In Echelon 2013, which happened earlier this month, there were many startups who joined and led movements in Asia. One particular session which got everyone’s attention was the startup pitches, where 10 teams presented on stage. But of course, there can only be one to emerge as champion. We interviewed Jimmy Haver from WayGo, Echelon 2013′s Most Promising Startup.
thumbsup: First of all, I would like to congratulate you for winning the Most Promising Startup award at Echelon 2013 again. Could you introduce yourself and WayGo?
Jimmy: Waygo is a smartphone based visual translator. The goal is to break down the communication barrier for travelers in other countries. We hope that they can experience more local culture by being able to eat in places without English menus, and navigate the areas that only have signs in local languages.
The current goal is to do Japanese-English and Korean-English by the end of the year. Maybe in the future we can do a Thai-English version because so many people have been requesting it! We also want to look at European languages and other language pairs that have high demand like Chinese-Japanese, English-Chinese, etc.
Ryan, the CEO, was studying in China and he had a lot of trouble ordering food because he could not read the menu. He thought if it can be handled on a smartphone than things would be much easier. The key features are real-time OCR and translation all offline. No need for internet connection after you download it!
thumbsup: Before you created WayGo, did you have any product in the market?
Jimmy: Waygo is our first product as a company, but previously most of us have experience developing other mobile phone apps before starting or working at Waygo.
thumbsup: How is the WayGo application on smartphones? Do you have a business or revenue model for WayGo?
Jimmy: Currently you can download Waygo for free and use it for 100 translations. If you want to continue using it, you can do an in-app purchase for unlimited use. Currently it is on sale for $4.99. We are looking for partners at the moment to help push the product, and would consider B2B with the right partner, potentially licensing the software to other businesses.
thumbsup: What will we see in the next version of WayGo?
Jimmy: In the next version there will be improved UI, improved app on-boarding, improved translation and more entries in the dictionary. In a couple of months the Japanese version will be released as well.
thumbsup: How is it going in your local smartphone application market?
Jimmy: Currently we have 40,000 users and growing at a rate of 20 percent every month. Active users use it about 80 times per week.
thumbsup: In your opinion, what do you think about the current startup ecosystem in asia and also in Taiwan?
Jimmy: Taiwan is currently a great place to find developers. Asia in general is growing and very active users! A lot of great products are originating from Asia so it is a very exciting time.
thumbsup: At the end, what would you like to mention for Thai startup who read this interview?
Jimmy: We also met many great startups from Thailand like the Echelon winners from last year, Builk, and this year, Stamp. While I am not super familiar with the startup scene in Thailand, I know it has a number of interesting markets like a large domestic market, large expat market and large tourism market that should offer a number of opportunities, low unemployment rate and steady growing economy.
… My message is “Keep working hard and I hope to see more Thai startups at Echelon 2014!”
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