Meet Lesan, a machine translation company for Ethiopian languages that builds technology to open up the web to more communities.
Founded by Asmelash Teka Hadgu and Adam Beaudoin, Lesan offers APIs that allow companies to instantly and accurately translate content to and from Ethiopian languages.
Around the world, there are millions of people that cannot consume the content on the web because it is not in their native language. This not only presents a huge hurdle for many communities to actively participate in online life but also holds back economic opportunities for companies across the world.
Currently, the API for the Amharic language is launched for public use while the Tigrinya language is on the beta stage. They believe their machine translation technology allows communities to access more information online that is relevant to them.
” We imagine a world where everyone can consume the content on the web, regardless of the language they speak”, Says Adam Beaudoin, Co-founder, and CEO of Lesan.
In order for machine translation technology to work it needs datasets with millions of translations. In the past, Google Translate and other Machine Translation providers have found this really challenging to build for certain languages in Ethiopia.
It is not uncommon to see Google Translator making frequent mistakes if you try to translate English to one of the Ethiopian languages.
” We have found a new way to build these datasets and apply the latest research in the field to create accurate translation systems “
Lesan’s CTO and co-founder, Asmelash, built the machine learning models to be as accurate as possible to produce translation outputs.
Asmelash who grew up in Ethiopia and knew how many languages are not currently served well by Google Translate or other providers. He later went on to study his PhD in Germany in this field and had ideas on how to create a great solution.
Adam Beaudoin CEO of Lesan shared with Shega, ” Asme and I met in Berlin, Germany as part of Entrepreneur First, a program that helps individuals form companies. The more we learned about the challenges with machine translation for certain languages, and the potential impact a solution could have, the more we wanted to create this product“
Lesan which has teams that sit both in Germany and Ethiopia have already started onboarding various companies that are looking to integrate with Lesan’s API. They also run a document translation service for companies that require perfect translations.
Lesan has gone through Facebook’s connectivity accelerator in London, as well as the High-Tech Seed Lab in Berlin. Lesan has also raised a pre-seed investment.
In the next few months, Lesan will be launching Tigrinya, Afaan Oromoo, and other languages across the continent while it plans to raise a seed round in the first quarter of 2021.