Unbabel Raises $1.5M To Expand Translation Service, Grow Customer Base

In the interconnected world, machines are too rigid in understanding the nuances in translating languages and humans are too slow for on-the-fly translation. That’s why Unbabel brings robots and humans together to deliver a faster and affordable translation service.

Launched in March and backed by Y Combinator, CEO and co-founder Vasco Pedro says four months later, Unbabel is growing about 15 percent a week in sales and 12 percent a week on the number of editors working on the platform. The company has about 160 paying customers.

Unbabel uses machine learning technology and human translators to help companies bridge language barriers through a scalable and affordable translation process. The company’s API is integrated with the company’s workflow for faster service.

A customer sends content to be translated via email, online order or through Unbabel’s API. Once Unbabel gets it, it is automatically translated and then refined by two human editors. The translated message is then sent back to the customer. Unbabel charges two cents per word, but also offers bulk discounts. Editors earn $8 and anyone can become one if they have good knowledge in 2 or more languages.


The company announced today that it raised $1.5 million in funding from investors such as Jared Fliesler of Matrix Partners and Kevin Rose of Google Ventures, among others. The money will go to expand the company’s engineering and marketing team to increase its customer base.

The company’s biggest challenge is keeping up with demand, and Pedro said sometimes they have had to turn people down. They’re hoping the new funding will help them expand to engage this demand.

Unbabel is releasing its first version of Marvin, a tool that provides automatic feedback to help editors move from being an unpaid editor to a paid editor. Marvin looks at completed translations and assigns a score to gauge how the editor is doing.

marvin solo

Recently, Unbabel also launched the beta version of its Zendesk plugin that allows customer service representatives to support customers in any language.

“Translation should be solved by technology, and we should leave the creative part to humans. If we can help humans be more efficient and sort of focus on things they do best, that’s where you see the key value of this,” Pedro said.

Jared Fliesler of Matrix Partners, one of Unbabel’s investors, in the translation services industry there are two options: machine translation services such as Google Translate, where the quality is okay, or the option of human translation, which goes through a longer process and costs a lot more money.

“We need a system that brings down the cost of translation and raises the quality … so suddenly we can get rid of those language barriers,”  Fliesler said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, basically give you human quality translation, which with time will get faster and faster and hopefully we can get to real-time.”