Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Olivier Debeugny, Lingua Custodia

Lingua Custodia is among the first set of startups selected to present to leading investors like SeedX Lichtenstein, Capnamic Ventures and Giesecke+Devrient Ventures at the 11th FinTech Forum, 21st Nov. 2019 in Frankfurt: https://ftf11.eventbrite.com

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.

Hello! My name is Olivier and I am the founding CEO of Lingua Custodia, a French Fintech which applies Machine Learning to Financial Translations. I was raised in the North of France and I have been studying business in Lorraine. I have been working in Germany (where I met my British wife), in London and in Paris where we settled down 15 years ago with our 3 kids. The very small leisure part of my life is dedicated to my family and friends. If and when I do have more time one day, I would love to spend it on my passion for History. Until then, my biggest dream would be that my office has a direct see view.
I do not have any scientist background – unlike most of the founders of A.I. companies! – I came to Tech to tackle the translation issues I have been facing during my 18 years in the Financial industry.


2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?

Our ambition is to make financial translations faster, cheaper and better through Machine Learning.
We build up and train machine translation engines 100% specialised in the financial domain. Thanks to our expertise in machine learning, our engines learn and continuously improve though usage.


We propose 3 services that are very distinctive:
1. an access to specialised machine translation engines by document type (fund prospectus/fund factsheet/ macro research/IFRS annual reports…) for immediate translation of full documents with a preserved format
2. the setup of fully customised machine translation engine for our clients with specific in-house terminology
3. The review by post editors of the machine output to provide a finalised high-quality financial translation at half the market price.


Our service is fast and cost-efficient: Upload the document to be translated, select the document type, source and target languages and click translate. A few seconds later your document is translated and can be downloaded in the same format. The benefits of machine translation are reflected in the price.
And Plug & Play: Lingua Custodia solutions can be accessed in a secured manner through several web-based interfaces or directly through an API. Our service is available wherever our clients are 7/7 24/24.

We are the only Machine Translation company founded by finance professionals to solve the pain points that they experienced themselves. And thus we have a detailed understanding of technology, language and client needs: both our financial language database, established and enriched over the past 8 years, and our AI expertise, embedding the latest developments in Deep Learning, enable us to offer an innovative approach through automation and optimisation of translation processes.

Lingua Custodia is also the only Machine translation company specialised in the set up of machine translation engines exclusively for the financial domain. Our competitors are indeed focusing their efforts on the retail market with generic translation engines very adapted for day to day life but less suitable for highly specialised technical domain.


3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you go about launching it?

At the time of the financial crisis 2007/2008, I was in charge of the global client service team of an international asset management company. My team had to switch into a crisis communication mode and the transmission of information had to be faster and available in the native language of our clients. Many financial professionals, who speak English in addition to their native language, are often forced to translate very urgent and technical texts that cannot be outsourced to translation agencies either because there is no time or because of the shortage in specialised financial translator.
Lingua Custodia was created to solve this conundrum faced by the entire financial industry.


4. How did you finance your startup, and what learnings would you like to share from the fund-raising journey?

I must say that I would qualify fund raising as a sport rather than a journey! You have to be fully prepared (for months) before entering into the competition, 100 % performant at all pitching opportunities, and better than others to win the race (and the price coming with it: the funds). And let’s be honest, I like it!! It obliges you to deeply re-assess the risk/opportunity ratios of your business model and your environment. And this prevents you from being caught by something you may not have seen coming, whether from competition or from your own business organisation/process. That being said, you cannot raise funds too often as it is extremely time-consuming and a major distraction for the executive team. It’s all about financing and investment balance – we are just closing a fund raising round and it’s getting easier each time.


5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?

I am fascinated by all Natural Languages Processes (NLP) technologies that can be applied to the financial industry. There are so many use cases, KYC and regulatory processes, Credit analysis and investment processes, Client communication and relationship management. This is a strategic area for financial institutions to help them getting closer to their client while keeping under control the increasing regulatory costs.


6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in Europe, and how can we help?

Keep going! Fintech need to be seen, recognised and more importantly they need to grow. And this is the tricky part. We do have wonderful ideas, accurate problem-solving solutions, talented teams and excellent positioning. And yet most of the Fintech do have hard time to significantly grow. Our shared financial clients are usually seeking for seamless solutions.
My view is that the next step for Fintech companies is to cooperate and partner wherever and as much as it makes business sense.


7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?

For all B2B fintech entrepreneurs, it is very important to join a local Fintech network to share experiences because we have the same clients to whom we propose different types of services. There is room for cooperation, and we are actively working at connecting our specialised machine translation solution with other Fintech platform through win-win agreements.