Israeli transcription co VerbIT raises $11m

Israel Materials 30 March 2018 12:37 (UTC +04:00)

VerbIT has developed a platform that combines a speech recognition engine with freelance transcribers working with the company, Globes reports.

Israeli startup VerbIT, which provides transcription services that combine automated transcription algorithms with human transcription, has raised $11 million in a seed round led by Oryzn Capital, Vertex Ventures, and HV Ventures.

VerbIT believes that the professional transcription market is worth tens of billions of dollars. Conventional transcription companies currently provide completely manual transcription, which makes professional transcription services expensive and inefficient. Completely automated transcription, on the other hand, achieves average accuracy of only 70%, making it inferior and unprofessional. VerbIT has developed a platform that combines a speech recognition engine with thousands of freelance transcribers working with the company.

VerbIT works in three areas. The first is automated transcription algorithms developed independently by the company. The second is a marketplace for transcribers from all over the world and a transcription platform on which they correct the result of automated transcription. Machine learning is used to improve the transcription algorithm using every correction by the transcribers. The third area is the company's application, through which the customer orders a transcription and receives the final product.

The company also collects data on individual speakers in order to improve its ability to transcribe them in the future, VerbIT CEO Tom says. "Say that we know that the speaker is a physics lecturer. We have his previous lectures, his accent, how fast he talks, and his vocabulary, which we use for his transcriptions. In addition, as we get more and more customers, we have more people to use in training the algorithm."

VerbIT is the second company founded by Livne, a veteran entrepreneur. He founded VerbIT in November 2016 together with CTO Dr. Eric Shellef, a cofounder of travel platform RoutePerfect and VP engineering Kobi Ben Tzvi, cofounder and former CEO of processors manufacturer Wintegra. VerbIT currently works with thousands of freelancers in over 20 countries, and provides transcription services to customers, mainly in education. Livne says that the company had revenue in the millions of dollars already in its first year. "Our customers include the London Business School, Stanford University, and Coursera. We work with large customers. Being a customer of ours means a minimum of $10,000," he says.

"We are very focused on the customer, and we started working with customers from the first day," Livne says. He explains that the company did not plan to raise money, but when investors contacted them with an offer of $11 million, the company decided to accept it: "We got a very good offer that we couldn't refuse." VerbIT plans to use the money for expansion and acquiring professional expertise in other spheres of transcription, such as media, law, and finances, and to diversify the company's activity, mainly in English-speaking markets. VerbIT plans to double its current staff of 30 in Tel Aviv for these purposes.

"I don't regard the financing round as a goal - it's a means. The goal is to build a large company that will eventually have an IPO. As soon as we see that we've got a well-oiled machine, and it looks like the next financing round could propel us from linear growth to exponential growth, we'll know that we really need another financing round."