Jordan might not seem like the most obvious place for a tech hub, but the country is leading the Middle East’s growing startup industry. 500 Startups’ current class features two Jordanian companies, including Dakwak, a Web site translation and localization platform that wants to help small- to medium-sized businesses go global in the shortest amount of time possible.
The company, which launched its current platform six weeks ago, was founded in 2009 by Waheed Barghouthi after he attended a conference about how developers can help increase the amount of Arabic language content on the Internet.
“I wanted to make simple tools for Web site owners to translate their sites in an easy way, that would not only increase Arabic content, but also content in all languages. Many business owners are still in the mindset that 70% of the world’s population speaks English, but that number is only about 27%,” says Barghouthi. In addition to 500 Startups, Dakwak’s investors include Jordanian accelerator program Oasis500, Silicon Badia Ventures and IV Holdings.
When customers first sign up for Dakwak’s platform, all they need to enter their Web site’s URL and select a target language. Dakwak’s least expensive option is a machine translation, while professional translations are performed by Gengo’s translators. Translated Web sites, which have their own language subdomain, are stored on Dakwak’s servers, allowing the startup’s team to make quick updates. Dakwak’s clients have access to a dashboard that allows them to order and review new translations and then publish it to their Web site.
“There’s no email back-and-forth with translators. You can send your guidelines, but there is no operational headache,” says Barghouthi. “Web site owners just need to keep sending new content, and it comes back translated. If you have a lot of information to maintain, the network is the right solution because you don’t have to manage your Web site’s translation.”
Since launching its full platform six weeks ago, Dakwak has signed 30 customers, with the most-requested translated languages being English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, French and Arabic. The company currently has five employees and offices in Jordan and Mountain View. Barghouthi’s goals for the next four to five months are to find more distribution channels in the U.S. and build the platform’s user base.