VOCHI raises a further $ 2.four million for its computerized video enhancing app – TechCrunch
VOCHI, a Belarus-based startup behind a clever computer vision-based video editing app used by online creators, has raised an additional $ 2.4 million in a late-seed round, which on the first round of the company over $ 1.5 million under the leadership of the Ukrainian Genesis investment last year. The new funds follow a period of significant growth for the mobile tool, which is now used by over 500,000 people per month and which has an annual maturity of over $ 4 million in one year.
Recent round investors include TA Ventures, Angelsdeck, A.Partners, Startup Wise Guys, Kolos VC and Engel from other Belarusian companies such as Verv and Bolt. With the donation campaign, VOCHI is raising the company’s first employee, Anna Bulgakova, who initially started out as marketing manager, to co-founder and chief product officer.
According to Lya Lesun, co-founder and CEO of VOCHI, the idea of the company was to provide an easy way for people to create professional edits that could help them produce unique and trending social media content that could help them self take off and become more popular. To do this, VOCHI uses a proprietary computer vision-based video segmentation algorithm that applies various effects to specific moving objects in a video or to images in static photos.
“To achieve this result, there are two trained [convolutional neural networks] to carry out semi-monitored video object segmentation and instance segmentation, ”explains Lesun from VOCHI-Technologie. “Our team also developed a custom video effects rendering engine that enables instant application in 4K on mobile devices. And it works flawlessly without any loss of quality, ”he adds. It works pretty quickly too – effects are applied in seconds.
The company used the initial start-up funding to invest in marketing and product development, and to expand its catalog to over 80 unique effects and 30+ filters.
Today the app offers a number of tools that you can use to give a video a special aesthetic (e.g. a dreamy feel, an artistic feel, or an 8-bit look). It can also highlight moving content with glowing lines, add blur or movement, apply various filters, insert 3D objects into the video, add glitter or sparkles, and much more.
In addition to editing their content directly, users can also swipe through a vertical home feed in the app where they can view the video edits others have done on their own content for inspiration. When they see something they like, they can tap a button to use the same effect on their own video. The finished results can then be shared on other platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
Although based in Belarus, most of VOCHI’s users are young adults from the United States. Others come from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and parts of Europe, says Lesun.
Unlike some of its video editor competitors, VOCHI offers a robust free experience with around 60% of the effects and filters available for free along with other basic editing tools and content. A subscription is required for advanced features such as effect settings, unique gifts, and various special effects. This subscription isn’t cheap, however – it costs either $ 7.99 per week or $ 39.99 for 12 weeks. This is apparently aimed more at professional content creators than a casual user who just wants to have fun with their videos from time to time. (A one-time purchase of $ 150 is also possible if you prefer.)
To date, around 20,000 of VOCHI’s 500,000 monthly active users have signed up for a paid subscription, and that number is growing by 20% month-to-month, according to the company.
However, the numbers VOCHI has provided are not as important as what the startup went through on the way there.
The company expanded its business at a time when a dictatorial regime is cracking down on the opposition, resulting in arrests and violence in the country. Last year, employees of the US company startup PandaDoc in Minsk were arrested by the Belarusian police as a state-led act of retaliation for their protests against President Alexander Lukashenko. In April, Imaguru, the country’s main startup hub, event and co-working space in Minsk – and the birthplace of a number of startups, including MSQRD, which was taken over by Facebook – was shut down by the Lukashenko regime.
Meanwhile, VOCHI was presented as App of the Day in the App Store in 126 countries worldwide and increased sales to around 300,000 US dollars per month.
“Personal videos occupy an increasingly important place in our lives and have become a method of self-expression for many. VOCHI helps to follow the path of inspiration and education and provides tools for creativity through video ”, said Andrei Avsievich, General Partner at Bulba Ventures, where VOCHI was incubated. “I am pleased that users and investors love VOCHI, which is reflected in both sales and the oversubscription round.”
The additional funding will put VOCHI on its way to a Series A as it continues to work to attract more creators, improve user engagement, and add more tools to the app, says Lesun.