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Building a €10k+/month Captioning and Subtitling Service On Demand

Learn how Florian started his €10k+/month subtitling service.

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Florian and I’m 32 years old. I am French and I live in the south of France near Marseille.

3 years ago I founded checksub.com, a professional subtitling service on demand. 

It all started in my previous company where I was making communication videos for companies. Some startups started asking me to subtitle their videos with the emergence of videos on Facebook and Youtube.

At first, I thought it would be easy. But at the end of my first subtitling project I remember thinking, “never again”.

In fact, I didn’t realize how long it took to do captioning and subtitling. But I was getting more and more requests from my clients and after a while, I decided to come up with a solution. 

So I designed a site where you can upload a video and get professionally created subtitles from an expert and professional translator.

I had tested the competitor solutions and each time I had big quality problems and sometimes they only handle English videos like Rev.com.

So I wanted a service that focused on the quality of the work done.

After the first wave of projects, I started to select freelancers to give me a hand. My priority being the quality of the service, it was not easy to find qualified people. 

I put in place a selection process that was rigorous enough to ensure that I recruited the right people, my principle being that if I had doubts about a person, it was because there was no doubt and I should not select them.

Once this process was in place I was able to concentrate on building an internal subtitling tool. The existing subtitling tools could be improved because they didn’t take into account the latest innovations.

So I went back to training to learn how to code. 

And at the end of this training I started to develop an internal tool integrating voice recognition. Today our automatic subtitling editor is one of the most powerful on the market. 

Some of our clients and prospects have asked us if they could use it with their teams, so we just launched a SaaS offer a few days ago. 

It allows you to create and add subtitles to a video thanks to automatic captioning and subtitling.

Unlike all existing solutions or Youtube’s automatic subtitles, it’s very simple to have a qualitative result. For our services and our SaaS product, we target professionals who need to have a quality result.

Today we generate more than 10k€ per month

For the professional subtitling service, we offer a price per minute that will depend on the length of the video and if the subtitling is in a language foreign to the video.

For the new online automatic subtitling editor offer there is a free offer and two pay-per-minute offers.

We are 3 people currently in the team. We regularly call freelancers we know when we need them.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

To test the idea I used strikingly.com to create a site.

Then I made an order form with JotForm that I could embed in the striking website. 

I called 10 people I knew who worked in audiovisual production.

I introduced the service and invited them to place an order when they had a need. 

Within a few days I received more than 20 orders. I was all alone so I spent my days subtitling videos. 

I was able to purchase, do the task, and accomplished my time-sensitive objective. 

Of course, when it comes to customer service, customer satisfaction is one of the keys to success. 

We’re there to make life easier for them. I love it when we manage to provide a service to a customer who is facing difficulty. And when we’re there when the customer needs us, it necessarily builds loyalty. 

He becomes a partner and not just a customer.

Our acquisition’s mainly recommendations but also some articles I wrote on blog platforms. 

But we are working on it to see how we can optimize this since we now have one of the best services and products on the market.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

The main challenge was how to manage peaks in demand while ensuring quality.

Sometimes some clients have several hours of subtitling to do. 

So this represents several hours or days of work. At the beginning we had to limit our communication because we were not sure we had enough resources to meet the demand. As a result, we have optimized our process and taken on new partners. Today we are able to respond to very large demands. 

The mistake I made was to limit my communication for fear of not being able to meet the demand. By encountering the problem I would have been forced to find a solution more quickly. But this has enabled us to always provide a high-quality service to our customers.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Mainly I listen to French podcasts like GrowthMakers, Generation Do It Yourself and le gratin. These are podcasts that allow you to discover other entrepreneurial backgrounds and their tips to develop their business. A bit like this article by the way. I also read “The hard thing about hard things” which is a best-seller in the field. Whenever I get the chance, I read articles on medium.com or on company blogs like trello.com or loom.com

I always have a reflex to keep costs under control. I only spend money when it becomes mandatory. I always make my purchasing choices in the medium term and not in the short term. When I became an entrepreneur, another experienced entrepreneur told me “as an entrepreneur you have to be a cockroach, because it’s one of the only animals able to survive a nuclear attack”.

Since the beginning of my entrepreneurial career, I have the ambition to build a history on the long-term. I have never wanted to set up a company with a goal to sell it in a year and then go back to being a well-paid employee. That’s why fundraising has never been my dream because I see the constraints behind it. I think that being rich is a good solution. But if we want to live an adventure in time I think it’s better to bootstrap and then call on the banks if necessary.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Find an idea you like, quickly see if there is demand and start selling. Be quick and reinvest the money you earn to grow your business. Sometimes some ideas are good on paper but they may not be good for you. For example, you may not be able to find the customers to sell the idea to. You have to persevere without putting yourself in danger.

Once you have a choice, start thinking about the next step. How do you want to develop your idea? What more could you offer your customers? It is important to be dynamic in a world that is constantly moving.

Don’t follow your competitors without thinking about it. Maybe they are not going in the right direction. No one has a crystal ball.

Always plan for the worst. Today we see that the worst can happen very quickly. No one was able to predict the health crisis we are currently facing. Yet it will have a significant impact on the economy and our businesses. This is why it is important to always ask ourselves about the worst scenarios that can happen. And above all, plan a contingency plan. Having a contingency plan is the first step to being saved.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We’re just at the beginning of the adventure. With the launch of our automatic subtitling platform, we will be able to meet a lot more demand. We’re going to allow people who didn’t have the budget for professional subtitling to still add quality subtitles to a video. For example, many people who want to add subtitles to a Linkedin video use checksub.com

Secondly, our professional service is now well structured and we are able to respond to many requests. We have the best subtitling translators in languages like English, French, Spanish, Italian, German. That’s something huge. Our customers are very satisfied and we now have to offer this service to more people all over the world. We aim to exceed one million turnovers next year. And I think we’re going to get there. 

As a result of the coronavirus we can fear a more violent economic crisis than the financial crisis of 2008. Many startups are in danger of going bankrupt due to a lack of available financing. That’s why it’s important to base growth on turnover. It may be difficult to find outside money during the next 18 months. The startups that will survive will be those that have found financial balance. But at the end of this period the surviving companies will have many opportunities.

So we have to find a way to be a « cockroach » for the next 18 months to survive this « nuclear attack ».

7. Where can we learn more about you? 

You can contact me on my Linkedin to exchange. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/florianstegre

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