Submitted for Publication in the book Mobile Analytics Playbook

Why innovation has halted in Corporate America and how to fix it by Yan Auerbach

On March 18th 2011 my girlfriend and I drove from New Jersey to Washington DC to meet with a reporter by the name of Walt Mossberg, from the Wall Street Journal. The topic was “Yan will be meeting with Walt and his Assistant Katie Boehret in Walt’s DC office at this time for a quick demo.” of SpeechTrans. SpeechTrans is an automated voice interpreter that allows two or more people speak to one another in numerous languages without needing human intervention. Perhaps I should first take a step back and explain how I got there to begin with.

In 2011 I was a young, naïve 25 year old Systems Admin and “Chicken Entrepreneur” as my business partner would call me, because I still had a full time job (which happened to be the Systems Admin at the world’s oldest Venture Capital Firm). The fact that I was in DC in the first place was a miracle in my mind because I was still just a refugee immigrant from Moldova who came to the Bronx NY when I was 3. I watched my parents work their way up from poverty through the power of education. They both had to go to college in their 40’s, while learning a new language in the process and graduated to give us a chance to go to a good College.

As I sat down with the reporters, I nervously began speaking in Russian and the app translated what I said from Russian back to another iPhone into English. After I was finished with the demo, I received a pat on the back and was sent on my way. Later I would get these comments from our PR company “*The Wall Street Journal – In person meeting/demo with Walter Mossberg took place on 3/18/2011. Walt said the meeting went well and will let us know if they decide to pursue coverage.” And he never wrote about us.

Nonetheless we continued to move forward, because as Rocky once said “It’s not how hard you hit, it’s how hard you get hit and get back up again and keep fighting.” since we were mostly a bootstrapped startup at the time we always had the mentality “the best way to work with a VC was not to need one” and thought we could do everything on our own and so we never gave up. Three years later, that same reporter was seen on stage with the CEO of Microsoft announcing the Skype Translator. As you can see here.

Fortunately for us, we always had a backup plan, and on the same day that I had the interview with the WSJ, I was also interviewed by Fox News. Thankfully, that segment actually ran that night for 4 minutes on Fox Channel 5 news in DC. It was the first time we received mainstream TV Coverage. We got back up and we were ready to rock!

That next morning we received a call from an executive from HP, at the time he was the director of the HP’s Personal Systems group. He said to my business partner and I over the telephone “I saw you on the news last night, and I was so excited I downloaded your app on my iPad and had my wife speak into it in Spanish and it translated everything she said perfectly into English.” Then he proceeded to say “Now I can finally understand what the in-laws have been saying about me all these years! We have to work together somehow and get this on all HP computers.”

Three years later we are going to be embedded 40 Million Intel powered Computers each year, our automated speech interpreter API is embedded within HP MyRoom’s web conferencing solution. Intelliconference is our conference bridge translation app which we had since 2011 and allows multiple participants to be on the same conference call with real time translation. Nonetheless, we are still a crowdfunded startup which has been primarily bootstrapped. How did we do this back in 2011 when Microsoft is coming out with this now 4 years later and they only have 6 languages and we have 44? Simple, the analytics and education which taught us how to do more with less and how to persevere through all the ups and downs of this roller coaster ride called the startup world.

95% of startups fall short of their initial projections which causes 34% of founders to suffer from depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD or some form mental issue. I always was taught two things growing up, don’t worry about the things you can’t control because they are out of your control, and don’t worry about the things you can control because if it’s up to you then just go out and do it. Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you, it is hard to start a company from scratch, especially a B2C company. How many CEO’s have been able to successfully start multiple Consumer facing companies compared to multiple B2B facing companies? Not many, if a B2C founder strikes gold once by starting a successful B2C company it is unlikely that will ever happen again unless it’s B2B. Conversely, with a B2B company the CEO’s are able to be successful time and time again because the founders know the customers through their relationships. Historically the B2C consumers are much harder to build a long term brand loyalty or bond with.

There have been too many times in my career as a start-up founder that I have witnessed the David versus Goliath story and each time, eventually through persistence, Goliath always gets defeated. One example was the movie Money Ball, when the general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), of the Oakland A’s must reinvent the game by outsmarting the richer ball clubs. A striking part of the movie that resonated with me was the fact that the richer baseball teams would actually give money to the competing teams to hire worse players and keep the best players for themselves. In order to compete, the general manager hired a Yale graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) who taught him how to use analytics to eventually get to a 19 game winning streak at a fraction of the cost of the other teams. This was achieved with analytics and they changed the way Baseball is played forever.

