Akiva Aranoff

Co-Founder of Maestra

Akiva Aranoff is the cofounder of Maestra, an online transcription, captioning, and voiceover platform that allows users to automatically edit their videos in more ways, and enabling content creators to reach viewers all over the world. He co-founded Maestra along with three friends right out of college, and along with his co founders, works full time on enabling content creators to reach a global audience through Maestra.

For the past two years the maestra team has been focused on constantly innovating and providing users with new abilities to share their content, through embedding automatically voiced over videos on their websites, to being able to share transcripts online through public links, and directly through email.

Where did the idea for Maestra come from?

Maestra started out as a hackathon project in college after one of our co-founders was trying to listen to a video in a language he couldn’t understand. He was too tired to read the subtitles, so he thought to himself, “what if I was able to automatically voiceover the video to foreign languages?” and that’s where Maestra was born! We then turned Maestra from a simple voiceover tool, to a platform that allows content creators to automatically: transcribe, caption, and voiceover their files into foreign languages.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Our typical day consists of coding new features into the software, and spending time on reaching out to customers to hear their feedback and thoughts on how we can improve our product. It’s always important to understand that there’s room for improvement, and the best feedback we can get is from our customers!

How do you bring ideas to life?

We spend a lot of time sketching out and discussing the possible options to work on next. It’s important for us to always ask for feedback which can help give us an even better idea of what we should be working on.

What’s one trend that excites you?

We’re excited by the growth in the speech synthesis industry. With the new advances in technology, it’s now possible for content creators to share their ideas in new ways and in new formats. This can open up a new realm of possibilities in fields such as education and entertainment.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Getting up early each morning is a habit that has helped me be more productive as an entrepreneur. Since you’re working on your own schedule, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of being unproductive. Starting the morning on the right foot can impact the whole day, and is one of the most important habits an entrepreneur can do, in my opinion.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’d tell myself to focus more on listening to the customers and understanding their pain points. When starting a company it’s easy to think that you know what’s best for the company, but it’s always important to hear other people’s ideas and learn about what they really need.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Just because a company is “successful” doesn’t mean it’s a strong company. Companies can do well for a variety of reasons, and can get extremely lucky. It’s important to focus on yourself, and not to worry about how others are doing.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I’d recommend asking for feedback from customers as much as possible. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very easy to get caught up in thinking that what you’re doing is always right, but having multiple viewpoints is always crucial.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Running ads has been something that has helped us get an initial following. Creating online content through blogs has also helped people discover our services.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Being able to set your own schedule is an important aspect of starting a company that I would consider a “failure” in the beginning. Getting up early and setting a proper schedule has helped with productivity and getting important things done.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An app that rates restaurants not just on quality of food, but on sustainability as well.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a weekly planner notebook that has been helpful for writing down my schedule. Writing in pen and paper has helped me better understand my schedule and helped me visualize my plan for the week!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Stripe and Mixpanel are two software’s that have been very helpful to our business. We use Stripe to easily process payments, and Mixpanel is great helping us find ways to make our software better.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The book Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou is a cautionary tale about how startups can lose focus on their original mission. It’s important to always act ethically and focus on doing what’s right.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is a line from a Rudyard Kipling poem: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” It helps me realize that both failure and success are “imposters” and that the important thing is to work hard no matter what.

Key Learnings:

  • Always asking for feedback
  • Discussing what can be made better everyday
  • Working hard and believing in yourself