Taiwanese startups shine at Echelon competition, with Waygo winning most promising startup award

Taiwanese startups shine at Echelon competition, with Waygo winning most promising startup award

Taiwanese startups had a strong showing at a competition held at tech conference Echelon 2013 in Singapore today, with an innovative Chinese-English translation app Waygo winning the “Most Promising Startup” award.

Out of the 10 startups that presented, three originated from Taiwan — Waygo is one of them.

Waygo allows users to simply hover their smartphone cameras over typed Chinese characters (it doesn’t currently work for those that are handwritten), instantly translating them into English without connecting to the Internet. Its easy access appeals to travelers and expats alike who have difficulty figuring their directions in a foreign land or ordering food. The company is also part of the 500 Startups accelerator batch that graduated in February this year.

The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store, wherein a user gets 100 translations up front and 10 per day afterwards. There is also an option to upgrade to unlimited translations for $4.99.

Waygo has attracted investments including an undisclosed amount from venture capitalist Golden Gate Ventures, with founding partner Vincent Lauria saying: “We’re really impressed with the app.”

GGV has also pumped money into another Taiwanese app that has been making waves in the tech scene, POP. Despite their lackluster presentation at Echelon, the startup features an attractive concept of helping designers prototype on paper by converting sketches into workable mockups. The company has the 500 Startups’ stamp on it too, as it is part of the latest intake.

“I think [Taiwan has] very very good engineering talent,” and startups originating from the island are also thinking of how to cater for the international market, Lauria says.

Judges on the Echelon panel consisted of well-known investors including Dave McClure from 500 Startups and the CEO of Singtel Innov8, Edgar Hardless.

➤ Waygo | iOS

➤ POP | iOS

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