In 2014, I joined Speechmatics as an intern in Cambridge which was set to last just a couple of months. Back then I was doing my PhD on Recurrent Neural Network Language Modeling (RNNLMs), focusing on their GPU acceleration, something that Speechmatics had already done themselves. My internship turned out really well and my expertise was a great match with the company. I soon became a full-time employee of Speechmatics.
In the next year, I worked on various projects, such as an Android app, custom implementation of a decoder and internal tooling for neural network training. It was quite challenging but exploring new problems and new technologies is something that I enjoy and is something I get to experience regularly while working at Speechmatics.
After a year and a half in the UK, it was finally time for me to go back to the Czech Republic. Speechmatics gave me the opportunity to continue working with them remotely, which comes with its own pros and cons. Initially, I worked from a shared office in the University that I did my PhD from (which I never finished!). As the company grew, so too did the number of meetings and day-to-day calls. The shared office environment didn’t suit me anymore, so I started working from home. That was great and lasted for more than three years.
During those three years, there was talk of opening up a Speechmatics office in Brno. Meanwhile, the company grew from 8 employees to well over 80, received several rounds of funding, and now plans to grow even more. Over the last couple of years, Speechmatics has become more professional in its approach and moved from a small office space filled with various workstations with many GPUs to a much larger two-story office building. We also moved to our own externally hosted small server-grade computational cluster. Now, we’re looking to grow even more and expanding into the Czech Republic for its talent pool seemed only natural.
Now, we’re executing on our plans of global expansion. We recently opened a new office in Brno, which is very exciting for me. I no longer have to work at home, with the challenges that come from having to communicate with the rest of the team solely over the internet (except for the occasional visit to Cambridge). I not only have a team here to work with, but also to spend time with at lunch and to chat with about non-work-related topics. It really brings back the experience for me of the early days at Speechmatics when there were just a few of us hanging out, not just as colleagues but as friends. I am hoping the Brno office will manage to preserve this spirit and so far, it really feels that way! I’m excited to build something great here. I am fortunate enough to get the opportunity to be involved in the recruitment process, the office environment and also the technological approaches we use, which is something I enjoy doing.
There are currently three of us in the office and we are looking to hire at least three more to have a self-sufficient team. We’ll be working on implementing and delivering new product features, while also improving the accuracy of our speech engine by applying speech recognition research into our product and into our tooling for training existing and new language packs. I am confident that the Czech team will be a valuable resource for Speechmatics. I am delighted that I can be part of something like this as it is another new and great experience for me at Speechmatics.
Fanouš Skála, Speechmatics
Read more about our Czech office expansion which has been covered in the media [CZ].