and is particularly keen to attract more businesses and other types of customers. (“The focus of the past year has been and is on institutions (e.g. European Commission, European Parliament, United Nations) where there is no room for error and which need the most professional solution. The next step will be ours Expanding the customer base to include corporate customers and a larger audience that needs to be interpreted, “it told us.)
The new funding will also be used to expand the size of the team to support these goals, including increasing the number of skilled interpreters it works with to keep up with increasing demand.
While large institutions like the United Nations will never be tempted to degrade the quality of translations for diplomats and politicians by not using human interpreters (either on-site or remotely), there may be a limit to the professional real-time translation can be due to the availability of real-time machine translation technology. This is an inexpensive alternative to support more basic meeting scenarios, such as B. between two professionals having an informal meeting.
For example, Google offers a real-time translator mode that users of its smartphone platform can access through the Google voice assistant’s AI. Hardware startups are also trying to achieve real-time translation. The dream of a true AI-powered ‘Babel Fish’ remains strong.
Even so, such efforts are not well suited to support large-scale meetings and conferences. Having a central delivery service that is also responsible for troubleshooting audio quality or other issues that may arise is therefore critical.
And although machine translation has undoubtedly gotten much better over the years (although performance may vary depending on the language), there is still a risk that important details in the translation could be lost if the machine makes a mistake. So, offering highly scalable human translations over a digital platform seems like a safe bet as the world gets used to the fact that more remote working (and less wandering around the world) is the new normal.
“AI-powered translations are a great tool when you need a quick fix and are willing to sacrifice quality,” says Interactio when we ask. “Our customers are large corporations and institutions, so any kind of misunderstanding can be critical. Translation is not about saying a word in another language, but about giving meaning and communicating a context through interpretation.
“We firmly believe that only people can understand the true context and meaning of conversations in which sometimes a tone of voice, an emotion and a figure language can make a big difference that goes unnoticed by a machine.”