Tolingo secures Series A funding for fast, cheap translation service

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[Germany] Tolingo, the online translation platform, has secured a Series A round of investment. The investment comes from Neuhaus Partners in Hamburg which is using a local start-up fund run by a public programme in conjunction with the local KfW bank (hey, this is Europe remember). The investment will be used to expand further in Europe and internationally. Terms were undisclosed but sources say it is in the €1 million to €2 million range.

Tolingo was founded in 2008 and now has over 2,500 certified translators online at any one time. There are 26 translation categories to choose from, depending on the subject matter of the text. Customers can use a series of preselections such as medicine, marketing, law, finance, or business are allocated a specialist translator in that field. Translations are proof-read twice.

Matthias Grychta, managing partner at Neuhaus Partners says Tolingo’s platform “significantly increases translation speed.” The 24-year old founder and CEO Hanno von der Decken thinks Tolingo’s 40% cheaper price-point that small translation agencies is also a draw.

Tolingo has competitors in the shape of and mygengo as a comparible system.

  • Chris Dunst

    This is the first time I’ve heard of this company, but I’ve just tried it out. The interface is easy to use, and the best part is being able to have small snippets of text translated rather than incurring a minimum fee per language (minimum charges add up when translating into lots of languages).

    Best of luck to tolingo, there’s a huge market for business translations and they should do well if their translations are as good as their interface.

    • Dave Martin

      One Hour Translation is probably the leading player in this field, there are many others including babylon, mygengo

      will be interesting to see how this industry unfolds

  • David Winter

    I think that for customers (especially those who need quick and reliable service), this kind of online translation agency (which acts as a front-end for thousands of freelance translators) is a good thing.

    As a translator, I would worry about two things: Price (their rates are reasonable, but what percentage do they keep?) and IP. today, finished translations (“segments”) are stored in translation memories, which are basically bilingual databases. If the translations and the resulting TMs become the property of the agency, they will soon sit on a huge pile of translation units, so more work can be done without involving a human being. This is the same way the Google Translator’s Toolkit works by default.

    In the short run, this will bring more work to more translators – but as the years go by, it may kill their business. These services (there are many others) may become the istockphoto for words – with the same implications for professionals who need to pay the rent.

    • elvirs

      @David, I dont think TM will replace human translation anytime soon, while it will be a good complementary service it will never replace human translators. for example Google has used 110 million pages of translation to create TM for GoogleTranslate, but its translations are still very bad.

      • David Winter

        @ elvirs, I also don’t think that translation memories as such will “replace” human translators – images don’t replace photographers, either.

        It’s just that as TMs become bigger and accessible by more parties, they inevitably reduce the amount of work for translators – because that’s the whole point.

        (There are only so many ways of saying “Plug A into B.” :)

        And I’m not saying translation memories are a bad thing – other than machine translation (which still is the butt of jokes), they are the results of hard-working humans, and they allow people to communicate more effectively. And every company has the right to benefit from paid translations by re-using them.

        But when you reach a certain scale (and it’s not only Google up there), you can do a lot with TMs. You may want to read about TAUS Data. Almost every big name in IT is in there, and they are pooling their resources (high-quality TMs with many million TUs).

        These guys will change the face of the (technical= translator’s business in the same way that drum machines changed life for the average drummer twenty years ago. It *will* kill large parts of their business, unless they are top-notch and/or highly specialized.

        As a human being, I applaud what TAUS, the various Google translation tools and open translation repositories do. Communication is wonderful. Language barriers should be broken.

        But as a translator, I think this might be a good time to be really, really afraid.

  • Philipp

    Congrats to Hanno!
    Just to clear it up – the state-backed KfW is tagging along with Neuhaus Partners, who are a private fund.
    Also, your links do not seem to work (NH/KfW).

  • Jeff is also doing fast, affordable translations.

  • Philipp Berner

    Met Tolingo in Berlin. Really good service. Used it by my self for a couple of times.

    GO GO GO!!!

    • uebersetzung-deutsch-englisch

      Philip, can i ask how do you know that you will have the same translator working on each of your translations – therefore guaranteeing a consistent writing style

  • Agha Mehdi

    Does it not work in Chrome? Every time I try to enter text, it comes up with a browser popup with “null”???

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  • Maximilian

    Tolingo is too expensive. Just try out They have a better online-calculator and are much cheaper.

  • Peter Kahl

    Interesting! I suggest you go and compare the home pages of tolingo ( and easytrans (

    Same colour scheme, same general layout, both companies based in Hamburg. I wonder who is ripping whom off here. Any comments from industry insiders would be welcome.

    Just to clarify – I’m a freelance translator based in the UK with no particular axe to grind. I do think there is a story in here somewhere, though…

    • uebersetzung-deutsch-englisch

      i think you have a great point there

  • Mike Levin

    I believe is the number 1 player.
    They offer more languages, 24/7 support, better rates and an innovative business model.

  • Holger Mueller

    A reliable project manager is the heart of every multilingual translation project. A translation isn’t “easy”, every professional client knows that. There is always a lot to talk about. is a fast growing company with project managers who got phones.

  • Maximilian

    @ Peter Kahl: easytrans is out there for nearly 8 years now (I think). tolingo is a plattform, something like ebay for translations. they are not an agency or and office with individual project management. jobs are posted like in a blog and who comes first gets the job first. tolingo’s main slogan is ‘faster than others’. they are realizing speed through this automatic plattform. but do customers need faster translations or personal support?. maybe customers want the same translator for their future jobs?

    i have been working for tolingo and easytrans as well and the funny part is, i’ve never earned more money through tolingo’s jobs than through easytrans’s although easytrans offers much less rates that tolingo.

  • uebersetzung-deutsch-englisch


  • uebersetzung-deutsch-englisch

    i am not totally convinced by what they have done here. The major issue with translation work is consistency and as far as i can see there is no opportunity for a client to insist on having the same translator working on your text. I feel this may be the case of using technology for technology sake – rather than common sense! I would much rather use a traditional company such as 2translate

  • John

    Hi All, it seems, that Hamburg has the biggest translation agency community in Germany. 24translate is another big player, established in 1999.

    They have about 100 dedicated, professional employees (IT, Telesales…) and over 5,000 highly motivated, expert freelancers. has a great customer experience and they have full service 24/7, all-in-one-packages from experienced specialists.

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  • translations

    thank you for this article.

  • onlinetranslate

    We wish you much success…

  • Karin

    Great website, unique usability!
    It’s really amazing how many certified translators have joined Tolingo since January 2010 (6000 in January 2011!). It’s a pity that Tolingo cannot provide certified translations.
    If you ever require a certified German translation (English, Spanish, German), please feel free to contact us at

  • Katja

    Real experts for German – Polish – Russian translations:


  • Norbert

    Yet another way to compare translators: http://www.ihre-ü

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