The next best thing to having the customer in the room
I just rebranded this newsletter from Supercalifragilistic to Chatter. Can you guess why? Many of you reported that the name was too long, hard to spell, tough to read and difficult to remember. So I listened, and there you go!
For this post I interviewed Prabhas Pokharel, CEO @ Reduct. I first learned about Reduct after reading how Superhuman uses it to interview customers. Reduct extracts text from video automatically so you can conduct interviews without worrying about taking notes.
Before you read anything else I want you to experience this product’s magic. Go to Reduct, scroll down a bit and hit play on the first video you find. It should look something like this 👇️
Did you notice what happens when you click on the embedded text next to the video? Don’t be shy, give it a try!
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How Reduct was born
I'm originally from Nepal. I came to the US for high school and that’s where I became good friends with Robert, my co-founder. I later joined a human centered design program at Stanford where I spent a lot of time interviewing people. My advisor was David Kelley, and we were focused on understanding people’s problems. Our methodology was talking to people in-depth (often for at least 90 minutes) to really understand their pain points. We recorded all the interviews and I spent an enormous amount of time clipping the videos down to the most meaningful moments. This became instrumental in inspiring the team and communicating ideas to other team members, but the process was tedious.
Meanwhile, Rob joined a lab started by Alan Kay and focused on the future of computing. He started thinking about speech as an interface and wrote an algorithm that connects speech, audio, and video together. We didn’t know it yet, but our two seemingly parallel paths were about to intersect!
Just when I was experiencing frustration with video editing, I saw Rob's demo and became excited about building a product around it. During one of Rob’s visits to California we decided to build a prototype. We finished it in three days, showed it to our friends at IDEO and by the end of the week we had our first contract! I then sent an email to the design user research mailing lists with a product demo and we received a lot of interest from companies like Intuit, Spotify, and Facebook. That's how we got our first set of customers, and since then we've been working with them on making sure our idea reaches its full potential.
The first iteration of the product let users upload a video file, get a transcript, and use highlighting to add annotations and download the video corresponding to specific sentences. An important part of the core experience was already there!
Build vs. buy
We built all of the technology. Transcription (we provide both automated and premium human transcription) is the only part of our pipeline that is outsourced.
We even built the search engine because human memory doesn’t work with keywords. We realized that from early conversations with users.
One early customer recorded an interview with Reduct, and then tried to find the moment where the interviewee was telling him about his sister. It turns out the story was actually about an aunt, not a sister. In his memory, the aunt was stored as “close female relative”, and then he mapped it to a sister, which is why he searched for “sister”. It was impossible to find the appropriate result since he was querying with the wrong keyword. That’s why we wrote a custom search algorithm that works with word embeddings and abstracts words to larger concepts. Using our algorithm, searching for “sister” would return “aunt” results as well as “sister” results.
We think of ourselves as a collaborative video storytelling platform. We believe there is a huge need for teams to store all videos in a collaborative repository. And what better place than one where you can quickly search through all your videos, and edit them as easily as text? This helps us shorten the feedback loop between the stakeholders that collaborate on a video, much like Figma did for design. Our vision for the product translated into growth within organizations. As user researchers adopted us, they started looping in video editors and storytellers because they needed to collaborate on projects. Thanks to Reduct they don’t need to wait to receive each other’s edits anymore!
There’s a number of interesting customer problems we’d like to solve in the future. For instance, uploading videos to Reduct creates unnecessary friction. One way to solve it is to let users import recordings directly from Zoom. Giving the users the ability to log in and then import all their recordings from Reduct is a game-changer in that regard. And the timing couldn’t be better, with the incredible growth Zoom recordings experienced during the pandemic.
Thank you Prabhas!
Learn more about Reduct
Reduct is a well-loved tool that helps product teams bring their customers’s stories to life for the whole organization through the power of video. They offer a free trial on their site, with $150 in transcription credits, and are a completely web native platform. I used Reduct to write this article and it helped me save countless hours! It’s one of those rare products that makes you wonder “how did people cope before?”.
Reduct has a nimble, 12-people team and they’re recruiting an engineer, a head of marketing, and a founding account executive. Check out the roles on their career page!
Thanks for reading!
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