500 Startups Grad Dakwak Launches Free Translation for SMB Websites


Website translation service Dakwak, an alum of the 500 Startups incubator program, announced this week a freemium model aimed at small-business owners. Small-business owners can try the website’s translation services for no cost; Dakwak uses machine translation to build a translated version of your website in your language of choice. The free and premium services are the same, says founder and CEO Waheed Barghouthi, save for the ability to use your own domain name. Business owners using the free version will have the Dakwak name appended to their URL, while premium users will be able to offer a translated version under their own domain name. The premium service costs $50 per month. Barghouthi says Dakwak is primarily targeting small-business owners engaging in ecommerce. “Customers want to have content in their native language,” says Barghouthi, and having a fully translated website helps build customer loyalty.

He also says small-business owners in the United States without Spanish-version websites are missing out on a lot of potential shoppers. A 2011 study from Pew Research Center found that 37.6 million Americans speak Spanish at home. While Google offers a tool that enables users to quickly translate sites on demand, Barghouthi says there’s an advantage to having a standalone translated SMB website.

“The website will be indexed by search engines because of its unique URL,” says Barghouthi. As a result, he says the site will be ranked higher by search engines when shoppers search for items in their native languages. Barghouthi started working on Dakwak in 2010 and launched the company’s translation service in May 2013. Five months ago, the company closed a $400,000 round, a quarter of which came from 500 Startups. Barghouthi says the company is seeking to close an additional round of funding before Thanksgiving.