"When I first landed in BITS Pilani, after completing my schooling in Madhya Pradesh, the first question I was asked was - were there other students in the bus? I was expected to answer in English, which I had never done in my life. This was my firsthand experience of the language barrier I had faced," says Rakesh Kapoor, Co-founder and CEO, Process9.
This incident left quite an impact on Rakesh, and made him realise that there was a huge opportunity in the domain of vernacular languages. Soon after completing his graduation, Rakesh along with Co founders Devendra Joshi and Vidushi Kapoor, got an opportunity to localise Apple products in Indian languages. They soon joined the local Apple distribution company and implemented Indian languages for Macintosh, for the first time.
Creating a language bridge
From there, the trio saw another opportunity arise in the form of the first popular version of Windows 3.1. After quitting the Apple distributor business they launched Summit and developed Indica - Indian languages Calligraphy, which turned out to be quite popular.
"By this time we saw the next opportunity hit the market in the form of the internet. We saw a big opportunity on translation and transliteration and knew that though the market had a lot of English language content already, it needed to be translated. But this did not work, as the internet was largely used by an English-speaking audience," says Rakesh.
Riding the mobile wave
The team, however, didn't have to wait for long for the next big ticket. This came in the form of the mobile phone. Rakesh and his team realised that the mobile technology could reach the masses and make all products and services available free of language barriers. This gave birth to the MOX Wave.
It is an online, cloud-based machine and machine-assisted translation technology, currently supporting nine Indian languages. The next version the MOX Mobile, a combination of OS translation, keypads and fonts for mobile devices, currently supports 21 Indian languages. The other product in the portfolio is MOX Gateway, which is a non-invasive web site and mobile app localisation platform.
"We are working with close to a dozen mobile device manufacturers, including Gionee, Lava, Intex, iBall, to integrate MOX Mobile in their devices. Over five lakh phones hit the market every month with MOX Mobile pre-integrated. E-commerce companies and content providers are leveraging MOX Wave to translate their content into Indian languages," says Rakesh.
One of the biggest breaks the team received was in the form of a big client - Snapdeal. Proceess9 now translates all of the e-commerce giant’s product portfolio into different languages. The team also works with Makemytrip for the localisation of their mobile content.
However, like any startup, this team too has had to face its own set of challenges. Rakesh says that the team is still battling the lack of awareness on the benefits of early adoption and the urgency of localisation. "Many organisations still think that their customers are comfortable working in English, even though they publish their ads, jingles and taglines in Hindi," says Rakesh.
Process9 was first bootstrapped and subsequently funded by IAN. The team is now looking for Series A round of investment. The company is based out of Gurgaon, but has a sales lead in Bengaluru.
Market and future plans
Rakesh believes that language service provider segment is a USD 38-billion global business, reaching 950 million mobile phones and 300 million internet connections in the country. Less than 15 per cent of the Indian population is English literate. This offers a huge opportunity. To sell your products and services to the entire country, localisation of all communication is the only scalable solution as India is home to a large number of languages.
The team is currently targeting Indian languages and, down the road, expects to add languages from other countries to its portfolio. It also intends to achieve an YOY revenue increase of over 250 per cent and perform over one billion translations per month using MOX Wave.