The United States is known as the “melting pot.” From all over the world, people from various backgrounds come together to both visit, work and live in the States. As such, there are many languages flowing into the country. The problem that often arises from this is that everyone needs to be able to understand each other in literally every situation possible.
With smart devices in the hands of most people, it can be easy to rely on those to help interpret languages from time to time. An aspect that may be lacking from the available online resources is nuances in both tone of voice and meaning. While an online resource may offer up a very straightforward interpretation, real-life interpreters have the capability to convey contextual assistance.
One company hoping to help bridge the language gap with its on-demand linguists is startup app platform company, Interpreter Tap. Through using its app, people can instantly request an interpreter for help on any topic. We sat down with one of Interpreter Tap’s Co-Founders, Victor Arellano, to learn more about the company’s app and how it’s helping to connect people.
PYMNTS: What’s the story behind how Interpreter Tap started?
VA: Interpreter Tap started over a conversation between myself and Victor Abundis (friends for about 20 years). While Abundis was talking about working as an interpreter, as well as teaching certification classes for interpreters, I had just completed an on-demand dispatch system for people with disabilities on behalf of the city of Chicago. Abundis had expressed there was a shortage of interpreters. For example, when a non-English-speaking patient walks into an emergency room to seek medical attention, an issue can occur where an interpreter may be unavailable for that particular patient’s spoken language. That can become a major obstacle for the patient and the doctor.
After a long conversation between the myself and Abundis, a light bulb turned on. I said, “Let’s just create an app that you can get ahold of anyone that speaks a particular language instantly,” and Abundis agreed. I shadowed Abundis for about four to six months to fully grasp the needs of the industry. And that is how Interpreter Tap was born!
PYMNTS: In your own words, what is Interpreter Tap about?
VA: Interpreter Tap breaks down the walls for language barriers, allowing efficient and effective communication regardless of the spoken language. Interpreter Tap provides interpreters on-demand via video call or voice call, and can provide document translation as well. In this day and age, when you have the ability to order food or get a ride from your cell phone, there’s no reason why you can’t get an interpreter the same way.
PYMNTS: How does the pricing model work, and how does Interpreter Tap get paid?
VA: Interpreter Tap charges a per minute rate. For businesses that are looking to use our services more frequently, we are considering offering bundle packages for them. For example: 1,000 interpreting minutes for “x” amount of dollars. Our pricing plans will be cost-effective and affordable for individuals and/or companies.
PYMNTS: Who does Interpreter Tap see as its competition?
VA: I’d rather not name drop here, but our competition is minimal. Traditional interpreting companies will feel threatened by us because we will be disrupting the industry and how interpreters are hired. In the past, hospitals, medical clinics, attorneys, immigration offices or courts hire an interpreter. You must hire an interpreter for two hours minimum, plus pay for their mileage. Let’s say the interpreter is there for ten minutes and lives 30 miles away; you still need to pay for the additional time and mileage.
With Interpreter Tap, you pay only for the time you use. There are a couple of companies that provide interpreters via VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) and by telephone. But when you make a telephone call, you have to be connected to a dispatcher, who will then locate an interpreter and connect you on a call. The VRI currently used in the industry is an old and outdated system. We are going to eliminate the middleman and connect you instantaneously with an interpreter, which saves time, money and, potentially, lives.
PYMNTS: Does Interpreter Tap have any future projections for where it hopes to grow within the next few years?
VA: We intend for our app to be used as frequently as you would use apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, GrubHub, Youtube, etc. Whether you are traveling on vacation, at a doctor’s appointment or [are] an individual affected by a travel ban, we will have an interpreter ready and waiting for you. We are facilitating meaningful communication regardless of the spoken language.
PYMNTS: How many rounds of funding has Interpreter Tap received? Are there plans to seek funding?
VA: Interpreter Tap is self-funded. We are interested in funding if there’s a good fit between the investor and Interpreter Tap.
PYMNTS: What does the term “Uber of X” mean to you, and how does Interpreter Tap fit that mold?
VA: Uber of X refers to services similar to Uber, who aim at disrupting a particular industry and delivering services at the tap of a button. Interpreter Tap fits that model because with the tap of a button, you will be instantly connected to an interpreter.
PYMNTS: What are Interpreter Tap’s 2017 goals?
VA: Keep breaking down walls and utilizing our technology to improve communication for everyone.