Tokyo-Based Conyac Offers Fast And Cost-Effective Social Translation Services

Social translation services have helped the world become a smaller and more manageable place, even for companies with limited financial resources. Based in Tokyo, Conyac has two goals: to replace traditional translation agencies with a quicker and cheaper alternative, and to help Japanese startups expand globally.

Since launching in 2009, Conyac’s base of translators has grown to 10,000 individuals around the world who work in 60 languages. Prices range from $3 per translation to a $100 per month packages, and clients usually get their completed projects back within an hour.

Founded by Naoki Yamada, Conyac (pronounced like cognac) is named after the special konjac jelly in popular Japanese cartoon “Doraemon” that gives characters the ability to speak and understand any languages after they ingest it.

There are several startups that offer crowdsourced translations, including Gengo, which is also based in Tokyo, and OneHourTranslation. Yamada says that Conyac sets itself apart from the competition with its tiered community review process. Conyac’s translators have their finished work evaluated multiple times for accuracy by other translators before it is delivered to clients.

Conyac screenshot

The better their evaluations are, the higher each translator’s overall score, which in turn allows them to take on more translation requests. Each of Conyac’s translators usually get their work evaluated a total of 30 times, says Yamada. Some translators specialize in certain industries or niche topics, like Web site localization.

Conyac also offers Web site localization for Japanese startups looking to expand into other countries. Companies that have used Conyac’s services include Nulab, a real-time collaboration platform, and SD Japan, which posts news articles originally written in other languages. Conyac translates their Web sites, apps and social games into English and other languages and localizes them for SEO.

To date, Conyac has raised $500,000 in funding from investors Skylight Consulting, Samurai Incubate, United and ANRI. The company currently has 20 employees in Tokyo and San Francisco, and plans to open offices in Singapore and Luxembourg soon.

Yamada is excited about his company’s growth opportunities. For the first two years of operation, Conyac did not generate a revenue, but since last year, it has made about $50,000 a month. Most of Conyac’s customers are Japanese companies, while translators are mainly located in Japan and other Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand and China.

“If we improve the quality of our translations, we can replace the current market of translation agencies,” says Yamada. “It’s a big market.”