Startup Weekend: At Startup Weekend, we always emphasize the importance of the team—above even the importance of the startup idea. Have you found this to be true with TranscribeMe? How do you know when someone is the right fit for your team?
Alexei Dunayev: I absolutely believe that having the right team is the key to success in an early stage startup. There is a lot to be said for having positive energy in a company, and the makeup of the team needs to consider that. We know someone is the right fit for the team when they have a passion for the business, ideas on how to develop it, and believe that it has a great chance to succeed. At Startup Weekend, we were able to attract a top-tier team to gauge the customer demand and at the same time put together a profitable business model of how to solve it.
SW: As a tag-along question: what do you look for when building a team? Clearly, the individuals themselves are extremely important but how do you know when someone is a good cultural fit as well? How were you able to do this given the time and resource constraints of Startup Weekend?
AD: At Startup Weekend we brought together the marketing and operations teams, and after winning the weekend, also expanded the technology side of the business. The structure of Startup Weekend is great, as it lets the people who are most interested in the idea to work on it, and also gives people an opportunity to stay on past the weekend, or not. We agreed amongst ourselves that we are there for 54 hours with a single goal to build a business and win the weekend, and then would decide on how to continue after the weekend was over. I’m glad to say that out of 7 people on our team, 5 decided to stay with the venture and are now integral team members.
SW: You’ve been both an attendee and a mentor at Startup Weekend events, which people often think as sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum. In your experience, how are these roles complimentary?
AD: They are quite different roles. There is a lot less pressure when you are a mentor, and so you are able to step back and think about problems from a different viewpoint with the luxury of time. It’s interesting to be a participant also, mostly because of the energy of the team and the buzz of working something really special. These roles are indeed at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but nevertheless the spectrum itself is really the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city where Startup Weekend is being held, so there is lots of opportunity for collaboration.
SW: As you’ve progressed with TranscribeMe, you’ve found that both the industry and the problem you’re trying to solve are more complex than you’d initially realized. How have you educated yourself (and your team) on the unforeseen challenges/questions you’ve had to deal with?
AD: There is indeed a steep learning curve when stepping into a new industry, particularly one as sophisticated as the $50b/year transcription space. We have been actively seeking out research databases and information on the web to learn about the landscape of the industry, the competitors and partners, and technology at play. By having passionate and dedicated people on the team, we were able to efficiently collaborate in this learning process and share the learnings throughout the team. We also found people with specific domain expertise outside the team to draw in as advisors and supporters.
TranscribeMe converts voice to text. We offer the world’s best platform to connect professional and casual transcribers with customers in the publishing, medical, legal and business markets using a smartphone platform integrated with crowd-sourced human transcribers.
Our customers use the TranscribeMe application on their smartphone to record meetings, interviews and dictation. The app sends the results to our servers, which process the audio files and then forward them to a crowd of transcribers. These transcribers are working on our best-in-class transcription platform, allowing them to maximize their accuracy and productivity. As a result, we are able satisfy our customers’ demand for an easy-to-use service, with 98%+ accuracy and a fast turnaround time.
The TranscribeMe team is Alexei Dunayev, Greg Igor Feerer, Chirag Ahuja, Danijel Duvnjak, Helga Sonier, Reuben Metcalfe, Nick Goloborodko, Victor Obolonkin, Dmitry Istomin. Learn more at transcribeme.com.