Shedding light on dark data – how veteran journalist and tech entrepreneur Jeff Kofman is using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to redefine the way we search, edit and verify digital media with Trint.com
“You have to, as a first time entrepreneur–and maybe always as an entrepreneur–sincerely believe that what you’re doing matters, works, and that the world will want it.”
Jeff is an Emmy Award-winning news correspondent who is most famous for his coverage of Muammar Gadhafi and the Libyan Revolution.
He has worked in the news sector for three decades, also covering events like the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the Arab Spring for ABC, NBC, and CBS News. Primarily based out of London, England, Jeff has also worked in Miami, Florida and New York, N.Y. of the U.S., Chile, Haiti, Cuba, Toronto, and various locations in the Middle East.
His experience with transcribing interviews, press conferences, and speeches led to co-founding Trint, a platform that solves many of the obstacles he faced as a journalist, and unlocks opportunities to derive new insights from the previously invisible 80% of web traffic.
Trint.com is a resource for audio and video transcriptionists that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the process. You can insert time stamps automatically based on quotes found in the attached media, adjust timecodes, export highlighted quotes, and use the platform to share your work with associates. Trint offers individual and team plans: Pay-as-you-go, Basic, Supercharged, and Corporate”. Each tier adds more transcription hours and monthly rollover hours, and all offer unlimited editing and sharing of documents within the allotted times.
“Making no decision is often worse than making a bad decision. You can fix a bad decision in most cases, but indecision paralyzes your ability to move forward.”
Jeff’s extensive career as a reporter is a story in and of itself. He has literally been all around the world covering what he described as “epic” events, fulfilling the dream of his younger self by capturing these world-changing occurrences first-hand. By his own account, at no point during his journey did he expect to become an entrepreneur. However, as with many vocations to which one dedicates his life, even the adventurous life of a globetrotting journalist can grow stale. Whilst his career as a journalist delivering important stories during tumultuous times made a difference in the way readers perceive these situations, his biggest contribution to journalism may still be his transcription software called Trint.
Jeff’s foray into software development and entrepreneurship came when he took a buyout after fourteen years at ABC and began working on a book while teaching university courses in London for American and Canadian students. During that, he ran into three individuals who would form the nucleus of Trint, and had a “lightbulb moment”. After deciding he didn’t want to see the idea for Trint become a missed opportunity, Jeff went to work. There were three rebuilds and multiple iterations of beta testing before they had a product that worked as intended. One of the early lessons they learned, as Jeff puts it, is “don’t work in a vacuum.” The Trint team was able to overcome difficult technical challenges by continuing to rebuild and be patient with the user interface and the user experience.
Jeff was able to make the transition from news correspondent to entrepreneur by keeping a single-minded focus on his destination. He compares entrepreneurship to walking a tightrope between two points, a situation where it is very easy to become discouraged and fall. His advice for these scenarios was simply “don’t look down”, meaning always stay focused on the goal in front of you even when it feels like you’re losing balance. Jeff was able to parlay is experiences in journalism–chasing big stories in often dangerous areas, dealing with customs and the different laws involved with travel–into the tenacity required to stay the course in his business.
He believes it is better to put out a product that can be incrementally improved and test its effectiveness against the market rather than avoiding release until it’s 100% complete. This “testing of assumptions” is another journalism tenant, wherein the entrepreneur possesses the humility to constantly learn and benefit from the expertise of others rather than moving aggressively based on his or her own ego.
Jeff deals with the issues presented daily by seeing them as challenges rather than failures, and asserts that if you communicate and inquire with experts in any given field, you will likely find there is a way to navigate most problems. The second part of that is simply completing these necessary steps even if they are difficult, while avoiding defeatist terminology.
We were honored to have someone as esteemed as Jeff Kofman share his insights in a 34-minute interview. We covered many subjects, such as the determination and focus necessary to be successful in business, how to avoid pitfalls for first-time entrepreneurs, and transitioning from a job to owning a business. As always, thanks for listening!
Originally published here.