Evidently, the brothers Topolosky stepped into a huge and growing market. Before there was a translated chat application, text that came across a handheld in a foreign language met a painful pause by the receiver. It was slow and tedious to translate, and in the interim, the sense of a quick friendly touch was lost entirely. Enter an elegant solution—TransfireApp. TransfireApp is the first instant message application available anywhere on the planet, with real-time translated chat. With key performance indicators showing more than 610,000 downloads from over 60 countries, the appetite for instant translation may be taking off like the 49ers.
We sometimes take for granted that ‘LOL’ or ‘BFF’ is understood on the other end. After all, we all speak English, don’t we? No, not all of us, and as the world gets smaller and connecting on social networks becomes ever more commonplace, TransfireApp, the first instant messaging translation app for the iOS system, is growing like gangbusters.
Breaking down language barriers as social networks grow and smartphone usage booms
Need to ask a question of the family that you lived with, last summer in France? Do you wish to let your Japanese college buddies know the latest news from the old stomping grounds? Sitting in your kitchen in North Carolina, and hoping to chat with your niece in Armenia? Cue a technology startup entitled TNT Creations, to break down language barriers and make it simpler to communicate globally.
Elik and Jonathan Topolosky founded TNT Creations in 2010. “I remember looking at smartphones starting to boom. I saw how addictive they were. The technology was getting better and better, and as my brother and I are big thinkers, we decided to start a company to roll out one product to capitalize upon the exploding app market.”
From an initial list of several potential ideas, a translated chat application emerged as the favorite of investors.
With Gemstone Ventures as the main backer and a virtual team of 12 people continually refining the product, TransfireApp offers both free and paid versions of its software for the iPod touch, iPad and iPhone. It works with Facebook, Gtalk, and Yahoo Messenger. A video on the home page of the website illustrates perfectly how simple it is to employ TransfireApp to translate whatever instant message that one writes, in real-time, for the benefit of friends or business contacts abroad.
Instant chat translation that only requires one party in an instant message conversation to work effectively
The complexity of handling multiple languages, including alphabet-based languages and those with symbols like in Chinese or Japanese, could be daunting, but TransfireApp keeps the complexity well-hidden. In fact, only one person in a conversation needs to have the application installed in order for it to function, making it that much easier to spread.
And spread, it does. The top 5 markets for downloading are the United States, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Kuwait and Japan. However, a huge array of countries are represented among the user base, and in fact, people from all over can and do contact customer service in their native languages, to request assistance.
Generally, people won’t pay for an application unless it comes recommended by someone in their network. So at this stage of the game, the free version of the app is more popular than the paid version, which is right in line with what is expected in the technology world. TNT Creations and investors are banking on the fact that as the reach of TransfireApp widens, their reputation will rise and foment more purchasing. Especially given their first-mover advantage. As Elik Topolosky described the marketplace, “We really have no direct competitors for what we do—integrated instant translation for instant messaging.”
“The main thing is to spend this time to perfect our product and build up the foundation of our user base. And, to make sure it functions as we want it to,” explained Jonathan Topolosky. “For example since our January launch, we’ve had 8 updates to the product.” Which is not surprising, as 600,000+ users serve up suggestions on how to make it better.
In typical startup fashion, it’s a hard-charging, geek culture
As proposed new features go from the “wish list” to actually being concepted, designed, tested and launched, the developers and staff burn the midnight oil. This is literally true, and not just figuratively the case, as the Elik attested, “Our busiest working hours are between 12 midnight and 5am, because that is when most everyone is available.”
Does it sound like a typical technology startup, in an atypical Maryland office?
For the future, the brothers Topolosky are pursuing a desktop version of instant translation. “Our desktop version will allow a user to login for multiple accounts and set the language for each of one’s contacts once, and never have to set it again.”
TransfireApp is well-positioned not only to continue to grow, but also to conquer the instant translation app market, as social networks increase and more colloquial, casual forms of outreach to folks around the globe become the norm. Given the feverish pace of app downloading and a mindset that takes this technology startup beyond mobile to desktop applications, many more folks are going to be talking the language of their family, friends and customers, utilizing instant message translation in the future.
Photo courtesy of TransfireApp.