Tokyo-based Minimal Technologies, the startup behind multilingual website localization service Wovn.io, today announced it secured US$3 million in series B funding, led by SBI Investment. New investors Toppan Printing, SMBC Venture Capital, and Adways participated in the round.
It will use the money to further develop the service and run marketing campaigns, says co-founder and CTO Jeff Sandford.
Launched in 2014, Wovn provides website translations for the 27 most popular languages on the web. But it’s nothing like translation services such as Google Translate or the “Translate” button at the top of your Chrome browser. The difference is customizability.
Wovn allows users to translate a website through its widget, which is hidden in a single line of code in the site’s HTML header. With the service, a person managing a site can edit whatever Wovn renders on their screen, giving them control over what the visitors are seeing.
“The service offers up to 90 percent reduction in operating costs of multilingual websites, and websites have seen conversion rates double as a result of localizing with Wovn,” Jeff claims. Over 8,000 companies use the service, which offers free but limited access, and subscriptions starting from US$44 per month.
Jeff says demand for localization is expected to increase across Japan, driven in part by the growth of foreign tourism – especially in less populated areas. There’s also an influx of tourists expected in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The team is working to add new features to the service, including localization of emails and site layouts.
A common use case is when a website sends an email to a user after a certain action. For example, an English user signs up on a translated Japanese website. Without email localization, that user will still receive an email in Japanese and will not know what to do.
“We want to keep this as simple as possible and we will be providing an API so that users [will only need to add] the language they’d like to send the email in,” explains Jeff.
As far as site layout works, the idea is to have a different look for each of your site versions. “Sometimes users want to hide a piece of content that doesn’t apply in a different language and sometimes they just want a different aesthetic.”
The startup will also soon provide multi-currency and global shipping support for ecommerce sites using Wovn.
“Ecommerce sites translate their sites into English, for instance, but their customers are hesitant to pay in their original currency such as yen or euro, etc. So we want to provide a simple solution for our users so that they can offer multiple currency options easily and we’re investigating partnerships to help provide this solution,” Jeff says.
He adds they plan to work with a service that lets ecommerce sites forward shipments to an international address. “We will only support Japan for this feature initially, but we will expand it to other countries in the future.”
Converted from Japanese yen. Rate: US$1 = 113.45 yen.
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