Jumping into the Shark Tank: How VerbalizeIt Swam With the Sharks and Prepped Their App With Twilio

Kunal SardaVerbalizeIt co-founder Kunal Sarda (pictured right) shares four keys to preparing your communications app, which he and co-founder Ryan Frankel learned from appearing on the ABC Television series “Shark Tank.”

After a harrowing experience being unable to communicate in a foreign country, I wanted to help eliminate language barriers by offering instant real-time access to human translators using the power of technology. My co-founder Ryan, had a similar experience in China and we soon began designing our first human-powered translation app. Some months later, we were ready to raise capital and applied for a spot on Shark Tank, the popular ABC show which gives entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas to veteran investors.

In order to prepare for the spike in VerbalizeIt app downloads from appearing national TV, we took several important steps, which will help us generate the most productive outcome:

Do Your Homework
Before we stepped in front the sharks, we conducted extensive background research to better understand how the show would impact the number of downloads of our app. This meant researching how much traffic was generated from the show to previous companies, websites, social media pages, and app stores. Understanding precisely how much pick-up we expected to receive was crucial when preparing our servers. We now do this before every marketing campaign.

Test, Test, Test and Test Some More
Though VerbalizeIt is still young, we’ve found it effective to identify the successes we’ve already had. In our company’s young history we’ve had several spikes in downloads from press, events, and marketing campaigns. All of these spikes have informed the improvements to our new app and our deeper integration with Twilio. We filmed Shark Tank only months after incorporating and before we had a working iPhone app. With the showing airing shortly, we’re confident that our tests have put us in the best possible position to succeed.

Cherish Your Time
As a software as a service company, Twilio saves us precious development time. Because Twilio offers an easy-to-use API, clear documentation, and an out of the box learning experience, getting our developers up to speed was painless and easy and allowed us to continue to press forward on the other aspects of our SaaS platform.

Keep It Real
Through Twilio’s platform we now have a dynamic environment where customers can call via a typical phone line or our mobile app wherever they are in the world. This allows us to seamlessly route calls to our translators all over the world from any device to any device. We also have an “on-off” switch for our translators to alert the Twilio platform when they’re available to take live translation calls. This functionality when coupled with clear-call quality, have put us in the best position to connect real people across language barriers all over the world.

To watch Kunal and Ryan pitch to “the sharks” on the season finale of Shark Tank, tune in to ABC on Friday, May 17 at 9 p.m. EST or sign up for VerbalizeIt updates where remind you about the show’s airing. You can also learn more about their developer offering and how to embed a live-translator into your application at www.verbalizeit.com.