Startup spotlight: Chirag Ahuja, TranscribeMe

Chirag Ahuja says you gotta roll fast to keep up in the startup world.

Chrag Ahuja My first job was … Research scientist

And now I'm ... Chief marketing officer (CMO) at TranscribeMe (and Head Honcho, LetsLunch NZ)

In a nutshell, we ... convert voice to text. TranscribeMe provides an easy-to-use service smartphone to text transcription, with 98 percent accuracy and a ridiculously fast turnaround time.

And we do it because … We value time. A lot. We believe all working individuals should be given the opportunity and the tools to work in the most productive way possible. Customers get one-click transcription using their smartphones and receive an email within 24 hours, while transcribers get the world's most advanced cloud platform for transcribing.

We started out … by winning the Auckland Startup Weekend September 2011 with a team of four, and now we have grown to a team of 10-12. It all started when Alexandra, partner of our CEO Alexei Dunayev, asked him to help her with four hours of PhD research transcription. It takes three hours to transcribe an hour of audio on an average. Alexei, being a technology and efficiency fanatic, wanted to find a better way to do so than wasting his own time on it.

And now … We are rolling. Fast. We have raised a seed round of capital from family and co-founders. We are working very hard to get our product to market by March so that we can launch our public beta at DEMO ASIA 2012 in Singapore – a global platform for launching emerging startups.

Our philosophy is ... Value time. It never comes back.

To work here, you've got to be… Engaged, involved, capable of wearing many hats, polymath, understand the lean startup methodology, know how to build and develop new business relationships and maintain existing ones, and most of all – gotta roll fast.

Our customers are ... people/organisations who want to capture the hidden value of their spoken word, and would like to have the ability to search, share & edit it. Qualitatively, this includes market research companies, journalists, writers, religious organisations, research students, universities, FM radios, sales individuals, conference organisers.

Right now, the industry is … mature and established. However, things are changing as incumbent behemoths are satisfied with the current model of outsourcing as they are milking millions of dollars due to established processes.

Right now, we're focusing on ... four fronts:
1. Signing up paying beta customers and getting them to test our service,
2. Building the minimum viable product to test our Ttechnology platform.
3. Building our crowd of transcribers.
4. Raising the next round of funding

And next, we will ... Develop our technology and processes further based on the feedback of our early adopters. We have adopted the lean startup methodology. We build, test and iterate. We apply this methodology across all departments of our company: inbound marketing, customer development and technology development.

The biggest business lesson we've learned… The most important thing in startups is momentum. You need to have that. Otherwise, everything falls apart. The whole team relies on each other to provide momentum in achieving goals in various departments. If there is lack of visible progress and validated learning, the team will start losing interest, and eventually, the fire extinguishes.

If I wasn't doing this, I'd be … Two things:
1. Enlightening ignorant souls to look inwards, within themselves, rather than joining the "rat race" of success in the modern world.
2. Encouraging school students to think differently.

I'm inspired by… Nandan Nilekani, governpreneur and Seth Godin, marketing guru

I can't live without… People. They are my fuel for life.

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