Similarly, in the movie The Imitation Game, during WWII, MI6 recruited a Mathematician to crack the Enigma Code which was previously thought unbreakable. After he broke the code the allies spent years listening to the communications of the enemy and statistically planning which battles to win or lose based on the analytics they collected such as amount of ammunition, or number of soldiers at each location.

In a startup, or any new software being developed, but in my case a bootstrapped one, it is akin to being in a war. The path to victory can be visible through the use of analytics which allows the users to guide the development roadmap themselves instead of the project managers. In 2014 a friend of mine who worked for the same VC I did but on the investment side, he had a Harvard degree, and was an Analyst then later went on to start his own App Startup and developed an app called CalPal. I spoke to him after I saw an article about his company TechCrunch which stated that he raised 1 million for his startup in just 4 weeks and I called to congratulate him. Over the phone I asked, “Just out of curiosity, how did you do it, did you know the investors?” his answer was “No”, then I asked “Did you have any customers?” Again he said “No”. Finally I gave up and I said “I’ve been working on SpeechTrans for 4 years we raised 320k from Angels, you started your company 4 weeks ago and raised 1 million with no customers, no investor connections, not even a powerpoint deck or financial projections, did you hold a gun to their head?” he laughed and said, “No, I just showed the investors the Analytics which explained that our app was being used more than the calendar app which was pre-loaded on their device, and that was all they needed to see it was a binary decision to invest or not invest, and based on the analytics it pointed to their decision to invest.”

That day I had an epiphany, I had become laser focused on utilizing analytics within our own App since it was not something we have done in the past other than just an afterthought. I had started to become obsessed with analytics and wanted to be able to understand our customers better than they knew themselves. My co-founder would tell me for years to add a Currency Converter in our App but I would fight back pushing that’s not our core competency. As it turns out our currency converter is the third most utilized function of our app now. Prior to App Pulse Mobile there was a constant conflict with my programmers each time I would tell them to add something to the analytics to track because it was slowing their primary job which was development of the app, and it would never get done, not for 4 years at least. They proclaimed that we have 44 language pairs and that would typically require a few thousand lines of code to properly log which language pair was selected the most often and by which device and how well it worked ect.

It was not until I was in Barcelona at HP Discover in 2014 when I heard a magic word called Tagless which changed the way that I thought about software development moving forward. I ended up meeting with the reps of the analytics software I saw partially in a presentation. From what I saw I thought it was possibly the silver bullet for analytics for Mobile Apps and I wanted to see for myself because I believe if it sounds too good to be true, it typically is. I tracked down the booth to meet them in person. Since I only caught the last part of the presentation, I initially thought there was some innovative new startup which was moving the automated mobile analytics needle further than I ever thought possible. The software claimed to be able to collect all of the analytics automatically from within your application within 15 minutes and no code being written. It sounded too good to be true. As it turns out, there was a subsection of the HP Software division which was creating a tool which was looking for Beta testers and I was one of the first in line to sign up. Prior I had spent hours discussing with my developers regarding how difficult it was to do full analytics ourselves since we were a small team and the amount of time it would typically require a dedicated developer just for maintaining the analytics module within the application and generating reports prior to learning about this tool.

Within 15 minutes I had our app instrumented in this tool and I started collecting analytics like I never imagined possible. I learned within the first 24 hours that our end users were spending 44 seconds on the registration screen. I immediately instructed my developers to stop all the work that they were doing and focus solely on adding single sign on to the registration page. The next day we released an update which got us 5 star reviews in the App Stores and brought the registration time down to 7 seconds. Without the analytics tools we would have possibly continued for 4 more years without understanding that it’s not what we want to add to our software that’s important, it’s what the End Users Want.

Our job in the startup world is to just help make people’s lives a little easier. Which is why we came up with our own Wearable Android Smartwatch in order to keep innovating. Our first smartwatch was showcased in 2011 at CES but now we have a device which is years ahead of the competition but we pre-load our competitors apps right on the device because we don’t compete we cooperate. Innovation has come down to the largest companies just copying the smaller ones and using their marketing muscles to push products which were already available years ago but not with the same marketing strength as the Goliaths. So the way to succeed and to keep innovating is to niche down on your customers and  focus on helping people above all else. Measure how effective your help was through the analytics you collected and then improve the application as quickly as possible allowing the users to dictate the roadmap. With HP’s App Pulse Mobile we were able to continue innovating based on our users actions and will continue to do so in the future because the only thing constant is change.

