The translation, interpreting, and localization technology space is hot. In the space of less than 3 months, private equity giant Carlyle bought a majority stake in Memsource RSI platform Kudo raised USD 6m, and MT curator Intento USD 3m. Now comes Latvia-based Lokalise. The SaaS startup has raised USD 6m in a Series A round led by one of the three co-founders of VC firm Mosaic Ventures, Mike Chalfen, who now invests on his own.
Lokalise is a tech-only SaaS translation and localization management company. Prior to this Series A the company was bootstrapped.
Petr Antropov, Lokalise Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer, told Slator that other investors included Vienna-based capital300 and a number of high-profile angel investors, such as
This is a very experienced group of people that is now incentivized to help Lokalise accelerate growth from what Antropov said is currently USD 4m in annual recurring revenue (ARR) — an impressive number given that Lokalise was started by Antropov and Co-founder and CEO Nick Ustinov as recently as 2017.
Antropov declined to discuss valuation. He said the company has, at present, 1,500 customers, grew 80% year-to-date, and employs 60 full-time equivalents.
Lokalise is not Antropov and Ustinov’s first venture. In the late 1990s, CEO Ustinov developed the first email service in Latvia, called Inbox.lv, which remains popular to this day. According to Forbes, another Ustinov project was the Roamer app, which helped avoid mobile phone roaming fees when traveling: “The backend created to ease localization to different languages proved to be a product with market demand, and later became Lokalise.”
Prior to Lokalise CRO Antropov co-founded social network service OK.ru (sold to the Mail.ru Group) and streaming provider Megogo.net. Given that entrepreneurial trajectory it is quite interesting the duo would choose localization as their next project.
Lokalise appears to have found rapid traction with developers at fast-growing tech businesses and listed Notion, Revolut, and Lemonade as clients in the press release accompanying the funding announcement.
Antropov told Slator that localization of mobile apps, games, websites, IoT, and standalone software currently contribute in equal measure to revenues. The startup does not want to limit itself to a particular corner of the market, however, and Antropov said they are targeting tech-savvy companies using all possible platforms and technologies.
Scaling across different verticals and customer segments has, historically, been hard for translation management systems, as the need for custom features escalates as more and larger customers are onboarded.
Antropov is confident they can overcome the challenge. He said, “We believe that we’ll be able to develop approximately 200 major features, which can serve most of the customers. The demand for thousands of custom features should eventually fade out allowing the industry to leap forward.”
Lokalise is a tech-only company and has no plans to provide services, Antropov said. Unlike fellow VC-funded startup Smartcat and others, they have no plans to launch a translation marketplace. According to Antropov, “Most of our customers have their own arrangements with internal or external translators. But for those who either don’t or would like to explore other options, we make introductions to the LSPs that are experienced with Lokalise.”
The Lokalise client base is firmly with the enterprise. Asked if language service providers (LSPs) make up a meaningful proportion of their client base, Antropov replied, “It’s difficult to say since LSPs come along with our corporate customers who pay the bills.”
The battle for ownership of the enterprise is on as tech-only providers step up their efforts to lock in corporate localization buyers and relegate LSPs to a resource on someone else’s platform. Lokalise’s USD 6m Series A will only add to what has been an accelerating trend over the last few years.
On how the pandemic has impacted the business, Antropov said the company had been experimenting with work from home (WFH) even prior and the “decision to turn fully remote did not cause difficulties but actually increased the productivity.” He added that WFH now allows them to access the global talent pool — which, combined with millions in funding, will see Lokalise go on a hiring spree over the coming months.
As regards customers, Antropov said that “Covid required us to focus our activities on geo and industries that suffered less. At the same time, many companies started to localize their products and services more intensively, since localization can open new markets while existing markets can stagnate.”
Image: Lokalise Founders Petr Antropov (L), Chief Revenue Officer, and Nick Ustinov, CEO
笔译、口译和本地化技术一直是热点领域。 在不到3个月的时间内，私募股权巨头凯雷集团（Carlyle）先是斥资600万美元收购了Memsource RSI平台Kudo的多数股权，而后斥资300万美元收购MT curator Intento。 现在轮到拉脱维亚的Lokalise公司上线。 这家SaaS初创公司通过a轮融资600万美元，由风投公司Mosaic Ventures的三位联合创始人之一Mike Chalfen领投，他现在自己进行投资。
Lokalise并非Antropov和Ustinov的第一家企业。 上世纪90年代末，首席执行官Ustinov在拉脱维亚开发了第一个电子邮件服务，名为Inbox.lv，至今仍受欢迎。 据福布斯报道，Ustinov的另一个项目是Roamer应用程序，该应用程序可避免旅行时的手机漫游费用：“为简化本地化为不同语言而创建的后端被证明是具有市场需求的产品，后来成为Lokalise。”
在Lokalise之前，CRO Antropov共同创建了社交网络服务OK.ru（出售给Mail.ru集团）和流媒体提供商Megogo.net。 考虑到企业家的发展轨迹，有趣的是二人组将选择本地化作为他们的下一个项目。
Antropov相信他们可以克服挑战。 他说：“我们深信有能力开发大约200个主要功能，这些功能可以为大多数客户提供服务。 对数千种自定义功能的需求最终将逐渐消失，从而使该行业得以飞跃发展。”
Antropov说，Lokalise是一家纯技术的公司，没有计划提供服务。 与其他由风险投资资助的初创公司Smartcat和其他公司不同，他们没有计划推出翻译市场。 Antropov表示：“我们的大多数客户与内部或外部翻译人员都有自己的安排。 但是对于那些不愿意或想探索其他选择的人，我们将介绍Lokalise经验丰富的LSP。”
图片:Localise创始人Petr Antropov（左），首席收入官和Nick Ustinov，首席执行官