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Interactio, a remote interpretation platform, grabs $30M after seeing 12x growth during COVID-19 – TechCrunch

Interaction, a remote interpretation platform whose customers include massive institutions like the United Nations, European Commission, and Parliament along with corporates like BMW, JP Morgan, and Microsoft, has closed a whopping $30 million Series A after usage of its tools grew 12x between 2019 and 2020 as demand for online meeting platforms surged during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Series A funding is led by Eight Roads Ventures and Silicon Valley-based Storm Ventures, participation from Practica Capital, Notion Capital, and notable angels such as Jaan Tallinn, the co-founder of Skype, and Young Sohn, ex-chief strategy officer of Samsung.

The Vilnius, Lithuania-based startup offers digital tools to connect meetings with certified interpreters who carry out a real-time interpretation to bridge language divides between participants. It also provides a video conferencing platform that its customers can use to run remote meetings but will happily integrate with thirty-party software like Zoom, Webex, etc. (Last year, it says its digital tools were used alongside 43 different video streaming platforms.)

Interactions interpreters can be in the room where the meeting is taking place or making the real-time interpretation remotely by watching and listening to a stream of the meeting. (Or, indeed, it can support a mix of remote and on-site performance if a client wishes.)

It can also supply all the interpreters for a meeting — and it touts a strict vetting procedure for onboarding certified interpreters to its platform — or else it will provide training to a customer’s interpreters on the use of its tools to ensure things run smoothly on the day.

At present, Interaction says it works with 1,000+ freelance interpreters and touting “strong relations with interpretation agencies” — claiming it can easily quadruple the pool of available interpreters to step up to meet rising demand.

It offers its customers interpretation in any language — and in an unlimited number of languages per event. Last year it says it hosted 18,000+ meetings with 390,000 listeners spread across more than 70 countries.

Now, flush with a massive Series A, Interaction is gearing up for a future filled with increasing numbers of multilingual online meetings — as the coronavirus continues to inject friction into business travel.

“When we started, our biggest competition was simultaneous interpretation hardware for on-site interpretation. At that time, we were on the mission to fully replace it with our software that required zero additional hardware for attendees besides their phones and headphones. However, for institutions, which became our primary focus, hybrid meetings are the key, so we started partnering with simultaneous interpretation hardware manufacturers and integrators by working together on hybrid events, where participants use hardware on-site, and online participants use us,” a spokeswoman told us.

“This is how we differentiate ourselves from other platforms — by offering a fully hybrid solution that can be integrated with hardware on-site basically via one cable.” “Moreover, when we look at the market trends, we still see Zoom as the most used solution, so we complement it by offering professional interpretation solutions,” she added.

A focus on customer support is another tactic that Interaction says it relies upon to stand out — and its iOS and Android apps have high aggregate ratings. (Albeit, there are a bunch of historical complaints mixed in suggesting it’s had issues scaling its service to large audiences in the past, as well as intermittent problems with things like audio quality over the years.)

While already profitable, the 2014-founded startup says the Series A will be used to step on the gas to continue to meet the accelerated demand and exponential growth seen during the remote work boom.

Specifically, the funds will enhance its tech and UX/UI, focusing on ensuring ease of access/simplicity for those needing to access interpretation. Also, upgrading the tools it provides to interpreters (they have “the best working conditions from their chosen place of work”).

It will also be spending to expand its client base — and is primarily seeking to onboard more corporates and other types of customers. (“Last year’s focus was and still is institutions (e.g., European Commission, European Parliament, United Nations), where there is no place for an error, and they need the most professional solution. The next step will be to expand our client base to corporate clients and a larger public that needs interpretation,” it told us.)

The new funding will also be used to expand the size of its team to support those goals, including growing the number of qualified interpreters it works with so it can keep pace with rising demand.

While major institutions like the UN are never going to be tempted to skimp on the quality of translation provided to diplomats and politicians by not using human interpreters (either on-premise or working remotely), there may be a limit on how far professional real-time translation can scale given the availability of real-time machine translation technology — which offers a cheap alternative to support more basic meeting scenarios, such as between two professionals having an informal meeting.

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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