Where can translation technology go? I’m the CEO of Travis the Translator, the first crowdfunded personal translating device on the market. AMA

Nov 8, 2017

I’m Lennart van der Ziel, the CEO of Travis the Translator. Earlier this year, I embarked on a challenge to bridge language barriers and make translation technology accessible to people in all walks of life. Translation technology is progressing rapidly, and while getting our idea into a deliverable product was certainly challenging, we’re already seeing potential in all kinds of situations.

About our crowdfounded solution

Imagine arriving at an airport and trying to explain to a taxi driver where to go to in a language you don't speak, or even trying to communicate to a doctor after an accident in a language you don’t even know. Imagine a refugee arriving in a foreign country and wanting to start their life again without speaking the language at all. At Travis, we want to give everyone the right to be understood!

Travis is a handy device we believe will inspire change, encourage travel and create connections that weren’t previously possible. We can empower the 7.5 billion people in this planet who speak over 6,500 languages to come together and have a casual chat, do business or maybe even fall in love. <3

What’s the Potential for translation technology like Travis

Professional environments - Be it the military, medical environment or the local police - Travis helps basic communication in situations where it’s most needed.

For travel - Shanghai or Paris? Travis helps you to speak to locals, get a cab, order food and drinks or simply ask, "How are you? Where are you from? Where’s a great restaurant?"

As expats & international students - Moving to a new country can be stressful - from organising healthcare to figuring out food options at the grocery store. Travis can't solve all your challenges, but we can make it easier for you to connect with the locals and feel at home.

For cross-cultural families - Have a girlfriend, wife or husband whose family speaks a whole other language? Many of our backers do, and will be using Travis to communicate with the in-laws.

Contact with refugees - Some of our backers are getting a Travis to communicate with refugees. Not only for social work, but  to speak to new neighbours, colleagues and classmates as well. We partner with organisations who help with refugees and aid work and Travis helps bridge language barriers with volunteers and the people they help.

In a globalising world, language differences can lead to social exclusion, dangerous misunderstandings and missed friendships & business opportunities. So call us crazy or naive, but here at Travis, we think we can bring the world together, by making sure we can all have a chat. Are there any other situations you can imagine being benefited by Travis? Let me know below! Otherwise, check out our Crowdfunding Campaign here.




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Physically will the Travis look or perform different then the one early backers have recieved? 

Nov 9, 3:22AM EST0

How did this idea came to your mind?

Nov 8, 1:09PM EST0

How would someone write about your life for a magazine or newspaper?

Nov 8, 3:13AM EST0

Lennart van der Ziel, is an entrepreneur with a social heart. With his 2 co-founders he created a product that was meaningful beyond the reaches of the customer with the goal of breaking language barriers. With Travis they created a community of 20,000 people, 10,000 users and a total crowdfunded amount of $1.40 million. 

Previously Lennart graduated in Business Law and Financial Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam, led multiple international sales and business development teams at a scaleup and was part of the founding team of Venture Café Rotterdam, a thriving community of entrepreneurs, innovators and investors.

Nov 8, 12:20PM EST0

What other CEOs do you look up to?

Nov 7, 9:44PM EST0

Only one: ELON MUSK

Nov 8, 12:16PM EST0

What will happen if I'm not in a Wi-Fi zone?

Nov 7, 8:01PM EST0

For the best performance you can put it in a  (prepaid) simcard, which you could be anywhere in cities and on airports

Nov 8, 12:21PM EST0

What has been the biggest let down in your career so far?

Nov 7, 5:48PM EST0

Having to take 6 months to find a new job earlier. But at the other hand that was very meaningful because it gave me the time to get to know myself better. Yours?

Nov 8, 12:22PM EST0

How are your communication skills?

Nov 7, 3:29PM EST0

I think above average. Can you specify your question?

Nov 8, 12:21PM EST0

What is the battery life?

Nov 7, 3:17PM EST0

12 hours, more info on www.travistranslator.com/launch

Nov 8, 12:22PM EST0

What Are Your 3 Biggest Accomplishments?

Nov 7, 3:02PM EST0

1. Crowdfunded our product by 10k people, total value $1.4m, shipped to 4k people to date

2. Successfully included www.OLE.org, an NGO into our campaign, and raised 200 units for them

3. 10k units sold to distributors alreadyAll in 2017

Nov 8, 12:16PM EST0

What is one characteristic that you believe Travis Translator has that other translator don't??

Nov 7, 2:55PM EST0

Human centered design. Focus on two-way conversation. Not the focus on 'I' but on 'we'. And our social projects of course

Nov 8, 12:12PM EST0

Are we changing as fast as the world around us?

