Pairaphrase Pushes Smart, Secure Language Translation Software

A Royal Oak, MI-based startup focused on language translation software is heading to New York City this fall to compete in Techweek’s Launch competition.

Pairaphrase was founded by Rick Woyde because he thought he could offer a better, more private alternative to Google Translate. Woyde is the longtime owner of Language Arts & Science, a translation management services provider for some of the best-known brands in the world, he said, including auto manufacturers and suppliers. (Those services include translating legal and human resources documents into other languages, translating company websites, and preparing multilingual advertisements and marketing materials.)

Woyde feels the problem with Google Translate is that it’s essentially a “funnel for populating and improving” the tech giant’s search products.

“It’s right there in the Terms of Service—remember, Google is free to use,” Woyde said. “In exchange, you give them license to share and publish your translations. We don’t do that. Everything is scrubbed or saved in the translation memory, which is technology on the back end of the system that runs automatically and can be deleted.”

A few years ago, Woyde began asking his Language Arts & Science customers if they realized Google Translate shared their information, and every single person he asked said no. He then learned that many companies were relying on bilingual employees to provide translations in order to save money, but were also complaining about how lengthy that translation process was.

Woyde saw a business opportunity. By incorporating secure, cloud-based technologies into the translation services process, Pairaphrase could “simplify [cloud technologies] and put them in the companies’ hands to make translation faster.”

Pairaphrase sells businesses subscriptions to its Web application, and it currently has roughly 300 corporate customers, Woyde said. Users choose a source and target language, upload their documents into Pairaphrase, and click the “translate” button. Pairaphrase produces an editable first draft in the form of an InDesign document, along with an accuracy score, which advises users when they need to carefully check the translation for errors. Pairaphrase also learns the words and phrases users prefer over time—the only translation software he knows of on the market to do so, Woyde said—making the system more accurate in future translations.

The 10-person Pairaphrase team will head to New York in October to compete in the Techweek New York Launch competition for early-stage startups. In April, the company reached the semi-finals in the Detroit edition of Techweek’s Launch competition.

In preparation for Techweek New York, Pairaphrase is in the process of creating a pitch deck and assembling a board of directors. (So far, two board members have been appointed, including the president and chief operating officer of Nexteer Automotive, Woyde said.) The company also plans to release an application programming interface (API) and apps for Android and iPhone by the end of the year.

After spending months testing the market and building a prototype before officially launching, Woyde is eager to grow Pairaphrase’s business. However, as someone working as a service provider for multinational corporations, he is cognizant of the anti-globalization movement underway across the world.

“There’s always the opportunity for something good to come out of it,” he added. “A lot of people feel disenfranchised, so maybe a market correction is needed. I don’t think of it as a threat.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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