MyLingo, a startup developing an app that plays back dubbed tracks for non-English-speaking moviegoers, has landed $750,000 in seed funding and signed United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer to its advisory board.
The company said the funding is from “undisclosed angel investors.” Barclay Knapp, former CEO of U.K. cable operator NTL, has joined MyLingo as chairman of the board. Joining as advisers are UTA’s Zimmer and Dennis Miller, president of operations for TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) and a former general partner with Spark Capital.
MyLingo was founded by Olenka Polak, a 19-year-old Harvard University student, and her brother Adam. The duo are first-generation Americans with Polish-speaking parents — and their frustration with going to see movies in English led to the idea behind the company. “My brother and I never went to the movies with our parents because they had difficulty following the dialogue on screen,” Olenka Polak said. “We want to make it possible for anyone to watch a film or TV show in the language that they are most comfortable using.”
The concept won the Harvard College Innovation Challenge in April 2013. MyLingo uses audio-recognition technology to determine which movie someone is watching, then plays dubbed-language audio tracks synchronized with the pic through headphones connected to their smartphone.
The MyLingo app will sell access to studios’ already-produced and sanctioned dubbed movie tracks. Startup said it’s in talks with major studios and theater chains and hopes to launch market trials in the next few months. The app can support any language but the initial target market will be the Spanish-speaking Hispanic population in the U.S.
The company was formed as Oladas Inc. in Riverside, Conn., but is moving to Los Angeles in January 2014. (Olenka Polak plans to drop out of Harvard to bootstrap the company.) The seed funding will be used for technical development and to hire additional staff, according to a rep.
Among the siblings’ other advisers is Dan Ellis, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University who is a specialist in digital signal processing.