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War correspondent who turned tech entrepreneur

6th Nov 17 12:51 pm

One to watch!

Emmy award winner, and former war correspondent, Jeff Kofman contributed reports and analysis to, BBC World Service, BBC News, BBC World, BBC Persian Service, NPR, CBC Radio, Monocle Radio and The Toronto Star.

Kofman turned entrepreneur and is the Co-founder and CEO of Trint, a London based tech company, here’s is his story.

What problem are you trying to solve?

We offer pain relief. We cure a huge headache for journalists and others who have traditionally had to spend hours and hours transcribing the content of interviews, speeches, news conferences etc. Trint’s software does the heavy lifting for them using A.I. to do the first draft of transcription. Automated speech to text is getting smarter and smarter, but it still makes mistakes. We found a way to get you transcripts you can trust  – quickly and at very low cost.

How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?

How big is the world? Almost everyone records people talking. More than 80 per cent of the traffic on the Internet is in the form of audio and video. The problem is that none of that content is easily searchable. We have found a way to make recordings easy to search and share. When we began building Trint we saw journalists as the first of many markets. We are now being heavily used in education, research, marketing and corporate communication. Now we have law and justice and healthcare knocking on our door. And we are available in 13 languages so far, so we’re not just talking the English-speaking world.

How do you make money?

We sell magic. Really. People hate transcribing. And so much recorded content gets lost because it’s so hard to search for it. We save our users time and money and making it easier to get at the content of their recordings.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?

Everyone. Really. Building a talented and passionate team is everything. I was a TV news reporter – a foreign correspondent and war correspondent – before I started Trint. I’d never built a team or managed people before. One of the many rewarding lessons has been the importance of building a positive culture. I tell anyone thinking of coming to work with us “if you’re not going to be excited on Sunday to be coming into the office Monday then you shouldn’t come work with us.” Our team members have different skills but we all share a passion and excitement for what we are doing.

Who’s bankrolling you?

I’ve learned the difference between investors and smart investors. You need money, but if you can find smart money you have a real advantage. We have some incredibly smart tech veterans and business people on our cap table. They have helped me avoid a lot of mistakes. Our biggest investor is Horizons Lab, the Hong Kong-based Seed Fund run by the managers of Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures. We also got early investment from the US-based Knight Foundation, one of the most respected names in media innovation.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?

Make sure you understand how your business is going to make money. I meet so many people who think they’ve got a great idea or great technology, but they haven’t focused on how they’d actually make it a viable business.

What do you believe the key to growing this business is?

A brilliant product that keeps evolving and innovating while constantly listening to users; customer service that genuinely cares about users; marketing and sales teams that make sure people know who we are and what we can do for them.

What metrics do you look at every day?

Of course I look at revenue, but I also look at new website visitors, particularly organic ones (who aren’t brought in by those incredibly expensive GoogleAds) and I am really focused on engagement with our product. How much of the product’s potential are people using?

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?

My own optimism and passion sets the tone for the team. I knew from day one that if we could make Trint do what I hoped it would do, then we could solve a huge workflow problem for a lot of people. Getting other people to share that vision has been critical for building a really solid team, raising investment and getting early customers.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far?  

How much time do you have? I have made so many mistakes. But I don’t dwell on them. I am fine admitting when I have messed up and I encourage team members to do the same. The focus is on fixing the mistake and learning from it. We can make different mistakes tomorrow.

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?

Fasten your seat belt. People describe our product as “jaw-dropping”. You ain’t seen nothing yet. The innovations that are on our roadmap will knock your socks off. (See, I wasn’t kidding about my optimism and passion!)

Which London start-ups are you watching, and why?

I love what the team at seenit.io have done with crowd-sourced videos. They have found a way to make a really complex group experience incredibly easy and fun and useful. We both started in the innovation lab at IDEALondon, they began a little ahead of us. It’s been inspiring to watch them grow and grow.

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