Ajay Prasad is founder and president of California-based GMR Transcription Services, Inc. (GMRT), as well as the digital marketing consulting firm, GMR Web Team (GMRWT), which has been helping small and medium size businesses maximize outcomes since 1996.
A successful entrepreneur and business strategist with nearly three decades of experience, Ajay founded GMRT in 2004 to fill a void in affordable and accurate transcription and translation services for writers, students, professors and businesses.
Throughout an esteemed career, Ajay has held numerous senior executive positions within Fortune 10 companies and entrepreneurial startups and has authored several books and eBooks, including Local Search Marketing Secrets Unveiled, to help small businesses navigate web strategy. He is also co-author of Plant Your Online Biz Money Tree, which guides entrepreneurs on the road to starting a web-based business.
BusinessInterviews.com: As a serial entrepreneur, what inspired your decision to focus on the transcription market?
Ajay: Shortly after I left the corporate world I became a marketing consultant, which often required long strategy sessions with clients. Because one meeting, in particular, was expected to last quite a while, I decided to record the session. After 7 long hours, however, I realized the only way I would be able to digest the vast amount of information was to have the audio transcribed.
To my surprise, all the transcription companies gave me outrageous quotes ranging from $4000-$11,000 or a ‘per line’ rate—the prevalent pricing model for the transcription industry at that time which made it impossible to predict the cost of a project until it was completed.
Out of frustration, I ended up transcribing the entire 7-hour audio on my own, while contemplating the notion that there must be thousands of individuals just like me who are looking for a transcription company with a transparent pricing model. After researching options, it was clear there was a void in the transcription market. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I dove in and founded GMR Transcription Services in order to provide the market with the exact service and pricing model I found myself searching for but unable to find.
BusinessInterviews.com: As one of the first companies to enter the online transcription and translation market what’s an important lesson that you learned early on?
Ajay: I’ve made many mistakes, as most entrepreneurs do, especially when they’re still trying to figure out how to navigate the market with a new product or service. Before I implemented a process to recruit the most experienced transcribers, the quality of our services was not up to my desired standards. Every time I had an angry customer call and complain, I would not only provide a 100 percent refund to make them happy but also offer to have the transcripts redone. I realized early on that to stay in business I needed a fail-proof strategy to help me meet my guarantee of 98% accuracy.
As one of the first to enter the online transcription and translation market, I have learned firsthand the significant advantages of remaining U.S. based with a stateside team of professional and dedicated human transcriptionists. Over the years, we have weathered the storms of economic downturns, experiments in outsourcing and challenges in the ever-changing world of advancing technology. Building a solid foundation of trust requires not only providing one of the most secure, online digital platforms for transferring critical documents but also the highest quality transcription and translation services that enable individuals and businesses to participate and compete in an increasingly global market. In the long run, as the transcription and translation industry grows exponentially to meet the demands of an expanding and interconnected economy, accuracy and security must go hand in hand with great customer service and a price that ultimately reflects the best value for the customer.
BusinessInterviews.com: How has the transcription industry evolved since launching in 2004?
Ajay: When GMRT entered the transcription industry back in 2004, technology for transcription was limited mostly to humans. In the short span of a decade, however, we’ve witnessed the arrival of machines that have the capacity to do everything from print a prosthetic arm to remotely monitor a fleet of computers. Many industries, including ours, tend to view machines either as a great benefit or a threat to doing business. I won’t go as far as saying there are no good machine-based products on the market, but even the best have severe limitations, if for no other reason than because of the way people speak. Heavy accents, emphasis on syllables—these can be very difficult for a machine to distinguish and interpret, but give it to a trained transcriptionist and the chances of 100 percent accuracy increase exponentially.
Machines perform adequately on a rudimentary level but lack accuracy when interpreting and translating complex projects due—again mainly to different dialect and colloquialisms that only native or highly skilled bilingual experts can properly translate or transcribe. In addition, machines are unable to filter through multiple layers, background voices and ambient noise. Take Google Translate for a rigorous test drive and you’ll realize machines have a long way to go before they become a significant threat to replacing humans.
Offshoring has also evolved in the transcription industry since 2004, particularly for companies who want to quickly gain a competitive edge by saving on costs to increase revenue. But when the transcriptionists lack expertise, skill and native language fluency—which offshore transcriptionists often do—the profit margins of those companies quickly begin to diminish—along with their customer satisfaction.
Organizations and businesses rely on safe and accurate—verbatim—translation. In the long run, quality, accuracy, security, and a trusted human partner—not price alone—will drive decision makers. There is too much at stake. Longevity is the key to success and eventually the best in class rises to the top.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the screening and training of your transcriptionists and how this process ensures quality control and ultimately your success as a company?
Ajay: Our highly trained and experienced transcriptionists pass a rigorous test before joining our company and pass all levels of ensuring security and confidentiality in document transcription. In addition, we use highly educated men and women who have mastered their native languages and have a keen sense for accents, colloquialisms and expressions. GMRT transcriptionists and translators have received specialized training in specific fields and/or certification from top organizations, including the American Translation Association (ATA) – corporate member and certified translators in all languages; American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) – Certified Electronic Reporter (CER), Certified Electronic Reporter and Transcriber (CERT), and Digital Audio Recording certification (CERT*D); National Court Reporter’s Association – Registered Court Reporter certification; Transcription Certification Institute (TCI); Time Stamps and Time Syncing; Closed Captioning, Verbatim Transcription and Multiple Language Fluency and Translation; and Advanced Computer Software and Equipment Fluency.
It’s an exhaustive list and one in which we take great pride. As a result, our clients benefit by knowing they have a trusted, experienced and knowledgeable human partner to assist with mission critical business solutions.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are your top tips for a small business about to launch their first web-based company?
Here are my top 7 tips for a small business ready to launch a web-based company—and succeed:
Patience and tenacity are a real virtue in these changing times. Many entrepreneurs lose steam after they have mastered the art of the start. But succeeding is about enduring—and then moving beyond enduring and into thriving. Listening more than talking will take you a long way and so will happy customers. So listen to what your customers have to say!
BusinessInterviews.com: How has your definition of success changed over the course of your career?
Ajay: To me, success is keeping customers happy while still being profitable. Throughout my career, this has not changed. As mentioned before, I learned early on that it is critical to provide a great customer service while standing by your promises and guarantees. This is what helped me retain customers that were not always happy with my service while I worked to develop a process to improve it.
From voice transcription to language translation, GMRT’s commitment to excellence can be measured by the satisfaction of clients like Accenture, Amazon, Stanford University and the National Endowment of the Arts. With industry competitors’ prolific practice of offshoring services and utilizing machines to save costs and increase revenue, our clients quickly realize the invaluable benefits of working with GMRT, where every document remains securely within the U.S. in the most competent human hands.
Over the years, my definition of success has been tested, to be sure, but never discarded. I believe in providing value at a price people can afford. When everyone is happy, everyone wins.
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