Daily Court Reporter - News Closed captions, brought to you by a Gahanna company
Closed captions, brought to you by a Gahanna company
BRANDON KLEIN, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Nearly everyone with a television has heard the phrase "closed captions, brought to you by ..." Except, of course, for those who are in need of the service that displays readable text on TV and other video screens: The deaf and those with partial hearing loss.
"The rest of the world takes it for granted," said Adam Grover, the founder of CaptionLabs.
The Gahanna-based company is one of the few closed captioning companies in the Midwest market.
Grover started the company in 2005 as a spin-off of his production company, Media Images, when he needed closed captioning services.
But the only local company in central Ohio at the time was charging $500 per half hour for its services, which was too expensive for Grover's client.
So he obtained his own closed captioning equipment and stumbled upon a market where he had 20 customers in a matter of weeks, he said.
"We got into this business by accident and we continue to be surprise about the number of people that need the service," Grover said.
About 37.5 million U.S. adults have reported hearing problems, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
There can be misconceptions about closed captioning services, he added. People may think captioning services strictly involves someone typing on a keyboard or using digital assistant software such as Apple's Siri.
Grover said stenographers are used for live captioning, which his company doesn't do much in its line of work, while voice assistants are still not accurate in transcribing all the time.
Grover and his eight-person team at its Gahanna office, plus about 30 contractors who work from home, handle the transcribing services in post-production for a variety of content including training materials, sales presentations and religious programming.
The majority of CaptionLabs' customers are concentrated east of the Mississippi River with some concentrations in Texas and California, where Grover's competitors are mostly located. Other clients are based abroad including in the United Kingdom and parts of Africa.
"We have an advantage in the Midwest," Grover said. "There's the fact that we're much nicer (compared with our competitors in California)."
Grover said the company's growth has doubled several times in prior years. He declined to provide any revenue figures but said "it was certainly in the seven figures."
A central Ohio native, the CaptionLabs founder lived near Groverport while attending a private school in Canal Winchester.
Since he graduated from the school more than two decades ago, he completed a church internship before starting his own company. Grover now lives in Blacklick, not far from the CaptionLabs office.
CaptionLabs has worked on a variety of projects to expand its services. In 2012, the company developed StationDrop, a platform that delivers full-length TV programming electronically over the Internet to the station.
"Digital delivery raises your bottom line big time! StationDrop saves our clients money because they no longer need to pay for videotapes, tape recorders, staff time, or shipping," stated Ben Kalb, a broadcast engineer who created StationDrop. "We aim to provide the best service and the fastest turnaround in the industry and StationDrop helps us do just that."
The company is also expanding into visual description services for people who are visually-impaired, Grover said. The company has other projects in the pipeline, though Grover wouldn't disclose what those projects are.
Among its challenges, CaptionLabs often struggles to find employees with previous closed captioning skills in central Ohio. "Almost nearly impossible," Grover said. Ultimately, the company has to train its employees and contractors from scratch.
But Grover said his team is passionate about providing an essential service for a large community.
"It's socially responsible to closed caption your media," he said. That's why corporations and other companies provide funding for the service and are credited with the "brought-to-you-by" phrase.
"It's a great marketing opportunity," Grover said.
For CaptionLabs, the company works more behind the scenes, he said. The clients who request the service are normally the one's who do not need it, but Grover said he's been thrilled about the response.
"We're the invisible wizard in the background," he said.
Date Published: February 26, 2018