If you’ve read my “Apps I Couldn’t Live Without” article you will know that Ginger is one of my favourite applications. Ginger is a free application which quickly grammar checks writing and picks up on any typos or mistakes you may have made.
If you would like to read my full review of Ginger click here: Ginger: An Invaluable Tool For Writers.
Recently I came in contact with one of main members of the Ginger team, Dudu Noy. He was kind enough to speak to me about everything from the beginning of Ginger, all the way to what the future holds. Read on to find out more!
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. First of all could you introduce yourself and your role in Ginger?
Hi! Thanks for inviting me. My name is Dudu Noy, and I’m the VP of Product and Marketing at Ginger Software where I lead the Marketing, Product and Creative teams. I’m in charge of taking Ginger’s innovative Natural Language Understanding (NLU) algorithmic capabilities and leveraging them into successful mass consumer products. Ginger’s mission is to break down language barriers by enabling English as Second Language (ESL) users to express themselves as native English speakers. Prior to joining the team at Ginger, I held various product and marketing positions at consumer product companies such as Taboola and Metacafe.
Who makes up the team of Ginger and where are you based?
Ginger is led by CEO & Founder Yael Karov and is comprised of about 50 employees from various disciplines. Yael is one of the only female CEOs in the Israeli startup scene. She brings to Ginger a vast knowledge of natural language processing and machine learning, and has assembled a talented team of NLU experts that keep generating innovative patent pending capabilities. In addition, Ginger is comprised of a diverse group of marketing, product, and development professionals. Our offices are located in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel, and overlook the Mediterranean. We’re proud to be part of “Startup nation.”
Where did the original idea for Ginger come from? Did you see a gap in the market?
There is something ironic about Israelis providing a tool for perfecting English, as we are ESL users ourselves. However, this is the primary reason why such a startup came out of Israel. Israelis work in a global market and are strongly aware of the necessity of communicating effectively in English. Yael, who is not a native English speaker, used to search Google for common phrasings in English. She would then analyze the results herself to determine the best way of writing for her context. Thus, the idea of Ginger was born.
While an over-simplification, this idea is how Ginger works for users. It crawls over a vast corpus of written texts in English and calculates the probability and likelihood of English text occurrences. This statistical knowledge, combined with semantic and syntactic models, enables Ginger to provide English corrections that are unmatched by any other software. The corrections include spelling, grammar, and misused words, and are integrated seamlessly into the user’s natural writing environments (Word, Outlook, browsers, mobile platforms, etc.).
From original idea to finished product, how long did that process take? Were there any major problems along the way?
Ginger was founded in 2008. The early years were spent establishing the core Natural Language Understanding platform, which in and of itself included a few challenges. For example, a main challenge consisted of developing an algorithm that could crawl the web and analyze a vast corpus of words while not compromising on result response time. Ginger’s latest free product was launched in early 2012 and we constantly strive to improve the user experience and product functionality on a daily basis. One challenge we faced was how to bring Ginger’s value directly to the user’s natural writing environment, which prompted us to develop interfaces for all the major writing platforms (MS Office, Chrome, Safari, etc.).
Another challenge Ginger tackled was how to help the user not only fix his writing, but also to improve his English by learning from his mistakes. Therefore, we developed a personal tutor, which offers Ginger’s users the opportunity to practice on their own mistakes. An ongoing challenge we face in the marketing arena is to let users know about and experience Ginger’s unique value proposition. Once users are familiar with Ginger, they are converted to loyal users. I’m proud to say that since launching our free product in early 2012, Ginger has been installed by over 2 million users.
Were there any important decisions which were made during the development of this app?
On the business side of things, Ginger made the important decision in early 2012 of being a freemium product. This means that we provide our proofreading capabilities for free while offering our personal tutor as a premium. I am delighted by this decision, which enables us to fulfill our vision by providing free distribution to millions of users around the globe. Another important decision was to develop Ginger for all major browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) in addition to our Microsoft Office offerings. This enables our users to correct their English anywhere within their browser (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and more importantly allows us to support Mac users.
Ginger is fantastic for people like me who write a lot because of its absolute simplicity. Was it the aim from the start to create a simple yet effective app?
Yes, the overall goal of Ginger’s products is to provide a one-click user experience despite the complicated computations running in the background. This required coordinated efforts by the teams working on both the UX and the algorithm.
Are there any applications you use on a daily basis to make your workflow easier?
Since data is very important to us and in order to keep improving our products, we use Google Analytics and BI systems to learn about the needs of our users. In addition, we use social media websites, such as our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to connect with our users. In the office, we use Kanban to organize our office workflow and make communication between departments easier.
What does the future hold for Ginger?
As more and more people write on their mobile devices, Ginger is focusing special attention to the mobile world. We have recently launched a superior Android application that integrates everywhere a user types on their device. We are also working on a new and exciting capability that will offer users the ability to enrich their writing. Stay tuned for its launch in the coming month!
Here at Windows.Appstorm we extend a great deal of thanks to Dudu Noy and the team working on Ginger. This app is superior at its concept and helps people all over the world. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Ginger!
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