Background - 25.03.2022 - 00:00 

Breaking down language barriers and confidently changing the world: The DeepL Story

Digital translation service DeepL is based in Europe, but used worldwide. Florian Schweitzer, Co-Founder and Partner of btov Partners, interviewed Jaroslaw Kutylowski, Founder and CEO of DeepL, on the first morning of START Summit 2022.
Source: HSG Newsroom

25 March 2022. When DeepL launched in 2017, the platform had "zero users" – last December, it had 240 million website visits. DeepL has grown organically and now counts satisfied users from all over the world, stated Florian Schweitzer, as he introduced the neural machine translation service in a panel discussion at the START Summit. When asked how much bigger DeepL should get, CEO Jaroslaw Kutylowski replied, "Numbers are great and important for an organization," but what motivates him personally and makes him happy is the fact that so many people know DeepL. Even though DeepL has already gone viral globally, there are still billions of people worldwide to reach, he said.

Not afraid of the big guys

Kutylowski sees DeepL as a free service provider and a tool that facilitates interpersonal communication. As the "world's best translation engine," however, DeepL has also shown its competitive strength. The fact that the translator has been able to hold its own in the AI sector with competitors such as Google Translate, Microsoft and Facebook was certainly one of the reasons for the rise in quality, said Florian Schweitzer. Competition can certainly help, Kutylowski affirmed. Still, he doesn't think a translation service will ever be perfect. Translators in the real world also interpret words and sentences differently. One hundred percent quality is therefore not the goal, but constant improvement is guaranteed thanks to increasing user numbers and the data generated in this way. The language portfolio is constantly being expanded – Japanese has recently been added to the list. Whether the Swiss national language "Rumantsch" will soon be available on DeepL, the CEO answered with a laugh, "a bit tricky. At the moment, the focus is more on Asia.

Let language barriers disappear

Kutylowski recommends that young entrepreneurs go their own way with self-confidence and take a long-term view of their company. On the road to success, a company needs team members who develop solutions to problems of the future. Especially in tech companies, a balance between business and research and development is important – DeepL therefore divides its corporate goals into short-, medium- and long-term projects. In the future, communication and language understanding will continue to be complex due to cultural and emotional differences, said Kutylowski. DeepL's central contribution, however, is to make more and more language barriers disappear and thus simplify global understanding. Because: "Each and every war ends at the table people talking to each other," Florian Schweitzer concluded with a timeless bon mot from his grandmother.