ascribe.ai, a free app which represents a breakthrough in affordability for AI-driven speech transcription of video and a...
Video tools today are primitive
There are about 300,000 teams worldwide who shoot and edit video, a number expected to double to 600,000 by 2024. Nearly every company, brand and venue is ramping up video creation to reach their audience. Yet the tools for pulling together the right content for editing are often as basic as loose hard drives, post-it notes and the odd spreadsheet.
Studies have shown that a lot of time is wasted just trying to find relevant content, and even re-shooting material that has already been shot because it can't be found.
Solving a key problem in video
axle ai is software that helps media teams search and manage their video content. We harness cutting-edge machine learning technology and software development tools to build a shrink-wrapped platform that solves this. We've sold to hundreds of emerging and growing teams across corporate, sports, church, political and educational markets, and aim to make the onboarding process as frictionless as possible. This is in sharp contrast to the traditional offerings in this space, which are semi-custom enterprise software, generally priced $50,000 and up, targeting traditional broadcasters.
Lightweight but powerful
axle ai has three main products: 1. our flagship axle ai 2019 software, which lets creative teams search, tag and manage their media through a radically simple browser interface; 2. connectr.ai, our visual workflow tool for media that makes helps teams build cost-effective automated video processes, with almost no knowledge of code, and 3. our new ascribe.ai freemium plug-in for easy access to axle Speech transcription services from inside Adobe Premiere Pro for Mac and PC.
All three products are shipping and generating revenue. Together, they represent over 60 person-years of engineering investment.
$854k revenue in 2019
- axle ai's revenues were $854,000 in 2019, up from $792,000 in 2018.
- Gross margins grew from 79% to 90%, as we completed our transition from a mixed software/integration business model to being more of a pure software company.
- We're seeing strong interest in all our products from new incoming leads and the significant industry mailing list (40,000+ contacts) we've been able to develop organically from our website, customer base and trade shows
- Most of our conversations and sales are with prospects who have never bought this kind of software before, which implies that there's a large untapped market.
Used by major brands
axle ai has over 600 customers to date, including many of the world's most recognizable brands and media companies. Our customers tend to be the heads of video departments at these larger organizations; axle's software is generally deployed in workgroups of 3 to 30 people. We also sell to many smaller production companies, documentary teams and even the video teams for several presidential candidates, as well as country star Kenny Chesney.
Software = high margins
axle ai's revenue stream, with gross margins of 90%, is a mix of software license sales, recurring revenues from software use and professional services. A typical axle ai 2019 sale has a lifetime value (LTV) averaging $13,000 at a customer acquisition cost (CAC) of $3,500. As the company shifts to more of a SaaS revenue model aimed at the wider base of video creation teams, both the LTV and CAC are shifting downwards based on a larger number of smaller customers overlaid on our existing bootstrapped business and growth.
The market for equipment to capture and store video is massive, and growing quickly. It's estimated that by 2024, over $16 billion (up from $6.9 billion in 2017) will be spent annually on data storage devices housing pro video, and nearly twice that on high-end video cameras to capture that footage. We're building our business around the idea that editing teams will need some sort of tool to manage all the files that are created.
While the number of these teams is growing rapidly, the cost of technologies needed to house and manage the content is dropping quickly. For the first time ever, a small team can affordably implement networked storage and keep a shared version of all their footage, and archive older material to the cloud as needed. This is a huge step up from the typical stack of loose hard drives, which were really just digital versions of videotape with better access. What's missing today is the software toolset that will help these teams search and manage this content.
Fragmented but real
1. Larger systems companies - Sony, Avid, Dalet and Grass Valley all offer bigger, pricier solutions for video management, but they're beyond the reach of axle ai's targeted audience.
2. Network storage companies - video specialists EditShare, SNS, Facilis and others offer bundled software in this space. They're more limited in reach based on close hardware ties.
3. Video tagging and transcription companies - Veritone, GreyMeta, Rev and Digital Anarchy all focus on harnessing AI in the creative space, but don't compete directly with axle.
4. Major cloud companies Google, Amazon, Microsoft and even well-funded startup Frame.io all provide powerful solutions in the cloud, but don't (yet) tackle key aspects of on-premise video storage.
We make video searchable and manageable from anywhere
From its modest beginnings, video is on its way to becoming the primary medium of communication for the world’s 7 billion inhabitants. Meanwhile, machine learning can now transcribe video quickly as well as analyze, in depth, nearly any type of video content.
axle ai has grabbed an early lead in enabling small, agile teams who shoot all this video to search and manage their material, by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence. We hope you can join us by investing, as we solve one of the biggest problems out there.
A killer network
axle ai's prominent investors include industry heavyweight Jason Calacanis (his LAUNCH! accelerator invested $100k and now uses axle ai 2019 software to catalog and transcribe their footage) as well as Quake Capital (invested $150k) and several industry-savvy angel investors including Larry Boucher (a Silicon Valley pioneer in NAS storage), Apple veteran David Feldman, Mark Kalow and Ro Toyoshima.
Although it doesn't include investment, we've just been accepted into the first Media cohort at the Bay Area's Plug N Play accelerator. And yes, it's a virtual/remote cohort – no travel required.
The right stuff
axle ai's cofounders, Patrice Gouttebel and Sam Bogoch, have worked in software for decades and understand the creative apps space deeply. Sam was previously Director for Software Development at Avid, a leader in broadcast solutions. While there (2007-2012), he and his team drove rapid growth in departmental Interplay and Media Central products – sales grew from $17m in 2007 to $55m in 2012.
Patrice was formerly product manager at SeeFile, a digital asset management startup, and has a strong combination of software, IT and business skills. Our third cofounder and VP of Ops, Katy Scott (also from a media background) joined in 2013, 9 months after our launch. We love the challenge of bringing video to a whole new level.