How to Go Global Fast? Crowdsource Your Translations

Canada-based 500px, the photo-sharing platform that recently broke more than 6M monthly visits, is crowd-sourcing its language translation so it can quickly release the app in seven languages. This move illustrates a trend: as North American startups scale, they need to reach users -- and tap into revenue -- beyond the (albeit large) U.S. market in which they launched.

Localizing software for the top seven markets could take one full-time employee two or three months at a cost of roughly $2K to $3K a market -- based on our back-of-the-envelope calculations.  

Major tech companies understand this already.

In January 2008, Facebook decided to crowd-source language translation of its site. Within a few weeks, the Spanish version of the site went live. By June 2008, users could access Facebook in more than 60 languages.

Twitter launched the Twitter Translation Center in February 2011 to address user needs. At the time Twitter said it had been relying on translation volunteers since 2009 and that more than 70% of Twitter users come from outside of the U.S.

Evgeny Tchebotarev wrote on Google+ that the 500px app was almost ready, but the company was waiting to release the app it was in at least seven languages.

Within three hours of his request from the crowd to translate the 500px the company had translations in four languages: Russian, Portuguese, German and French, but it's not clear how accurate these rapid translations of the app will be. 

UPDATE: "We found that there are communities of 500px users around the globe — they are strong in Germany, Poland, Russia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Switzerland, etc," Evgeny tells LAUNCH via email. 

Evgeny says the company likes the idea of crowdsourcing the translation because its a funner experience and gives the company another opportunity to connected with its most devoted users. 

LAUNCH has contacted Google, Facebook and 500px for comment on localizing their products for the international market. We will update this story if we receive a response.

Evgeny and Oleg Gutsol founded Toronto-based 500px in 2003. In June, the company raised a $525K Series A round from High Line Venture Partners, Deep Creek Capital and ff Venture Capital.


Twitter: @500px  

Evgeny Tchebotarev, Co-founder and Creative Director
Twitter: @tchebotarev