NO, I would not invest in this venture – even though it does have the potential to make money – because I see this as an anti-learning app, something that would perpetuate the rude, self-serving, American tourist. Ryan Rogowski, co-founder and CEO, gives me nothing to dispel this image by yelling almost every word of his pitch. I prefer curious, conscientious tourists, American or otherwise, who engage with people and things they see when traveling, rather than effortlessly Americanizing or making something convenable to themselves by stripping away its real culture.
“By providing the pronunciation as well, Waygo is a helpful tool for travellers and learners mastering a new language” (Rogowski, 2014). I know, as a second language teacher, that instant translation is not good pedagogy. Especially when he talks about expanding his app to French and Spanish (languages with the same script as English), this app really just encourages laziness and avoidance of any real learning.
Rogowski also mentions that the patent is pending. While the “Instant” and wireless capabilities of this app do provide a solution to a pain point for a large number of travellers and expats, it would seem that if they don’t get their patent, this differentiation from other apps will disappear.
Rogowski, R. (2014). Featured Startup Pitch: Waygo’s translation app translates Chinese and Japanese to English via smartphone camera. Retrieved from: http://startupbeat.com/2014/07/08/featured-startup-pitch-waygo-id3882/