Paul Murhpy Talks about His Startup -- Clarify
Where are you from
not from anywhere really. I was born in Argentina of a French mother
and American father. Actually, my mother
is only half French. She’s also half
Luxembourger. She was born in Ecuador. My father is part Irish, part
French-Canadian, and part Iroquois. He
was born near Boston. My brother was
born in Italy. I went to school in
France, Italy, and the US.
don’t have anywhere to go back to. I
only pay attention to where I’m going, which is handy in my line of work.
wife is Australian.
What university did you go
went to Columbia in NY. I dropped out,
twice. It felt like life in slow motion.
What is the idea behind your
files are completely unexploited digital resources. They are full of data, but
it’s impossible for a developer without a background in signal processing to
access it. Our startup, Clarify, extracts that data and makes it available to
our API allows developers to index and search audio and video libraries with a
few lines of code. The web site Mobento, for example, uses our technology to
make the content of educational videos accessible to students and professors.
What need does it fulfill?
do anything truly interesting with audio and video files – anything besides
playing them back – developers need to be able to manipulate their content. Today
developers can search text files, extract their keywords, even summarize and
translate them. Clarify is allowing these developers to do the same with rich
What exactly does it do?
Our platform first figures out what sort of content a developer sent it. Is it speech? Music? Noise? English? German? It then uses the best possible speech recognition technology to extract words from the media, and indexes those words along with any other data the developer wants to associate with the media.
back to the Mobento example. They send us video descriptions, speaker names,
etc., and all of that – along with the words spoken in the video – is
searchable via our API.
Who is it for?
The API is for developers. The products they build are for many different industries.To date we’ve come across a lot of use-cases. Over 400 developers have signed up for access to Clarify since we launched into beta. A lot of their use-cases have surprised us, and we know there are a lot more out there. The more data we expose, the more use-cases developers will turn up.
any industry that is generating or collecting media files needs our technology.
What was the most challenging
aspect of starting up?
We are bridging two words: the speech community and the application development community. Science and engineering. These communities speak very different languages and work very differently. Figuring out how to bring that science from the lab to the real world has been our biggest challenge. We think we’ve done a pretty good job so far, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
What is the next step for you
and your business?
just raised a substantial round of funding that is going to allow us to
continue extending our platform and introduce it to developers throughout the
US. Both of those are pretty exciting, and they both require a lot of work. We
couldn’t be more ready to face both challenges.
What advice do you have for
really difficult to introduce new thinking and new technology into the world. I
can’t count the number of times people have asked me: “By why does anybody need
Some day we’ll look back and smile, the same way we smile when we think of all the people who asked: “Why do I need a computer?”, “Why do I need broadband?”, “Why do I need a cell phone?”, or my favorite: “Why would I need a phone that does more than make phone calls?”
It’s easy to feel smug in retrospect, but a new idea has to survive to be able to consider it once it’s been accepted, i.e., once it’s “normal”. Keeping it alive long enough for that to happen is hard.
hard to fund a business. It’s hard to build the right team. It’s hard to write software
that works and scales. It’s hard to avoid running out of money. And while we’re
doing all those hard things, we have to ignore all the people who tell us we’re
wasting your time, and our inner voices that tell us how much easier your life
would be if we just quit and got a real job.
What resource have you found
to be the most helpful and why?
That’s easy: my circles of support. Family, friends, advisors, mentors, and investors. I don’t know if obsession counts as helpful, but it’s certainly necessary. That’s the fuel that keeps me going, but without the people around me I’m pretty sure that fuel would have powered me straight into a brick wall by now.