This NYC Startup Figured Out How to Make Businesses Go Global Overnight and Raised $830K



So imagine that you could test what the demand for your product or service would be in another country, in a cost-efficient and technology seamless manner, nearly overnight. Wouldn’t that be powerful?

That’s what VerbalizeIt is all about. The Techstars alums help companies who have never before experienced the need for translation to evaluate market demand and when ready, amplify their brand across languages and multiple mediums of communication.

Verbalizeit is human powered translation for business. That’s right. It’s people!

But there’s more to it than that: VerbalizeIt is also the antidote for the headaches associated with traditional translation providers and they’re helping their experienced enterprise clients receive better, faster and more sophisticated translation solutions. Pretty neat, huh, and how, you might ask, do that make that possible? With a platform powered by some 20,000 live translators who can handle more than 150 languages and dialects – and with expertise in more than 50 industries.

Context is everything.

Founder Ryan Frankel spells it all out in plain English.

Who were your investors?

FG Angels (part of Techstars founder Brad Feld’s Foundry Group), Walter Winshall, Galvanize and an anonymous investor.

Tell us about your product.

VerbalizeIt is a technology platform that empowers businesses access to a community of 20,000 curated language translators. We provide website, document, video and mobile app translation to companies looking to better engage with a global customer-base. VerbalizeIt supports language translation across 150+ languages.

How is it different?

VerbalizeIt is the world’s most easily accessible translation platform, enabling companies to go global nearly overnight. In addition to supporting language translation across 150 languages, we also enable companies to amplify their brand voice across multiple mediums of communication, including web, mobile, video and text.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

VerbalizeIt is attacking the $37 billion outsourced translation market. 

What’s the most widely-requested language translation?

Spanish continues to lead the way, but Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese are moving up the ranks fast!

What’s your business model?

VerbalizeIt customers pay per word of translation or per minute of phone-based interpretation. Many customers also opt to pay a nominal monthly subscription for access to a Premier Concierge service and to receive significant cost-savings associated with translation memory.

What was the funding process like?

Fundraising is always time-consuming, especially for businesses aspiring to align themselves with the most value-added capital. With that said, our existing investors and early mentors stepped up quickly to support and take part in our exciting future.

RVF Headshot[1][1]

Ryan Frankel

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

Time spent away from our core business. Capital raising is time-intensive, and every minute spent raising capital was one less minute we could spend scaling our company. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff, with near-term costs but long-term benefits.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

We have a great team in place that is well-positioned to tackle the exciting opportunities ahead of us. That, coupled with our proven traction to-date, the size of the market and the increasingly aligned demographics of businesses internationalizing.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We’ll continue to strengthen our technology platform, bring on additional team-members and scale our business development efforts to support businesses wishing to translate their content to reach the global audience. 

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

New York is the perfect place to be an entrepreneur. Close your laptop and get out in front of the community of entrepreneurs, investors, customers, suppliers and media. Doing so will help you build your brand and you’ll garner some amazing feedback in the process – the combination of which will help strengthen your company and consequently, your capital raising potential.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

We’re focused on scaling the top of the funnel and increasing the number of companies with whom we engage. We know that everyone we talk to isn’t ready to go global today, but there’s a good chance they’ll be in a position to do so in the future and we want to get in early and be a sounding-board to support internationalization whenever the time is right.

Did appearing on SharkTank help your company at all?

Yes, but not for the reasons that you might think of. For us, being on Shark Tank gave us an opportunity to expose the team and community of translators behind VerbalizeIt who don’t always receive the recognition that they deserve. When we filmed for Shark Tank, we were a B2C travel app and by the time the episode aired, we had pivoted into a full-service translation platform. Thus, being on the show was great exposure, but the business was very different at time of airing than it was when we filmed a year earlier.

What’s your favorite native NY-brewed beer?

I’m not a big beer drinker anymore. I love a good glass (or bottle) of wine – I’m not terribly picky and in New York, I’ve had some great wine from the Finger Lakes and Long Island. My favorites are from South Africa, Austria, Germany and California.



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