TextMaster, the Belgium startup that offers a platform for content translation, copywriting and proofreading, has raised a new $5 million round of funding, adding to the approximately $3 million previously raised since being founded in 2011. The lead investor is Serena Capital, along with existing backer Alven Capital.
The company, which was co-founded by ‘startup studio’ Efounders, originally pitched itself as a crowdsourced alternative to traditional translation and other copywriting services, something that I previously described as similar to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk but for a very specific niche.
It offers a platform, including an API and various integrations, such as WordPress, Magento, Transifex, and Microsoft Office, to connect content creators to freelance copywriting/editing professionals who have each gone through a quality vetting process and are paid per-word.
To date, TextMaster claims more than 5,000 customers in 80 countries and nearly 100 million words processed. As a result, it’s predicting revenues of over $10 million next year, with international sales accounting for more than half. The translation market as a whole is pegged to be worth $40 billion, according to the 4-year-old startup.
“I think our biggest challenge is to consolidate a fragmented demand and build a global brand in the translation industry. The translation market is highly fragmented with about 25,000 translation service providers worldwide. That makes a lot of competition even though they’re providing translation services the old fashion way,” TextMaster CEO Thibault Lougnon tells me.
To that end, he says the new capital will be used to invest in international development — where the current focus is Europe, especially Germany and the U.K. — along with R&D.
“We’re investing on translation tools for clients and translators which include the segmentation and storage of any type of document, live translation memories, glossaries, auto-checks, integrations with third-party services and so on. We’re also working on new exciting features that will make it even simpler to order professional translation online.”
Interestingly, Lougnon isn’t one of TextMaster’s original founders, nor its first CEO. Instead he took over from co-founder and previous CEO Benoit Laurent two years ago, who I understand left the startup and is thought to be no longer a shareholder.
That appears to be somewhat of a pattern with Efounders startups. According to one report and my own sources, the startup studio has a high turnover of C-level execs in its portfolio companies and takes an unusually large amount of equity, meaning it often has control of the company’s board.
When asked why Laurent left, a spokesperson for TextMaster told me: “Benoit was one of the four co-founders of TextMaster. Three of them are still with the company but Benoit left two years ago. Thibault Lougnon took over the management from then on.”
Meanwhile, the startup is continuing to add to its headcount. “We’re now 25 people and plan to hire about as many within the next twelve months,” says Lougnon. “The teams split quite equally in 3 departments: R&D, sales & marketing, and production management.”