The world as we know it is more connected than it has ever been, yet the language barrier is still as strong as ever. If you want to create a relationship with someone who doesn’t speak your native tongue you are most likely out of luck. Thankfully, Mundo Chat is breaking down this barrier fueled with technology. The global messaging app includes 50 of the most spoken languages in the world and allows you to chat, audio message, and upload images – just like any other messaging app and provides translation.
LA TechWatch spoke with founder and CEO Usman Shakeel about the startup and what drove the synthesis of its launch.
Tell us about the product or service.
Mundo Chat was founded in Los Angeles, California with the aspiration of bringing together diverse people, cultures and ideas across the globe by breaking down the biggest obstacle in this pursuit; the language barrier.
Mundo Chat is the first truly global messaging app with integrated translations. It enables its users to select from any of 50+ top world languages to send and receive messages in their native language. The whole user experience is built from the ground up with the integrated translation capability at its core, which allows for a seamless and delightful messaging experience. Mundo Chat’s innovative Back-Translation & Reconciliation feature uniquely allows both the message sender and receiver to proactively and collaboratively identify any mistranslations to ensure translation accuracy.
How is it different?
Mundo Chat’s messaging experience is built around the integrated translation capability with a major focus on ease of use and translation integrity. Once the user selects his or her native language, the platform does the rest, which allows for a seamless chatting experience. We are also excited to share the innovative Back-Translation & Reconciliation feature. A user who sends a message can tap the message bubble to see it back translated from receiver’s native language back to that of the sender. A user who receives a message can tap the message bubble to see the original text as written by the sender. This proactive and collaborative approach significantly improves the conversation flow and helps resolve any potential translation integrity issues.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Mundo Chat is contributing to the highly fragmented global mobile messaging app market. According to GIA, this market is expected to reach 2.1 billion users by 2020, driven by the growing penetration of smartphones and tablets, increase in social connectedness among the young and old population and availability of cheap mobile internet services.
What is the business model?
Mundo Chat is FREE to download in the Apple App Store. We are currently working to highlight the unique features of Mundo Chat to a diverse set of users globally and demonstrate how it can help them nurture deeper, long-lasting relationships with family and relatives, friends and acquaintances, business partners and other intriguing minds spread across the world.
What has it been like founding this company with family?
The most important aspect of any successful business venture, or team project, is open and active communication. In this regard, founding Mundo Chat with my brother, Hassaan Shakeel, has been a great experience. While we have shared a lot of experiences growing up together, we both bring different professional experiences to Mundo Chat. I come from the world of business and investments while he has an engineering and computer science background. The combination of these similarities and differences led to robust discussions, and ultimately, to a better more innovative final product.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?
I have a business and finance background having worked in both the investment banking at Morgan Stanley and in the private equity world. The idea for Mundo Chat came as a result of both my brother and I studying abroad. I spent 5 months in Milan, Italy and Hassaan spent 5 months in Lund, Sweden.
During our time abroad, we both made lots of new friends from all over the world who spoke a variety of languages. It was easier to overcome the language barrier in-person as we participated in different activities and communicated with a combination of spoken words, body language and gestures. But after returning to the U.S, we felt that it was very difficult to maintain those relationships as the language barrier became a major obstacle and using Google Translate was not practical.
We had a similar experience while visiting family in Denmark as some, who only spoke Danish, could not effectively communicate with us. These experiences combined with secular trends of increasing globalization, cross-border commerce, immigration and multi-cultural families inspired us to create Mundo Chat.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
Los Angeles has a unique culture and sensibility to it that is very different from other tech hotspots like San Francisco and New York. There is a tremendous amount of creativity and passion in this city and its people that is a constant source of inspiration to us.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Over the next six months we will be implementing a variety of initiatives geared towards enhancing brand awareness and driving user growth.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
While there are a variety of interesting local investors that would be valuable partners for Mundo Chat, we believe that a partnership with CAA Ventures will be a very natural symbiotic fit. The Mundo Chat platform and its accessible global user base combined with the vast and diverse CAA ecosystem can create a uniquely dominant force in the social media and marketing space.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
To us, Los Angeles embodies the ideals of diversity, creativity and fun. We have fashioned the culture at Mundo Chat to be consistent with these tenets and the “Made in LA” signature helps communicate these values to our users across the world.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
While there is no shortage of creative ideas or aspiring individuals in Los Angeles, it is so synonymous with Hollywood and the entertainment industry that it often gets overlooked as a great place for entrepreneurs to start a business. The national news coverage, often rightly so, is focused on Silicon Valley and New York Startups that a place like Los Angeles, with all of its unique qualities, gets neglected. I think Los Angeles media outlets and entrepreneurs need to continue to highlight and promote the fast developing start-up culture here and build on the attention brought to the city by the Snap IPO.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity in LA?
Hiking the scenic trails with views of the Pacific Ocean.