Language I/O, a Wyoming-based language service provider (LSP), announced this morning that it has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding — this milestone brings the company’s total amount of funding raised up to $12.1 million.
A woman-owned LSP, Language I/O’s CEO Heather Morgan Shoemaker told MultiLingual that this funding is a major milestone for the company, especially given the fact that female-identifying founders receive a slim minority — according to Inc., just 2.3% in 2020 — of venture capital (VC) funding. Shoemaker spoke with MultiLingual a bit about the company’s plans for 2022, the VC buzz around the language industry, and some of the challenges of their work.
“We’re excited to see all of the VC interest in language-related technology,” Shoemaker said. “It’s clear that the language technology market will continue to grow and to attract investment now that companies are making these purchases central to their internal budgeting processes.”
Founded in 2011, Language I/O is a start-up that provides clients with neural machine translation (NMT) technology specially tailored to a customer’s needs. The company raised $5 million in its first round of funding just last year. According to Language I/O, the start-up’s proprietary core technology identifies the best NMT engine for a company’s needs. It then ensures that acronyms, jargon, product names, and more are translated accurately by imposing the company’s own technology over the selected NMT engine. “Furthermore, our proprietary SIGLO technology improves translation accuracy over time with no required input from the customer,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker added that the company has its eyes set on another realm: chatbots, which are “pervasive” in the industry. “The same core tech that Language I/O provides to enable human agents to chat in any language can now be placed between the chatbot and the customer, making even chatbots multilingual.”
Noting the clear gender bias in VC fundraising and technology, Shoemaker said that she felt she and her team faced more doubt from potential investors during the fundraising process than her male counterparts. After comparing notes and anecdotes with other founders, she said their interactions with potential investors were often quite different.
“My male counterparts would be asked questions like ‘How big could this market become?’ or ‘Where else could we use your tech?’ ” she said. “Whereas the questions I would be asked were generally more negative such as ‘How is what you’ve built any different from Google translate?’ ”
Among the investors on this most recent round of funding are Gaurav Tewari the managing director of Omega Venture Partners, Bob Davoli of Gutbrain Ventures, and Bruce Clarke of PBJ Capital.
“Language I/O is poised to disrupt the $50 billion global language services market,” said Tewari, who was the largest investor in Series A funding for the start-up. “The company has impressed us with its pragmatic approach focused on solving real customer pain points, and has demonstrated exceptional capital efficiency in building its business. We are excited to partner with Language I/O as they scale to the next level.”