A Small Company’s Reality Is Altered by ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’


By Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen


From the New York Times…


Article Excerpt: “It has been about a month since ABC showed the season finale of “Shark Tank,” the reality show that gives entrepreneurs in search of financing a chance to plead their cases before five tough-talking investors, or “sharks.” At VerbalizeIt, a technology start-up that was part of this season’s final segment, the effects of the show’s appearance can already be quantified.


“The start-up’s co-founders, Ryan Frankel, 29, and Kunal Sarda, 31, promote their company as the world’s only instant, 24-7 “human-powered” translation service. Inspired by a harrowing episode when Mr. Frankel could not communicate the symptoms of a virulent stomach bug to a pharmacist in Beijing, the service takes just 15 seconds to put mobile users in touch with a human translator fluent in both English and any of 11 other languages. In other words, it combines the speed of Google Translate with the precision of a traditional translation service — at least that was the pitch Mr. Frankel and Mr. Sarda made to the sharks.”


Link to full news story.


InterpretAmerica’s take: People across the United States and around the world are becoming much more aware of the need and demanding the ability to communicate across language barriers in a whole new range of ways. So, VerbalizeIt’s PR success on ABC’s Shark Tank should not come as a shock. The New York Times reported that VerbalizeIt’s smartphone app was downloaded 20,000 times within 72 hours after the television program aired and that their daily revenue tripled. The important thing to remember is that this is an entirely new market and is not cutting into existing market segments, at least not yet. Call it consumer language services, call it interpreters on demand, call it whatever you like, but this new startup has proven that making a big splash on national television can easily translate into big business. 

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