In Focus: Jade Kurian

Jade Kurian is the Co-founder and President of Texas-based file transfer company, latakoo.  We caught up with her for our In Focus series, which highlights the work of inspirational women from across the sector.

Hi Jade, great to catch up! Could you tell us more about your role

I am the Co-founder & President of latakoo. This has always meant that I will do everything that is required to make our company work and help our company grow. We have an incredible team of dedicated experts, but I am involved in development, sales, recruiting, finance, customer success, marketing, training and investor relations. This means I am a jack of all trades and a master of a few. I’ve logged into servers, I’ve taken meetings with leadership of some the world’s largest broadcast companies, I’ve taken support calls while going through the customs line at the airport and I’ve also cleaned a bathroom after a job applicant became very sick. 

My co-founder is our CEO and we try to split duties. He’s more focused on sales and investment and I’m more focused on operations and development. We all have a “this is all my job” mentality and we try to nurture an environment where every latakoo team member is equally comfortable running the meeting or taking out the trash.

What does a day in your working life look like and has this changed dramatically as a result of Covid-19?

Our office in Austin overlooks a beautiful lake and trail and I incorporate that into my day with a run on the trail. The run may be early morning or evening, depending on my schedule. This is what I call my active meditation time. The city did close the trail for a few weeks due to Covid-19. It was necessary, but a bit maddening for me to stay inside. I work better and faster when I get my trail time. I generally start early with a run, work 6 hours and take a break for a workout, then come back and usually work another 4 hours before I stop for dinner. I check my email again and do all my catch-up reading in the evenings. Our CEO and I both use treadmill desks and average about six miles per day and on some days, about eight meetings per day. I try to keep meetings short and with small groups. My assistant works hard to give me an hour to focus on projects. I’m rarely without my phone because there are just too many people who rely on us. 

Covid-19 did have a big impact on us. We are seeing tremendous growth in usage, demand for our product and traffic on our systems. Our cloud-based platform, used by journalists around the world for video transfer and collaboration, is the go-to solution for news crews now working from home. We also had to send our staff home, but since we already had quite a few remote workers, the adjustment was not intense. We just have a few people back at the office now. We do miss the face-to-face interactions.

How did you begin your career and what inspired you to look at jobs within the broadcast technology sector?

As a child in India, my grandfather and I read the newspaper together. I would read every page, every word, wanting to know more about each story. Growing up in the U.S., my Dad and I continued that tradition. No matter what we had going, we always took a break to watch the evening news and our favorite broadcasters, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather. And, while I originally wanted to go to film school, I felt the tug of journalism. 

During college, I managed to get a job at a newspaper. It wasn’t the reporting job I wanted, but it was a foot in the door and I was ecstatic to take it. I was an obituary writer for the newspaper. But that job cemented my interest in journalism, introduced me to a mentor and gave me a certain insight into humanity that has served me for a lifetime.  Here I was as a college student, writing what likely would be the final public statement on a person’s life. It was both daunting and precious, a learning experience like no other. It made me a better reporter as I moved on in my career. I worked in small and big cities in the United States as a reporter and eventually moved on to a national network. 

While I was as a bureau chief for HD News, the world’s first full 24-hour HD news network, I realized that high quality video was not easy to transfer and collaborate with and I hoped that someone would build a solution. I didn’t think it would be me, but my co-founder and I eventually decided there just wasn’t a great solution out there for journalists and we needed to do it. We founded latakoo in 2010 and we now serve some of the biggest names in broadcast news.

How do you think the industry will change as a result of Covid-19?

The industry has been forced to change on the fly. While disaster response and recovery has always been part of strategic planning for news companies, now it is the constant reality of their existence. And ours, frankly. The pandemic forced broadcasters and production companies to finally, fully embrace the cloud.  Whereas in the past, broadcasters invested millions in highly proprietary on-premise solutions that were purchased outright, broadcasters will now invest much more heavily in Software-as-a-Service cloud solutions that continuously offer their customers their best technology and don’t hold back on improvements in hopes of selling another perpetual license in the future.

When one of our biggest customers sent their editors home, their usage of latakoo overall increased by 300%.  They’ve told us that will be the new norm going forward because those editors are not coming back to the studio.

What are you main challenges over the coming year?

Times of great adversity lead to great innovation. We see so many opportunities in our sector. We are a pandemic proof solution for the broadcast and production industries, but we want to add further layers in our platform, additional services that offer even more efficiencies. Our challenge is to narrow it down, anticipating the next big needs of the industry and delivering those solutions in a timely way. We have already built new processes, requested during the pandemic. Even when companies know they need something, it can still take time to close the deal with larger enterprises. We need to make sure the new systems we are designing and building are so useful that it’s a “no brainer” to say yes.

Thanks to Jade for sharing more about her experiences.