Happy Scribe is the audio transcription tool that has been making headlines after becoming a hit with journalists and researchers. André Bastié and Marc Assens, both students of Dublin City University, created the platform three months ago while working on a college assignment. As the popularity of the platform quickly grew, so too has the media coverage with Happy Scribe being featured in The Irish Times, Tech Crunch and many more.
As a Masters in Electronic Commerce student, André was looking for an easier way to transcribe a series of interviews he had been working on as part of a research assignment. He discussed the issue with his flatmate (and soon to be co-founder) Mr Assens, a final year undergraduate student in computer science at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, who is completing his final semester at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics in DCU’s School of Computing. This conversation sparked the initial idea which led to the pair coming up with Happy Scribe.
“Basically, I was too lazy to transcribe them, so that is how it started.” André jokes.
What stands out most is the simplicity of the entire process. You go to the website, you enter your email address, you upload the audio, you pick what language it’s in, and then press submit. When it’s done transcribing, you will receive an email with a link. The link takes you to another section of the Happy Scribe website where you can listen back, edit and export the transcript.
Overall, the tool works very well and despite the background noise and some punctuation errors, it transcribed this interview in about 5 minutes. However, the pair are not satisfied yet and see plenty of room for improvements.
“There is a lot to be done! What we have now does have traction and the users that are visiting are remaining so in that sense, it is already working but we are still working hard to make improvements and we also have some really cool features coming up.
“We are also working hard to improve the accuracy and punctuation. We have been testing the punctuation for the English American setting and it is working quite well so we hope to extend this to more languages very soon.”
Having initially outlined researchers as their target users, André and Marc both acknowledge that this has developed and changed as the website began to gain traction.
“We started with researchers at first but we then discovered that there was a big demand from journalists. We were in touch with the Poynter Institute in the US and they wrote two articles on us which help us to reach and confirm this market. However, more recently we have discovered a much greater opportunity and a larger user group which we hadn’t expected; the medical sector. So that is something we plan to look at and focus on in the following month.”
The question of ‘What has been your biggest challenge to date?’ is followed by a laugh from both André and Marc.
“Well, we had the amazing and really smart idea of starting the business during our final exams. The first Poynter article, which generated a huge amount of traffic to the site, also came out during this time. So it was an extremely busy time. So, time has definitely been our biggest challenge, especially since it is just the two of us”
Despite the heavy college workload and ongoing work involved in the new venture, André and Marc are keen to continue to improve the online tool and have big plans for the future.
“Our focus at the moment is creating awareness about the product but also developing the features that our users really need. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and one of the main ways we do this is through feedback from our users. We are constantly exchanging with them and have been doing 1-2 customer interviews per week. We also recently added a chat feature to the website. From this, we have had over 700 conversations with our customers in three months so we are constantly receiving feedback and using this information to improve.”
“Once the college assignments are finished we plan to take a short break. Then in September, we will be going to the countryside in France. We want to be away from any kind of distraction so we can really focus on product development of Scribe for one month. After that, we will be based in Barcelona as Marc is going to do his Masters there.”