For expat founders entering the China market, and for Chinese travelers visiting overseas countries, the language difference is the first and essential problem they run into. Aiming to help people have a conversation regardless of their language difference, Travis the Translator recognizes and translates speech in 80 of the most common languages within two seconds and is now launching in China.

Google Translation can be of help, but it eats up your battery if you’re up for a longer period translation work. Targeting China market, Dutch startup is now selling Travis devices through their WeChat public account and will start receiving retail orders starting from the end of May. Their crowdfunding campaign just got funded 746% of their modest $80,000 goal on Indiegogo, summing up to US$ 596,848 with 1 day to go.

The market is huge. There are 7.5 billion people in the world using 7,097 languages, and the 83% speaks only one language. Priced at US$ 139, the translator is a handheld, pocket-sized device and comes with a matching Android app. We couldn’t try out the translation, but Travis sure was light and compact in size.

Travis the Translator (Image Credit: TechNode)

The Rotterdam-based company is using IBM and Google’s existing AI principle on translation. They use Google Translate for some language and translates other languages using apps from Microsoft, Systran, IBM and 2 apps that the company refused to disclose. The company does not have an in-house AI scientist.

“The more we use, the better it gets. IBM and Google’s existing AI needs more data to get better. We use our app as an umbrella and link with their open source software,” Lennart Van der Ziel, co-founder & CEO Travis the translator told TechNode at an event in Shanghai.

OLE (Open Learning Education) and Travis partnered to donate 200 devices to refugee centers in Turkey so that they can encourage them to learn a new language. The team is also working closely with the Rotterdam city government. With its 12 hour battery, they are looking to have 100 devices in the tourist center, so that tourists can take the translator and use it for one day.

Lennart Van der Ziel, co-founder & CEO Travis the translator (Image Credit: TechNode)

Lennart Van der Ziel, co-founder and CEO of Travis the Translator studied law in Rotterdam and decided to leave his position to pursue his dream.

“Lawyer is about fixing the problem of the businesses. When I thought about it, I wanted to work ahead something and have lawyers to help me. I don’t want to solve someone else’s business matters,” Lennart says.

The 29-year-old Dutch founder started a Venture Cafe in Rotterdam, where a huge community of investors and entrepreneurs gathered and also where Lennard teamed up with other co-founders.

To enter the China market, the company is furthering its presence in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shenzhen.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at

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