A startup called Webflakes aims to bring some of the best international content on fashion, food, travel, and more to English-speaking readers with the help of volunteer translators. The site is officially launching today, and the company is also announcing that it has raised $3 million in Series A funding.
CEO Nathan Shuchami told me that people searching the web can sometimes struggle to find “genuine, authentic content” on a given topic due to language issues. For example, for wine connoisseurs, there are certainly plenty of sites about wine, but the commentary of many French experts is inaccessible unless you speak French.
To address that issue, Webflakes has selected 60 established bloggers in Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland and Peru and has licensed the rights to their content in every language except the original. Then a team of volunteers translates their work into English and posts it on the Webflakes site.
For now, neither the blogger nor the translator is paid. Shuchami said the blogger gets exposure to a new audience. Meanwhile, many of the translators also do professional translation work, so this is an opportunity to do something more fun and build their portfolio. Plus, Webflakes will donate $1 for every 500 words translated to the charity of the translator’s choice. And in the future, Shuchami suggested that Webflakes might be able to offer revenue-sharing deals to both groups.
But is the global nature of the content enough to attract readers? One advantage, Shuchami said, is that Webflakes is currently focusing on lifestyle topics where the blogger’s nationality should be a particular draw — not just French writing about wine, but also Italian writing about Italian food, Japanese writing about Japanese architecture, and so on.
I poked around the site this morning — I don’t read a lot of lifestyle content, but I thought the range of topics was pretty interesting. The top trending article right now is a French writer on “How To Wear A Bow Tie.” Also on the front page is a Peruvian writer telling readers to “Invite Your Mother To Peru For Mothers Day!” And the translations are usually quite readable, if not always graceful. (To be fair, that may have as much to do with the original post as the translation. And yes, the writing on English-language blogs can be pretty rough, too.)
Eventually, Shuchami said he hopes to add more writers and translators and to expand to other kinds of content.
As for the funding, it was led by Oren Zeev’s Orens Capital, with participation from Genesis Capital, Audible CEO Donald R. Katz, eBay CTO Mark Carges, Chegg co-founder Aayush Phumbhra, former GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman, former Apax partner Stephen Grabiner, and others.