Success Stories

The Potential Flitto Japan Discovered in the Japanese Market

Flitto is drawing attention as one of Asia's largest language data platforms offering a range of translation services. With localization and data solutions as its core businesses, Flitto customizes and sells diverse language data, including text, audio and images, to domestic and international clients, including top global companies such as Microsoft, Baidu and Tencent.

More than 10 million users and four million translators in 173 countries utilize Flitto's translation platform, and more than 2,500 global companies operating in the BtoB area use the platform. In 2023, Flitto released Korea's first real-time conversation translation solution, the "Chat Translation" service. We spoke with Ryota Tomiyama, President of Flitto Japan, about how the company has been able to achieve continued rapid growth.

Establishment
2018/07
Destination
Tokyo・Kanto

  • ICT
  • Service
  • Korea

Update : 2024/04

Language Data Demand in Countries Where English is Not the First Language

Founded in South Korea in 2012, Flitto has grown exponentially to become one of the world's largest language services companies, and was listed on the KOSDAQ stock exchange in 2019. The company has been expanding into many arenas within language data services, from crowdsourced translation services to specialized translation and AI translation.

Tomiyama addresses the company's growth: "We utilize the vast language AI data we have amassed through our language translation platform to provide language data to companies in Japan and overseas. Currently, more than 10 million users in 173 countries use Flitto's translation platform.”

Ryota Tomiyama, Country Manager, Flitto Japan

Flitto Japan was established in 2018, and addressing the potential of the Japanese market, Tomiyama says, "Our company provides language services all over the world. We observe the same challenges everywhere, especially in Asian countries where English is not the first language, like Japan, China and South Korea. From the moment we set up our business in Korea, where we have our HQ, we were focused on developing our business in Japan. And let's not forget that Japan is one of the largest economies in the world."

Flitto's Translation Platform

Expansion into Japan was Inevitable for Flitto

Naturally, there were many other reasons why Flitto wanted to operate in Japan. Mr. Tomiyama continues, "Even before we had established a significant presence in Japan, we had built relationships with major Japanese companies. We originally met representatives of NTT DOCOMO at a start-up exhibition in the U.S., and entered into a partnership with the company in 2016. At the time, there were just a few companies developing engines capable of machine translation, and companies needed a partner like us that possessed a wealth of linguistic data on global users to commence joint development.”

The increasing need for linguistic data regarding Japanese digital content was also a major tailwind for the company. "Notably, we are seeing constant, increased demand for translation of linguistic data for entertainment content. For example, lyrics of pop songs and the latest manga and anime. So much content is being produced, but it's not properly localized for global audiences,” Tomiyama details.

Japanese Market Allure for Language Data Companies

The evolution of technology, including generative AI, seems to be driving new innovations in the entertainment industry.

"At the Japan Expo in France, a new technique called 'simulpublishing' was introduced, entailing the simultaneous publication and distribution of printed books and e-books. Unique content, such as manga and anime created in Japan, is localized into the language of other countries and released at the same time as in Japan. There's a wealth of Japanese content that has yet to be experienced by the rest of the world, and we believe in the power of AI and technology to streamline the translation process," says Tomiyama.

Tomiyama notes that the business opportunities in Japan for a company like Flitto, with its global language data, are considerable, and go beyond corporate and consumer use.

"For example, take the great potential of the Business to Government (B2G) space. In the data solutions business, a key area for us, our clients are governments and municipalities. Government agencies are increasingly turning to companies like ours that handle linguistic data, and these services will be in demand for events like the Olympics, the World Expo and international conferences," he says. Mr. Tomiyama continues to detail how in the B2G field, it is important to collaborate with major Japanese companies when proposing projects.

"Government agencies tend to place orders with domestic companies that have a proven track record in information security. For this reason, it's important to collaborate with major Japanese domestic companies when making proposals. Remaining aware of this fact has allowed us to continue working with B2G-related businesses in Japan," he says.

Japan Makes It Easy for Global Start-ups to Get Support

Regarding how the Japanese market offers welcoming environments for start-ups like Flitto to operate, Tomiyama also details the support system for companies looking to do business in Japan.

"From the time we established our Japan office to this very day, we have received outstanding support from JETRO. They introduced us to administrative scriveners and other specialists, and provided us with the information we needed for back-end operations including legal and tax affairs. I was impressed not only by thorough and quality support we received, but also by the fact their support came free of charge," he says.

Regarding the keys to success for foreign start-ups looking to expand into the Japanese market, Tomiyama adds, "Looking at Japan from outside, people tend to think that the country is very different in terms of its culture and business practices. But, my sense is that the government and other public support systems are very comprehensive."

Tomiyama also details how Japanese companies are welcoming new avenues of entrepreneurship. "When you are trying to scale rapidly in a large market like Japan, you'll almost certainly need some help. Luckily enough, there are many Japanese companies that would like to collaborate with start-ups that have technology and ambition like ours,” he says. With the right level of ambition and proper demonstration of strengths, Tomiyama concludes, “I think it's crucial that we work hard to form partnerships with companies willing to support, working with the dedication and rapid pace expected from a start-up, and all the while highlighting the areas in which we excel."

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