#Asia Language translation sends Carousell into a tizzy, so FB lends a hand


Through FbStart, the social media’s programme to help mobile startups grow and build their apps, Carousell found its solution in Transifex

Dan Neary, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Facebook, speaking at the FbStart Roadshow in Singapore last week. (Image credit: FbStart)

Dan Neary, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Facebook, speaking at the FbStart Roadshow in Singapore last week. (Image credit: FbStart)

With over 26 million listings to date and eight million items sold, the number of interactions that take place between buyers and sellers on Carousell’s peer-to-peer marketplace app and web platforms are in all likelihood bountiful as well.

In October this year, one of the more extraordinary interactions took place between a seller of an electric bicycle and his prospective buyer.

Originally selling for S$699 (US$496), the bike was offered by the seller — a man named Wayne Lim — to a user (with the username of ‘keesoon9’) for S$500 (US$355) after the latter requested a discount.

At this point, Lim did not know yet that the prospective buyer was a man in his 60s whose income came from his job as a postman cycling around Housing Development Board (HDB) estates delivering mail.

The old man had grown tired of cycling and wanted to purchase an ebike that could accommodate a box at the rear — just the type that Lim was selling — to store his mail as he commuted.

Lim only found out about the old man’s age and background when they met for the latter to view the ebike. Upon learning the old man’s situation and purpose for the ebike, Lim wanted to give it to him for free. But the old man insisted on paying and the pair settled on S$50 as payment for the ebike eventually.

“My best seller and don’t [sic] forget for life,” the old man wrote as a review for Lim on Carousell.

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Carousell Head of Digital Marketing, Arun Kumar, recounted this story, which was first told by Singaporean community news website Mothership, at the Singapore stop — the last in APAC after Taipei, Hong Kong, South Korea, Bangalore, and Gurgaon — of the FbStart World Tour held at the NTUC Trade Union House last week.

With three different tracks (pre-launch, bootstrap and accelerate) catering to mobile startups at different stages of growth, FbStart is designed to help these startups build, grow and monetise their apps with free tools and services provided by Facebook and its more than 30 partners.

Carousell was one of those invited to join the accelerate track. As at October this year, it is one of more than 7,200 startups accepted into the FbStart programme. Of this number, over thirty per cent are based in APAC.

“It (FbStart) introduced us to two partners, one of which was Mobile Action, which helps us with app store optimisation. Most importantly, we were introduced to Transifex,” said Kumar.

Transifex would help solve the problem of translating copy from English to Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia for their apps for the Malaysian and Indonesian markets, which they were launching in 2013. The process that they were relying on, involving the community leads or translators in both locations, and the engineers or developers back in Singapore, had been tedious and subject to errors and inconsistencies.

“Every time there was copy to be translated, it would be sent to our community leads or translators in every market. They [the community leads or translators] would get the copy, make the translations and then send the link to the same Evernote (a cross-platform freemium app designed for note-taking, organising and archiving) file [where the translations were made] back to our engineers or developers. And then they [the engineers or developers] would update the code base with the translated copy,” said Kumar.

After they discovered Transifex, a localisation platform for translating web apps, through FbStart, the process of translation and updating the code base happened all in one place.

“It’s something that we would not have discovered otherwise [without FbStart] because we didn’t know to look for a solution for the problem that we were facing. We thought we could just deal with going with our usual process forever. It streamlined the translations,” concluded Kumar.

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