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Holly Stephens is the Co-Founder & CEO of Subly, a Founder Institute London portfolio company whose platform makes subtitling and translation instantaneous for content creators and digital marketers of all stripes, especially those working across multiple social or video platforms. 

This week, Subly released their much-anticipated Pro subscription level, allowing users to now add customized branding to their videos via logos and headlines, as well as access new tools for resizing videos to share across multiple social media channels, with an expansion of up to 100 minutes of subtitling per month (versus 40 minutes on the free product tier), and much more. 

CEO Holly Stephens recently joined Founder Institute for an on-camera conversation about everything going on at Subly, from the launch of the new Pro subscription level, to the subtitling startup’s tremendous traction and growth since its initial launch in February 2020. 

As CEO Holly Stephens explains in the interview above, subtitling is critical for fostering audience engagement with video content. For example, Stephens explains that 63% of videos on LinkedIn are watched without sound, and that number is 80% on Facebook—this makes it crystal clear how necessary subtitling is, to grab the attention of people who are scrolling through their social media feeds, to see and read those subtitles within the first few seconds of glancing at a video, and then decide whether or not to engage with that content. Without subtitles to help them form the basis of that split-second decision of whether or not to engage, the viewer is far likelier to just scroll right past a video and onto something else in the bottomless social feed.

Adding subtitles has been shown to increase engagement by 80%. Subtitles also adds value in the form of content accessibility, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. But subtitling is also helpful for other reasons, among them simply for video watchers who speak English as a second language (*or any of Subly’s other 30 different supported languages), because subtitles can add a lot clarity to people speaking in videos who may otherwise be unclear, whether just from talking quickly at points or speaking a language with an unfamiliar accent that may make them harder to understand for someone just learning that language.

Growing from 0 to 15k Users 

The real proof of Subly’s utility and value is written in the company’s impressive user growth. In just 7 months since their launch of the free product tier in February 2020, Subly has grown to over 15,000 users.  They’ve also recently inked a deal to work with LinkedIn, and added 31 different languages to their catalogue. And translation is another of the platform’s key built-in features, since the ability to translate subtitles into other languages means that a video recorded in English can now be exported instantly in any of the other 30 supported languages, increasing a digital marketer’s reach to billions more potential video viewers around the world.

Subly isn’t just for digital marketers—as CEO Holly Stephens explains, the onset of COVID-19 has seen digital video content taking over everything—from what used to be the smaller-scale online course creators, to now video course content for universities and K-12 schools. Other user cases include both internal and external corporate communications teams, as well as marketing managers, social media strategists, and virtually any other type of content creator.

Subly can also save its users serious money. For example, a typical going rate for a freelancer to provide manual video subtitling would be ~$50 per 10 minutes of video content—compare that with Subly’s new Pro-level subscription plan at 10/month for 100 minutes of content. And if the manual subtitling was done in-house instead by a company, there would likely need to be a team of people working to produce the content—first, there is the transcriber, who listens the the audio and types it out into text; then likely a marketing manager or someone reviews the written content, and then someone else likely with the digital video-editing skills to actually add the subtitles back onto the video content. Subly does all of this automatically, and far cheaper than a freelancer or internal team working to produce the same subtitling output.

To fuel Subly’s lightening growth, the startup raised  €210k pre-seed in Q2 of this year, and is now seeking to raise a 750k seed round next. To learn more and try out the free tier or subscribe to Subly Pro, visit https://www.GetSubly.com


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Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $950M in funding, and building products people love across over 200 cities worldwide.

See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/journey

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