Media Coverage

Guest post by Eric Odell, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Application Performance Management


Eric Odell.jpgThe Application Performance Management team has been busy and will be displaying that work at HP Discover June 2-4 in Las Vegas. There will be three sessions:


Master the mobile moment, monitoring the user experience with HP AppPulse Mobile


Get the most out of a Mobile APM Solution, how SpeechTrans achieved a 5-star rated Mobile App


What drives customers to abandon mobile apps – Results from Mobile App Usage and Abandonment Survey


I think the most significant sessions that we are going to be doing are Master the mobile moment, monitoring the user experience with HP AppPulse Mobile; and one that’s called Get the most out of a Mobile APM Solution, how SpeechTrans achieved a 5-star rated Mobile App.


In both of those sessions we have Forrester analyst Ted Schadler; he is the VP and Principal Analyst for Application Development and Delivery at Forrester Research. We are also going to have Yan Auerbach, the COO of SpeechTrans, and a user of AppPulse Mobile.


Ted is going to be covering some of the material from his book ‘Master the Mobile Mind Shift’, which aligns very closely with the themes that we have for AppPulse Mobile.


He will be taking people through this concept of Mobile Moments but also about the Mobile app usage and abandonment survey that we conducted on user experience.

Another topic we are going to cover is the expectation gap. Customers today have these expectations that they want fulfilled and there is a performance gap that’s a big divide between what is being delivered and those expectations. The customers are expecting sub-second response time, snappy response time across any network; Forrester is saying that the businesses are providing multi-second response hence the gap.


Get the most out of a Mobile APM Solution, how SpeechTrans achieved a 5-star rated Mobile App

Yan Auerbach, COO of SpeechTrans, is going to talk about how he went from a 3-star app rating to a 5-star app, and how he used analytics to provide actionable insights to improve his UX.


His challenge was the lack of a cost-effective way to leverage usage data for continuous improvement, and when he applied AppPulse Mobile, they had the continuous monitoring that enabled them to improve their UI.


He will talk about how they are using AppPulse Mobile to even incentivize their developers. SpeechTrans is even bonusing their developers for keeping their FunDex score high because they have correlated a FunDex score above 95, with getting that 5-star rating.


Discovery Theater

The third session, which I have on my own, is in the Discovery Theater; it will focus on the survey results and what kind of processes you will want to put in place to respond to those results.   As a preview the survey revealed how 49% of people expect an app to respond in two seconds or less, 36% will stop using a mobile app because it’s draining their battery, 53% will uninstall it if it stops responding or crashes, the net result is that it’s going to kill your brand.


I think that anybody who is managing mobile apps such as, VP of Applications, a mobile product manager, mobile app owners and developers will get insight into the user’s perspective.


When you compare what Forrester will be sharing in terms of customer expectations, the performance gap and what businesses are actually providing in the context of the survey results you realize that businesses are simply not giving customers what they need in terms user experience.


You can register for HP Discover here.


HPD Register2 banner Discover2015LV 2.JPG

Mashable10 Ways to Hack your morning Routine

 SmallBizDaily – How Translation Tech is Changing the Game for SMBs

FOX News – Crowdfunding ripens into a multi-billion dollar industry


The Next Silicon Valley –  Mobile trends: looking towards a connected world 


Computer America – Craig Crossman’s Computer America with SpeechTrans


Network World – Product of the Week Roundup (SpeechTrans Bluetooth Wristband Watch)


ComputerWorld – Apple security faces biggest test in 2015


Business Cloud – SpeechTrans has launched Baveling, a cloud-based chat system with support for real-time translation into more than 40 different languages


SpeechTrans Ultimate Windows 8.1  – Press Release


Fast Company – How To Raise Money When VCs Aren’t An Option


Globe and Mail – A language translator wristband and five more business-travel gadgets


FOX Orlando – Central Florida based app translates speech into 44 languages


ABC Orlando – WFTV speaks to creator of translation app


Huffington Post – Mother’s Day Gifts for the Technomom in Your Family


Windows IT Pro – Not to be Outdone, SpeechTrans to Demonstrate Google Glass Translator in June at HP Discover


SpeechTechnology Magazine – SpeechTrans Moves Translation Services to Microsoft Azure


KGO-TV – 7 On Your Side tests language translation app called SpeechTrans


SpeechTrans Enhances Real-Time Translation Services Worldwide Using Microsoft Azure – Press Release 


TMCNet – A Patent-Pending Application Programming Interface, SpeechOne API Launched


Windows IT Pro – The Bing Translator Competitor, SpeechTrans, Demos at HP Discover


Network World – SpeechTrans Wristband Watch : A small step towards the Babel Fish


Fast Company – Talk To The Smartwatch, Cause The Phone Ain’t Listening






Lifehacker Australia


Real Time Communications








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