Unbabel

AI translation for customer support
Based in San Francisco, CA
Founded 2013
Specializing in Business applications
Status Active

Landing Microsoft Customer Service & Support as a customer

What does Unbabel do?

In a world of nearly limitless consumer choice, customer experience has become just as crucial to successful products as more traditional factors such as product functionality or price point. Getting the customer experience right requires focus, nuance, and domain-specific intelligence. And today, it also requires you to talk to any customer, anywhere in the world—in their native language.

Unbabel saw this universal challenge as an opportunity. By combining human expertise and AI, the startup set out to fill a gap in the market and transform service interactions with an intelligent human translation platform. “From machine translation vendors to traditional translation agencies, no one was providing the right balance of cost, speed, and quality,” says Edmund Ovington, Vice President of Global Alliances at Unbabel. “So that’s what we started to do.”

Unbabel initially sold its solution into fast-growing companies and saw how its service helped them expand even faster by removing language barriers, which previously would have obstructed entry to new markets. More established enterprise companies had many of the same problems at a much larger scale and could potentially benefit from the same set of tools. But how could a small startup move into the global enterprise market?

What support does M12 provide?

In 2018, Unbabel received investment from M12, and began working with M12’s portfolio development team. Unbabel was immediately impressed by the level of support it received. “M12 took a dedicated business development approach in working with us,” says Ovington. “M12 essentially became an extension of our team. With the capital it provided, we were able to grow, but most importantly, it opened a lot of doors for us.”

M12 essentially became an extension of our team. With the capital it provided, we were able to grow, but most importantly, it opened a lot of doors for us."

Edmund Ovington, Vice President of Global Alliances, Unbabel

One of those doors led straight to a Microsoft meeting room and a deal with the company’s own Customer Service and Support (CSS) team. “Many startups will wait five years, trying to get that one big meeting with their dream customer,” says Ovington. “With M12 as an investor, we got it in two weeks.”

Unbabel had to win the Microsoft work itself, but it was able to rely on support and guidance from M12 during every step of the eight-month process—to expedite meetings, field feedback between parties, and ultimately help ensure the deal was a success for everyone.

Unbabel team members at work in their office Unbabel team members at work in their office
What was the outcome?

Unbabel initially helped Microsoft’s Customer Service and Support team deliver support for Office 365 to Chinese speakers via email and chat, and a few months later, it was translating seven different languages across four lines of business for Microsoft.

Edmund Ovington, Vice President of Global Alliances at Unbabel

M12 did way more than they promised. That’s rare in this world, and we’re now in a position where I can’t wait to see what’s next for us."

Edmund Ovington, Vice President of Global Alliances, Unbabel

For Unbabel, the relationship with M12 has helped support the growth of the organization and further refinement of its product. Going forward, Unbabel intends to incorporate its translation service into bots so that customers can interact in any language, on any service channel. With support from M12, the company has created a blueprint for growth, innovation, and access to new markets and customers.

“Working with M12, we’ve gone from being a 50-person company to a 240-person company,” says Ovington. “M12 did way more than they promised. That’s rare in this world, and we’re now in a position where I can’t wait to see what’s next for us.”