Launched in 2021, startup vidby has AI-powered software program that interprets and dubs movies in 70 languages. However because the second day of the Ukraine struggle, founder and Kyiv native Alexander Konovalov has been utilizing it to assist the protection effort in a novel approach. Particularly, he interprets movies for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in 20 to 30 languages.
“Like several citizen, I need to assist defend my nation,” says Konavalov, who relies in Switzerland, the place he moved from Kyiv three years in the past. He’s additionally been doing every little thing he can to assist his 15 workers who’re in Ukraine now (or had been till lately).
Konovalov initially began translating movies on his personal, just about every single day, sending them to journalists and public relations companies. Extra lately, he’s been working instantly with Zelensky and the Ministry of International Affairs and solely translating particular movies at their request. Most are about 10 minutes lengthy, though one featured an roughly two-hour interview with Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first woman. He’s labored on about 75 movies in all.
Evacuations and Bombing Assaults
The corporate helped evacuate three workers across the begin of the struggle to close by European international locations and is within the strategy of working with two extra. (They’re all ladies with youngsters). Since then, some have returned to their properties.
Some workers’ properties have been destroyed in bombing assaults. The corporate’s Chief Technical Officer, for instance, is from Kharkiv and his home was destroyed in heavy bombing early on. “He has nowhere to return to,” says Konovalov. A designer from Kremenchuk, who lived 200 meters from a shopping center bombed in June, is on the point of evacuate to a different nation this week or subsequent.
Air Raid Interruptions
In March, operations just about shut down, however Konovalov obtained issues up and operating a month later. He’s paid workers their salaries all through and created a versatile work schedule, permitting folks to work at completely different instances throughout the day and night. “We’ve been in a position to develop a course of that works for everybody,” he says.
Nonetheless, it’s not straightforward. Convention calls are incessantly interrupted by air raid sirens. When that occurs, workers excuse themselves and head for a bomb shelter, returning to their desks once they can. “It’s a part of every single day life,” says Konovalov. “And with the ability to deal with work helps distract them from the hazards they face.” Builders, who’re largely in Kyiv and Liviv, usually work from bomb shelters.
Additionally they volunteer with the struggle effort. His CTO volunteers with military on weekends, for instance, serving to to weave protecting nets for trenches.
A Huge Pivot
In 2013, earlier than launching vidby, Konovalov began an organization known as Know-how Improves the World. That enterprise targeted on shoppers, with Droid Translator, a video name service providing computerized real-time voice-to-voice translation. In 2021, he determined to pivot in an enormous approach and goal companies, taking three months to develop a minimal viable product and one other three to launch formally. The platform makes use of AI to translate and dub movies. There’s additionally an choice to make use of actual folks to appropriate errors within the outcomes of the automated speech recognition operate.
Konovalov additionally regards his firm’s mission as having a bigger societal objective—serving to customers perceive content material in their very own language and “protect the linguistic variety of humankind,” he says.