November 3, 2014
Clarify Inc is a self-service API that allows you to make your audio and video files actionable via search and extracted keywords and topics. The team, founded by Paul Murphy and Ivo Rothschild, chose this name for their startup because Clarify is “what we do. We make opaque data searchable. We give you insights into it.” Clarify believes that the huge volume of phone calls or conference videos that are recorded every day provides information that can be used to create new and better services and products.
Since winning Readers Choice at the Tech Cocktail Startup Showcase in Austin back in September, the team has had a lot to celebrate. According to their blog, they’ve announced the completion of their seed funding round with participation from Projector Ventures and Silverton Partners, additional notable support from Austin-based Blake Chandlee, several other early Facebook executives; Michael Rauchman, a pioneer in electronic trading; Brett Hurt, the founder of Coremetrics and Bazaarvoice; and Sam Decker, a founder of Mass Relevance (now Spredfast) and now a Clarify Board Member. The funding announcement also shared that over 400 developers have already used their API, clearly validating the idea that they are building something that people need.
On the topic of user development and validation, Murphy adds:
“Our current priority is getting out and meeting you, our potential customers. Our beta users came up with use-cases we hadn’t imagined, and I suspect there are lots more coming. We’re already talking to developers in education, telecoms, financial services, human resources, healthcare, and media. Everyone has media files and everyone’s trying to figure out what to do with them.
We all know the problem is getting worse.”
But Murphy knows that more user conversations are to be had, and they are still looking for developer feedback and excitedly watching for the future of this technology. “The real game changers are going to be built on top of our API. We know that, and we can’t wait to see what they are.”
We were also able to get a Q&A with Keith Casey, Director of Product for Clarify.
What has been the hardest lesson you have learned in developing Clarify?
The difference between a project manager and a product manager. As a product manager, I can make my case for a direction and priorities but at the end of the day, I don’t have the authority to tell people to do specific tasks. I’m dependent on the team accomplishing what they’ve set out to do.
Which book on entrepreneurship has helped you the most on your journey?
Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
If you had only $1000 to do some additional marketing, where would you put these funds?
If I also had the time to support it, I would do keyword research around our target customer demographics. I want a better understanding of the terminology they use, how they describe things, and how we might be able to meet their needs better.
Besides the technology used in your startup, what other trends excite you today?
I think voice interfaces are going to be more common for everyone in just a few years. While Siri was a starting point, the Cortana (a Windows Phone!) is so far beyond it, it’s almost laughable. While I’ve always been an Android user, the Cortana is making me reconsider.
What advice do you wish someone had given you before joining startup life?
I’ve been an entrepreneur and with different startups for almost 15 years. I wish someone had taught me the how and why to pitch much earlier in my career. Now I can do it but I feel like I missed some great opportunities by not knowing a good approach.
What’s the most surprising, or weirdest, way that someone has used your product?
People use us to make their audio and video searchable and to discover insights on what is (and isn’t) said. There’s a rumor that a student took recordings from all of his classes and loaded them into our system. Once he was confident all the data was ready, he searched for the phrase “on the exam.” I’m not sure how he did on his tests but he deserved an A for creativity.
What has been the most encouraging sign that Clarify will be successful?
That people just get it. The vast majority of people we interact with hear about our work and immediately say “wait, you can do that?” And then they usually come up with a couple use cases we hadn’t considered.
What’s the biggest advantage, and disadvantage, to being a startup in Austin?
Austin is a great town for startups. There’s a large and supportive ecosystem that is super connected. With the addition of groups like Techstars, there’s an influx of money, talent, and attention that is just accelerating things. The disadvantage is that there are still too few investors. Jason Seats, Managing Director of Techstars talks about this often. In Austin, once you’ve heard 20 “no’s” you’ve covered a good part of the ecosystem. We want to find another 100 people to pitch and work with.
What quirky fact about your startup would you like to share?
Our office is a converted storage shedand our neighbors are another tech startup, a bike shop, and a membership-only graffiti club.
Wow! That’s pretty cool!
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