The Times: Li Ka-shing backs start-up that has a way with words

Li Ka-shing backs start-up that has a way with words
January 7, 2018

A British start-up that uses artificial intelligence to transcribe audio files has raised $3.1m (£2.4m) from a raft of top investors including Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, owner of the mobile phone operator Three.

London-based Trint has 21 employees. It was founded by Toronto-born Jeff Kofman, an award-winning journalist who said the idea came to him after spending “thousands of hours of my life transcribing interviews”. At a tech conference he met a developer called Laurian Gridinoc who said it might be possible to create a system that automatically transcribed files.

Kofman left America’s ABC News, where he was London correspondent, in late 2014 to work on the idea full-time. The tool is not 100% accurate but Kofman said it is better than professional transcription services that can charge up to $100 for an hour of tape and take a day to turn around.

Trint charges as little as $12 for a searchable transcription that is delivered in minutes. Early customers include ESPN, Vice News and National Public Radio in America, as well as academics and law firms.

Kofman said: “We’re not claiming that we’re giving you perfect, but what we are claiming is that we’ll do the heavy lifting quickly and at low cost to let you search and verify and polish.”

He plans to use the cash infusion from Li’s venture capital firm Horizons Ventures to hire more staff and improve his product.

More than 80% of the content on the internet is audio or video, none of which is searchable. The goal, said Kofman, is to make all of it accessible. He added: “It is taking dark data and shedding light on it.”

Originally published here.

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