Nov 7, 11:32AM EST0

I can only speak about myself and I think you don't have to change as fast as the world around you, but just faster than the competitors. 'You don't have to be faster than the lion, but faster than the other guy :)'

Nov 8, 12:11PM EST0

How much will Travis be?

Nov 7, 9:13AM EST0

Hey Melodyama! It’s available for a presale price of $149 and when it’s released for retail end of this year, it will be $199. If you’d like to take advantage of this price, our campaign is here: www.indiegogo.com/projects/travis-i-speak-80-languages-so-can-you-travel/x/16219525

Nov 8, 11:51AM EST0

How long did it take to create your translator?

Nov 7, 8:40AM EST0

From sketches till production it took us 7 months, but we actually started with production after our Indiegogo project, so it's more like 4 months

Nov 8, 12:10PM EST0

How can you Travis become the translator that everyone would love to have?

Nov 7, 8:31AM EST0

Hey! We will find solutions (hardware-software combinations) per industry and per user group. There is no one-product-fits all.  It's our goal and mission to bridge language barriers, and if you don't encounter them you don't need our products. An answer to your question?

Nov 8, 12:09PM EST0

How do you see the project changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

Nov 7, 8:24AM EST0

Hi Shilpa,

In two years we have + hundred thousands of users and + hundred million USD in revenue. We have created a wide range of industry-specific translating devices and through our Travis Foundation we added several non-commercial smaller languages to the worldwide translation software. I will be spearheading the new business/partnerships/foundation part. Anwers your question?

Nov 8, 12:06PM EST0

Is it hungarian language available?

Nov 7, 8:22AM EST0

Hey Adrian! 

Yes Hungarian is available! The full list of languages is on our Indiegogo page here: indiegogo.com/projects/travis-i-speak-80-languages-so-can-you-travel/x/16219525

Nov 8, 11:52AM EST0

What question do you think we need to be asking that we haven't asked already?

Nov 7, 7:20AM EST0

How can you help me to become a start-up entrepreneur, assuming that you want that, or not already are one

Nov 8, 12:03PM EST0

Is it already available?

Nov 7, 5:46AM EST0

Hey Hanahb! 

Travis is currently available through our Indiegogo page for pre-order. Next year it will be available for retail so if you’d like our introductory price head to our campaign at indiegogo.com/projects/travis-i-speak-80-languages-so-can-you-travel/x/16219525

Nov 8, 11:53AM EST0

Can you give me one word that describes you the best?

Nov 7, 5:24AM EST0

Hey John,

'Intense' haha

And for you?

Nov 8, 12:02PM EST0

What organisation are you partnered with for aid working?

Nov 7, 4:17AM EST0

Hey Hello.Tech! 

In our Indiegogo campaign we partnered with OLE (Open Learning Exchange) and the Travis device will be used at 5 of their grassroots locations. In our local Dutch campaign we’ve partnered with Movement on the Ground and devices will be used to aid communication between refugees and volunteers in Lesbos, Greece. We’re always looking for new opportunities to enhance our social impact too, if you have any ideas let us know.

Nov 8, 11:54AM EST0

How many languages does it work with?

Nov 7, 1:05AM EST0

Hey Maureen!

At the moment there are 48 languages with voice support and over 100 available with speech-text output. We are working on improving this further and also starting a project to digitalise languages that are not available. We’re starting with Tigrinya, the language in Eritrea and will go from there!

Nov 8, 11:54AM EST0

How and why did you come up with this project?

Nov 7, 1:01AM EST0

Hey Marsha!

Me and my 2 co-founders always struggled with language barriers and we wanted to build a company with social impact. End of 2016 we decided to start crowdfunding a hardware-software combination (device) and started marketing & press outreach. After a successful Indiegogo in March/April we started manufacturing and in August we started shipping the first units.

Nov 8, 12:01PM EST0

In the past few months, what is the smallest change you have made that has had the biggest positive result?

Nov 7, 12:35AM EST0

Hey Brittany!

That was understanding better where my strengths are and focus on them. And it's about giving a lot of your attention and focus to the most important partner organizations. Define what are must-haves and what are nice-to-have, then eliminate the latter and go all-out on the must-haves. Of any help?

Nov 8, 11:59AM EST0

How many people do you have on your team?

Nov 6, 9:28PM EST0

Hey Joseph! In our Rotterdam office, there are about 10 of us. We also have a small delivery&production team in China so are about 15 people all in all.

Nov 8, 11:55AM EST0

What does success look like for you?

Nov 6, 8:39PM EST0

Hey Rebekah!

Success for me is reaching the yearly goals I set for myself. These goals are professional, relation-wise, physical&mental health related and about my personal development. And what does it look for you?

Nov 8, 11:57AM EST0

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