L - R: Jeff Sandford, co-founder; Takaharu Hayashi, CEO

L – R: Jeff Sandford, Co-founder; Takaharu Hayashi, CEO

Website localisation startup Minimal Tech has raised a US$3 million series B round led by SBI Investment Co., Ltd, with participating investors including TOPPAN PRINTING COMPANY LTD., SMBC venture capital Company Ltd., and Adways Incorporated.

The Japan-based company will use the newly-raised capital to increase new hires — especially developers — ramp up product features and increase marketing efforts to boost brand awareness.

Founded in 2014, Minimal Tech’s website localisation software WOVN.io is designed to help developers simplify the process of incorporating multilingual support into their websites. It claims that using its platform, users can localise their websites in mere minutes, and reduce the cost of operating multilingual websites by up to 90 per cent.

Over 8,000 companies currently use WOVN.io. Minimal Tech said in a press release some of its clients are experiencing a twofold increase in conversion rate as a result of WOVN. For now WOVN.io supports up to 27 languages.

Also Read: Why hyper-localisation is key to optimising voice-based SEO

According to Co-founder of Minimal Tech Jeff Sandford, the concept of website localisation is simple, but when you get down to the nitty, gritty details, it is actually more complex than it appears to be.

“There is generally a tradeoff in localisation. You can go really cheap and lose control of the translations of your website (think google translate), most websites don’t do this because there’s not enough control over what other users will see. The other option is to build a full localised solution, and this carries a hefty initial price and continuing maintenance costs,” said Sandford, in an email interview with e27.

WOVN.io is more efficient and cost effective for users because there is no initial fee, and initial development is negligible.

“You can get started by simply inserting a snippet of code into your website. Many of the other challenges arise in the details. How do you detect user language, how do you store and maintain the translation database, SEO, etc. We [WOVN.io] handle all of these cases for you,” said Sandford.

Still, WOVN.io does not cover every possible use case, and Sandford said the team is working hard to roll out new features to address these gaps in the near future. One of these is email localisation.

Bridging the gap

“The common use cases we are thinking of right now is sending an email to a user after a certain action on your website. For example, if a new user signs up and they need to confirm their email address, you will send them a confirmation email. The problem arises when an English user signs up on a Japanese website and they receive a Japanese email, they will not know what to do. We want to solve this problem by creating a simple email localisation service that ties into your website localisation,” said Sandford.

This tie-in is convenient for several reasons. For example, in e-commerce transactions, a customer might wish to purchase a product on a foreign website, and would thus need all pertinent details of their order such as product description and name. With WOVN.io integrated into that e-commerce website, it can apply the same translation for the order email to ensure that there is no gap or confusion in the user experience.

Also Read: t4 common myths about building a website

“We want to keep this as simple as possible and so we will be providing an API so that website developers can send emails to users virtually the same way they already do from code, but by only adding the language you’d like to send the email in. So if a user is currently sending an email with a common function call like this: mail(‘Welcome to WOVN.io’, ‘Thank you for checking us…’, ‘[email protected]’) then they can change it to something like this:
wovn_mail(‘Welcome to WOVN.io’, ‘Thank you for checking us…’, [email protected]’, ‘English’).”

“As for global shipping, there are services that will forward shipments from a domestic Japanese address to an international address. We are working with one of these services to include this as an option for e-commerce sites by simply turning on a setting from their WOVN.io account. We currently only support Japan for this feature, but we plan to expand it to other countries in the future,” concluded Sandford.

Image Credit: WOVN.io