What would you think if you clicked onto a site and saw this: “Products from us are the most best in the group. We’ve provides services to peoples from around the worlds at the best prices!”
While that’s not taken directly from any website I’ve personally come across (that would just be mean of me), I have to admit that it’s not too far off from some of the stuff I see every day. As someone who spends more time than is probably normal staring at websites, (both for work and personal reasons… aka internet addiction), I have to say one thing: if you’re going to make a site in a language that isn’t your mother tongue, hire a professional translator. Nothing looks less professional than a poorly written and/or translated site and, if anything, poor translations are going to drive customers away from your site, not to it.
At the same time, anyone who has ever done a quick translation in Google Translate knows that, while useful for some basic things, (like “I would like a coffee, please”), it’s just not that great for longer, more complex things, (like “Our company can provide you with the best possible service for all of your software needs.”) The Google Website Translator is also extremely limited.
If you’re looking for a more professional way to translate your website, dakwak is for you. Dakwak provides a tiered system of translation services that allows you to pick and choose based on exactly what you need and what you can pay for it. They also index your translated website with search engines, making it possible for people to find your site with search terms in their own languages.
Founder Waheed Barghouthi and I sat down for a long chat about the origins of dakwak, what sets them apart from the crowd, and all of the new perks you can look forward to in the future.
Where are you located?
We’re based in Amman, Jordan.
I think you’re the first founder I’ve spoken to in Jordan. What’s going on in the startup scene there?
Actually it’s picking up. There are a lot of startups coming up. We’ve been doing dakwak for almost three years now and the whole scene of entrepreneurship and VCs is picking up here.
Why do you think that is?
I see a lot of startups coming up but 99% of them are focused on this region. You probably don’t come across many of them because they’re focusing specifically on this country.
Whereas you guys obviously have a totally global reach.
Right, well, that’s what we’re trying to do.
Well there’s probably no better way to be global than through translation services. I would say that’s a pretty global need right there. Were you one of the original founders of dakwak?
And what inspired you to get that going?
Basically, in 2009 I was in a conference for the Arab region about how to improve the Arabic content, like developing tools for doing Arabic websites.
This is my fifth startup, but only two have succeeded: this and another one. I was thinking, how can we do something for website owners and webmasters that enables them to translate their website from any language to any language? Eventually that will increase all of the other contents, not only the Arabic ones. Basically, if we can easily translate any website we can immediately have that content converted to other languages and those languages will definitely increase traffic.
From that point, I started thinking, how can we start doing a very simple tool for webmasters or business owners to allow them to translate their website? Then I started looking for solutions that existed at that point, like Google Translate. I found that there were a lot of people using Google Translate but it’s not really a very good service. Of course, it’s free but I knew that if we were to do something we would want it to be a paid service, not a free service.
What was your first step in developing dakwak?
So that’s particularly useful if the website owner already speaks the language they’re translating into, right?
Yeah, or if he has some professionals who can help him with the translating, basically adding the crowdsourcing element for that.
Okay, so it’s cheaper this way: they can pay you to do the first translation and then pay someone else to touch it up instead of paying someone to do the whole thing.
Exactly, but that was only the prototype. We built a lot after that point. What happened is we started thinking about the real value for website owners.
I don’t know if you know, but Google Translate doesn’t index your pages into search engines. My prototype was very similar to that because it didn’t let you index your pages into search engines either. If anyone searched in his native language for any phrase that exists in that website, that website wouldn’t appear in those search engines.
That makes a lot of sense because there’s really no point in translating a website if people can’t search for it, is there?
Exactly, exactly. The old solutions like Google Translate and other services and old dakwak didn’t provide that. We’ve evolved from that so that we can now index pages into search engines, as well as a lot of other features that we’re going to tap into now.
You guys also offer professional translation now, right?
Yup. Any website owner could now have his website translated by team members, by machine translation, by professional translation or he could combine all three of them. If he didn’t really need to translate his product names or his product description but instead is focused on translating his homepage and some other pages professionally, he can do just that.
We offer different layers of professional translation as well. There’s the standard professional, business translation, and the ultra-professional one. So basically there are three different levels and each has a different price.
We have good partnerships with different translation services and different translation agencies. One of them is Gengo.com, MyGengo formerly. They do professional translation service API. We’ve integrated our solution with them so most all of the professional translation services go through Gengo. If Gengo doesn’t have the requested pair of languages, we have our own professional translation network that covers those languages.
What makes dakwak different from other website translation services?
The traditional way is you have your own website and you have your own content management system. You can use that CMS to translate or localize your website. That would require you to have a team of developers or programmers and a team of translators in house or translation agencies.
Those are the tools that are needed to do a traditional website translation but with dakwak we’ve eliminated all of those methods. You only need to sign up for dakwak to get your website immediately fully functional and up and running in different languages without doing any coding or any API integration. You control the translation quality because you have the option to do a machine translation or a professional translation at different levels. That’s what we’re trying to bring to people. Less headache and more traffic, is what we say.
What other perks will a user find on dakwak?
We’re improving the website translation and localization experience. We now have analytics for your translated website so you can see how many views you’re getting in the Arabic language or the Spanish language website. You could see what the top pages are for the Arabic website. Those are all trackable through dakwak’s platform.
Some people have noticed that they need not only website translation but that they need email translation support as well. Say you’ve translated your website to Chinese and Chinese people started coming to your website but you don’t understand what they need. If one of them sent you a support email, you wouldn’t be able to read that email.
We’re developing a new tool for that so you can configure your emails as well, using the same technology. You just configure your preferences for your email and it integrates with the website translation. A good percentage of website owners who do translation for their sites will need this support service for their foreign customers. This service will give them at least the minimum support level.
Was that something you thought of from the start or something that evolved out of the process?
It just evolved. It’s really in the production stage right now and we’re going to release it in a month or a month and half’s time.
At this point it’s not really about the translation anymore. It’s about having your website up and running with the translation within a matter of seconds. The translation can be improved using different translation services.
Who are your clients?
We currently have about 25 paying clients, which range from startups to big enterprises. We launched the full product on the 19th of November but we’ve been working on the product for three and a half years.
How many people do you have on your team?
We have five team members, all full time, and we have three people working part time as well.
And you said this is your fifth startup?
Yeah, three startups didn’t succeed but you learn a lot from failure. With the first three I built a good reputation, so this is my real startup.
Do you have any advice for other startup founders?
Choose your partners well. That’s the first rule. The second rule is don’t get venture money unless you have tiny revenues coming in. When you have some tiny revenues coming in, then you can go raise venture money because if you raise it before that, you’ll have a really hard time raising other rounds as well.
Thanks so much Waheed! You’ve got a great product over there at dakwak and I truly, truly hope that every site I come across utilizes your translation services. It only makes sense: Who doesn’t want to expand their market to include the entire world?
Courtesy of founder | dakwak