An event with DIT is always an exciting prospect and the recent mission to China was no exception and truly delivered beyond expectation.
We visted Guangzho, Shenzen, Chengdu, Guiyang in the space of a week and it is amazing to see the pace of technology innovation in China and how they are pushing their 2020 innovation agenda.
The first day in Shenzen was a day dedicated to meeting Huawei with an interesting presentation from Huawei and their technology team, which proceeded with an interesting chat with the Huawei innovation team where we discussed the Speechmatics real-time ASR capabilities.
We then headed to Chengdu – the home of Sichuan food and hotpots! We spent the morning meeting several interesting companies and the afternoon at the UK-CHINA BIG DATA COLLABORATION SEMINAR. The big data seminar was opportunity to meet many more interesting Chinese companies. We then spent the evening with Mr & Mrs Li who treated us to local cuisine and shows which were astounding.
Guiyang was next on the agenda which is a fascinating city and is one of the core focus areas for Chinese innovation and they are in the midst of building a large research park. We attended the Big Data Expo event where we met with Chinese press and iFlyTek who showcased their real-time captioning system and education system and also discussed their translation device. We also met with some of the biggest Chinese companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
We experienced great warmth and humour throughout the duration of the visit and are excited for future prospects working with Chinese companies and can’t wait to visit again soon. DIT and CBBC were a great support, running a seamless event that encapsulated why the UK and China should be in collaboration.
We’re excited for London Technology Week 2017 next week with more DIT run events strengthening collaborations with the UK and the rest of the world.
Benedikt von Thüngen, Speechmatics
It all began at the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs (CUE) awards ceremony 3 years ago, where I won an award on the night with £1,000 prize money. And today I’m sitting in our new offices, surrounded by 32 full-time employees watching as our company continues to scale rapidly in 2017.
So how did it happen?
I first met Tony at a CUE networking event, my initial reaction was “100% no-way that I will get involved in a software company”. A few weeks later Tony posted into the CUE Facebook group and we got talking again. I was already involved in several other start-ups but after some consideration, I thought it might be worth a shot. Tony had developed the technology and frameworks but needed someone to commercialise the company.
I started working with Tony when there were only 5 employees at the company. Myself and my colleague spent our days cold-calling everyone and anyone we could to try and get a sale. It was a numbers game. Eventually someone was going to need and want us. And they did. By the end of 2014 we had doubled in size to 10 people – still working out of a shed.
We focused our efforts on our cloud-based system which we needed to ensure was commercially appealing. When Google made their Speech API available, we knew we had to beat them. So, we ran tests and found that we were 30-50% more accurate than Google.
So where are we now?
We have been generating strong revenues since we commercialised in 2014 and we just closed an investment round at the end of 2016. We have expanded our capabilities to provide our customers with technology that can be deployed on-premises and we recently launched our new real-time technology. The real-time technology can be used offline, on a device. We also developed an automated framework that gives us the ability to develop any language in the world in a matter of weeks. Overcoming the three fundamental challenges with current products on the market today.
- Pick up the phone and speak to anyone
- Be tentacular, speak to everyone you can in an organisation
- Don’t be too smart, there is always someone smarter
- Always manage expectations
- Find your focus as a company
- Challenge people
The CUE event gave me the platform I needed to meet the right contacts at the right time. Jules Robertson, CUE speakers representative says “we encourage entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and skills as future company leaders. With the multiple rounds of competitions, we reward £100, £1000 and £5000 to individuals or teams to help elevate them to produce a successful company. We hold the awards and networking events to help introduce our entrepreneurs to contacts and hear from industry experts”.
Who says you can’t lead a deep technology company as a non-techie?
Benedikt von Thuengen, Speechmatics