VOCHI, a Belarus-based startup behind a smart computer vision-based video editing app used by online creators, raised an additional $ 2.4 million in ‘late-night funding round Which follows the initial $ 1.5 million round of the company led by Ukraine-based Genesis. Investments 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 has achieved an annual execution rate of over $ 4 million in one year.
Investors in the most recent cycle include TA Ventures, Angelsdeck, A.Partners, Startup Wise Guys, Kolos VC, and angel investors from other Belarusian companies like Verv and Bolt. Along with fundraising, VOCHI is raising the company’s first employee, Anna Bulgakova, who started as a marketing manager, to the position of co-founder and product manager.
According to VOCHI Co-Founder and CEO Lya Lesun, the idea for the company was to provide users with an easy way to create professional edits that could help them produce unique and trending content for social media that could help them stand out and become more popular. To do this, VOCHI relies on 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 perform segmentation of video objects and segmentation of semi-supervised instances, ”explains Lesun, from VOCHI technology. “Our team has also developed a custom rendering engine for video effects that enables instant 4K application on mobile devices. And it works perfectly without loss of quality, ”he adds. It also works quite quickly – the effects are applied in just a few seconds.
The company used the initial funding to invest in marketing and product development, expanding its catalog to over 80 unique effects and over 30 filters.
Today, the app offers a number of tools that allow you to give a video a special aesthetic (like a dreamy vibe, artistic feel, or an 8-bit look, for example). It can also highlight the moving content with light lines, add blurs or motions, apply different filters, insert 3D objects into the video, add glitter or sparkles, and much more.
In addition to directly editing their content, users can browse a vertical home feed in the app where they can see video edits others have applied to their own content for inspiration. When they see something they like, they can then press a button to use the same effect on their own video. The final results can then be shared on other platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Although they are based in Belarus, most of the VOCHI users are young American adults. Others come from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and parts of Europe, Lesun says.
Unlike some of its video editor rivals, VOCHI offers a robust free experience where around 60% of effects and filters are available without paying, along with other basic editing tools and content. More advanced features, such as effect settings, unique gifts, and various special effects require a subscription. This subscription, however, doesn’t come cheap – it costs $ 7.99 per week or $ 39.99 for 12 weeks. This apparently targets professional content creators more than casual users just looking to have fun with their videos every now and then. (A one-time purchase of $ 150 is also available, if you prefer.)
To date, around 20,000 of VOCHI’s 500,000 monthly active users have committed to a paid subscription, and that number is growing at a rate of 20% month-over-month, according to the company.
The numbers VOCHI provides, however, aren’t as big as what the startup went through to get there.
The company developed its activities at a time when a dictatorial regime was suppressing the opposition, leading to arrests and violence in the country. Last year, employees of the American start-up PandaDoc were arrested in Minsk by Belarusian police, in an act of state-led retaliation for their protests against President Alexander Lukashenko. In April, Imaguru, the country’s leading startup center, event and coworking space in Minsk – and the birthplace of a number of startups, including MSQRD, which was acquired by Facebook – was also shut down by the regime. by Lukashenko.
Meanwhile, VOCHI has been touted as the App of the Day in the App Store in 126 countries around the world and has increased its revenue to around $ 300,000 per month.
“Personal videos are becoming more and more important in our lives and have become for many a means of self-expression. VOCHI helps to follow the path of inspiration, education and provides tools of creativity through video, ”said Andrei Avsievich, General Partner of Bulba Ventures, where VOCHI was incubated. “I’m glad users and investors love VOCHI, which is reflected in both revenue and the oversubscribed round. “
The additional funds will put VOCHI on the path to a Series A as it continues to work to attract more creators, improve user engagement and add more tools to the app, Lesun said.