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 that follows the company. $ 1.5 million initial round led by Ukraine-based Genesis Investments last year. The new funding follows a period of significant growth for the mobile tool, which is now used by more than 500,000 people per month and has achieved an annual execution rate of more than $ 4 million in one year.
Investors in the most recent round include TA Ventures, Angelsdeck, A.Partners, Startup Wise Guys, Kolos VC, and angels from companies like Belarus-based Verv and the Estonian unicorn Bolt. Along with the fundraising, VOCHI is elevating the company’s first employee, Anna Buglakova, who started out as head of marketing, to the position of co-founder and chief product officer.
According to VOCHI co-founder and CEO Ilya Lesun, the company’s idea was to provide an easy way for people to create professional edits that could help them produce unique and modern content for social media that could help them stand out and become more popular. . To do so, VOCHI leverages a proprietary computer vision-based video segmentation algorithm that applies various effects to specific moving objects in video or images in still photos.
“To obtain this result, there are two [convolutional neural networks] to perform instance segmentation and semi-supervised video object segmentation, ”explains Lesun from VOCHI technology. “Our team 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 works pretty fast too – effects are applied in just seconds.
The company used the seed funding to invest in marketing and product development, expanding its catalog to more than 80 unique effects and more than 30 filters.
Today, the application offers a number of tools that allow you to give a video a particular aesthetic (such as a dreamlike environment, an artistic feel, or an 8-bit look, for example). You can also highlight moving content with bright lines, add blurs or motion, apply different filters, insert 3D objects into the video, add brightness or sparkle, and much more.
In addition to editing their content directly, users can swipe through a vertical in-app home feed where they can view video edits that others have applied to 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 final results can be shared with other platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Although they reside in Belarus, the majority of VOCHI 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 editing rivals, VOCHI offers a robust free experience where around 60% of the effects and filters are available free of charge, along with other basic editing and content tools. More advanced features, such as effect settings, unique gifts, and various special effects, require a subscription. However, this subscription is not cheap: it costs $ 7.99 per week or $ 39.99 for 12 weeks. This apparently targets the subscription more to professional content creators than to a casual user who is only looking to have fun with their videos once in a while. (A one-time purchase of $ 150 is also available, if you prefer.)
To date, about 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, the company says.
However, the numbers that VOCHI has delivered are not as important as what the startup has gone through to get there.
The company has been growing its business at a time when a dictatorial regime has been cracking down on the opposition, leading to arrests and violence in the country. Last year, employees of a new US-based company. PandaDoc were arrested in Minsk by the Belarusian police, in an act of state retaliation for their protests against President Alexander Lukashenko. In April, Imaguru, the country’s main startup hub, space for events and coworking in Minsk, and birthplace of several startups, including MSQRD, which was acquired by Facebook – was also closed by the Lukashenko regime.
Meanwhile, VOCHI was featured as the app of the day on the App Store in 126 countries around the world, and its revenue increased to around $ 300,000 per month.
“Personal videos occupy an increasingly important place in our lives and for many they have become a method of self-expression. VOCHI helps follow the path of inspiration, education and provides tools for creativity through video, ”said Andrei Avsievich, general partner at Bulba Ventures, where VOCHI was incubated. “I am happy that users and investors love VOCHI, which is reflected in both the revenue and the round of excessive subscriptions.”
The additional funding 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, says Lesun.