Not lost in translation: Start-ups go regional to speak consumers’ language

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on January 04, 2018

Add non-English digital content to expand reach

The Aspiring Indian start-ups are increasingly adopting regional languages to reach out to the masses.

BetterButter, a recipe-sharing platform that offers 50,000-plus recipes in English, Hindi, Tamil and Marathi, is all set to add Telugu, Gujarati and Bengali in the first quarter of 2018-19. “Ours is the largest user-created data content in India with over 5,000 videos and recipes added per month,” Sukhmani Bedi, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO), told BusinessLine.

Its Hindi service, launched in March 2017, has seen over two lakh hits, and Tamil more than 25,000. The Marathi version, opened in December 2017, has crossed 5,000 hits.

Tapping opportunities

Credihealth was launched by Ravi Virmani in January 2014 as an interface between patients and doctors/hospitals. “Since 80 per cent of our patients are from smaller towns and cities, and are uninsured and cash-payers, we began to adopt local languages for them to understand what they were paying for. We have so far launched our services in Hindi, Tamil and Kannada, and are now adding a language every month — Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati and others.

He said the market for English-speaking Indians was virtually “saturated,” and it made perfect business sense to go expand the language base to tap emerging opportunities.

In the next couple of years, Virmani said, around 80 crore Indians are expected to have smartphones with 4G technology, and most of them will be using mobile phones to access services, thus increasing regional digital consumption. “The number of our users has increased 10-12 per cent in the last four months.”

Credihealth gets nearly nine lakh hits a month, and services 3,000 patients,.

Mayank Bhangadia, co-founder and CEO, started Roposo, a social entertainment platform founded in 2014, said: “Apart from English, we recently launched our interface in eight regional languages — Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. In a short span of time, we noticed an increase of 18 per cent in the time spent by Telugu users, 16.3 per cent in Kannada and 15 per cent by Hindi users.”

Roposo now plans to further introduce apps in Malayalam, Odiya, Assamese and other languages. Over 60 per cent of rural users consider language a barrier to access the internet, Bhangadia said. Increased use of Indian languages on the internet will be a relief to them. Also, one can share content without running the risk of the message being lost in translation, he said.

According to a KPMG-Google study, he said, by 2021 an expected 201 million Hindi users — 38 per cent of the Indian internet user base — will be online. The growth of any website or app will be possible only if they are able to expand and increase their audience beyond English-speaking netizens who are already a part of the online hub.

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Published on January 04, 2018
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