New Delhi: Short video app Chingari, which allows users to create and share songs and entertainment clips, lip sync, add voiceovers and other fun innovations, “truly democratizes the creator economy” by incentivizing users via an embedded crypto token, says company co-founder Biswatma Nayak.
Chingari realized quite early in the game that he didn’t want to tread the beaten path, certainly not one where monetization is concentrated in the hands of tech players and a handful of creators with millions of followers. . “There was no way for a user to benefit or be rewarded for spending time on these short video apps,” Nayak, who is also the company’s chief technology officer, told PTI.
The company decided to change all that with the introduction of Gari, an in-app encryption token, Nayak said. Its unique “Gari Mining Program” incentivizes users and creators by rewarding tokens for a range of in-app activities: creating, even watching, liking and commenting on the app.
Amid volatility, Chingari is well positioned to continue its plans for growth and international expansion, Nayak said. New features such as virtual gifts (i.e. exchanging Gari for in-app digital gifts) are on the anvil to improve user retention and stickiness, a-t -he adds.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How does Chingari stand out in a crowded marketplace of apps vying for users’ time and attention?
A: The Indian short video market has seen too many players trying to fill the void created by the Chinese app ban. However, the content released on these platforms was monetized by tech companies, not the creators themselves. Also, there was no way for a user to benefit or be rewarded for spending time on these short video apps. We have identified that the monetization part is concentrated only in the hands of these companies and a few creators with millions of followers.
The main differentiator we introduced on the Chingari app was Gari, the in-app encryption token. We have taken an important step in empowering users and creators by launching the “Gari Mining Program” which incentivizes users and creators by rewarding Gari tokens for in-app activities such as creating, watching, like and comment on the app. Chingari users and creators start earning Gari tokens from day one and earned native tokens can be traded on crypto exchanges which can optionally be converted into rupees.
Chingari truly democratizes the creator economy.
Q: The pandemic-triggered lockdown and the months that followed led to massive growth in social media platforms and apps. How have customer engagement metrics changed with the normalization setting?
A: The massive growth of social media apps in India during this phase can be attributed to the blockages and banning of the Chinese app. The immediate result was indeed impressive in terms of the number of users who jumped on these platforms. We witnessed a huge increase in app downloads immediately after the ban came into force.
However, it’s important to note that we continued to make sustained gains on a portion of user acquisition solely based on Chingari’s unique offerings, including the Gari mining program, which helps creators and users to earn crypto while using app and video NFT (vNFT) among others.
Q: How are you doing on the monthly key indicators?
A: User measurements have been phenomenal. Since its launch in 2018, Chingari has over five million daily active users (DAUs) and 40 million monthly active users (MAUs). The app has been downloaded over 170 million times on Play Store and is among the top 20 most downloaded apps in the world on Google Play. More than 200 million videos are viewed daily on the app. The app has over 90% of users who identify as vernacular speakers.
Additionally, Chingari’s in-app token, Gari, is the largest social token in the world. The Gari token has also received a great response from the community with almost 1.5 million holders in a record time of just eight months since its launch. With this growth rate, we expect active wallet users to reach two million within the next three months. The Gari token has become one of the top two Solana blockchain projects in terms of the number of holders.
Q: Even as customers become more and more demanding, the macro environment forces start-ups to focus more than ever on profitability. How are business models reorienting to the realities of 2022?
A: It is obvious that the startup funding scenario is changing, which is a sign that a change of course is underway, a crucial process for any business, let alone startups.
This course correction is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the startup ecosystem. Amid the volatility, Chingari is quite well positioned and positive, with a strong focus on growth, user retention, and international expansion.
Our focus also remains on building modern Web3 (the next evolution of the Internet) tools and frameworks that will power the entire Web3 space – one of which is the world’s first NFT video market maker to be cut.
It allows creators to create their videos and sell them in the marketplace. To stay competitive, we plan to invest more in technology to automate more processes and expand our collaborations with other projects. Virtual gifts like exchanging Gari for in-app digital gifts and other new offers are on the anvil.
Q: As a platform, what are the plans to monetize your large and growing user base through advertising, video commerce, or other mechanisms?
A: Our existing source of revenue has been ads and NFT badges and as we mentioned above the vNFT market launch is also our major source of revenue in the form of platform fees. Our plan is to remove ads in the future, and we will have brands on the platform, but they will advertise through influencer campaigns like hashtag challenges.
We intend to create an influencer marketing platform where companies can come and employ influencers to work on campaigns on Chingari. Gari tokens will be used as in-app currency. Brands will be required to purchase Gari tokens and compensate influencers in the native token.
Q: Given the need for a robust and scalable backend infrastructure, how has Amazon Web Services (AWS) helped you technically?
A: AWS and its team of solution architects, business support executives, and service specialist teams have been a critical partner to our success from the start. The benefits lie on several fronts, such as performance, cost optimization and improved availability.
At Chingari, user experience is a key priority. Our users upload thousands of short videos every day. We need to compress video to optimize download speed considering a variety of devices and bandwidth limitations of end users. Video compression is a complex process as we need to control the quality, bitrate and cost. Using Amazon Elemental MediaConvert – a fully managed transcoding service, we optimize videos. We generate different output formats and bitrates to improve streaming performance. Additionally, we use Amazon CloudFront – Content Delivery Network (CDN) to cache content locally. Using CloudFront, we reduced latency by 10x, from 600ms to 60ms.
We realize cost optimizations through savings plans, Amazon EC2 Spot Instances and modern instances based on Graviton2. For our machine learning (ML) workloads, we use Amazon EC2 G5 instances (recently released GPU-based instances), which has improved our price/performance ratio compared to legacy GPU instances. On the other hand, Chingari stores and processes hundreds of thousands of videos, and we end up storing terabytes of data on Amazon S3.
With critical workloads like Gari, keeping systems operational is a critical task for our engineering teams. We ensure availability by deploying container-based services on Amazon EKS across multiple Availability Zones and distributing traffic through elastic load balancers.
(This story was produced by PTI in conjunction with Amazon Web Services).