Chingari realised quite early in the game that it did not wish to tread the beaten path, certainly not one where monetisation is concentrated in the hands of tech players and handful of creators with millions of followers
Short video app Chingari, which enables users to create and share songs and entertainment clips, lip sync, add voiceovers and other fun innovations, is “truly democratising the creator economy” by incentivising users through an in-app crypto token, says company co-founder Biswatma Nayak.
Chingari realised quite early in the game that it did not wish to tread the beaten path, certainly not one where monetisation is concentrated in the hands of tech players and handful of creators with millions of followers. “There was no way a user benefited or was 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 crypto token, Nayak said. Its unique ‘Gari mining programme’ incentivises users and creators by rewarding tokens for a range of in-app activities — creating, or even watching, liking, and commenting on the app. Amid volatility, Chingari is well placed to pursue plans for growth and international expansion, Nayak said. New features like virtual gifts (that is, redeeming Gari for digital gifts in-app) are on the anvil for improving user retention and stickiness, he added.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How is Chingari differentiating itself in a market cluttered with apps vying for users’ time and attention?
A: The Indian short video market witnessed too many players trying to fill the vacuum created by Chinese app ban. However, the content running on these platforms was being monetised by tech companies, not the actual creators. Moreover, there was no way a user benefited or was rewarded for spending time on these short video apps. We identified that the monetisation 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 has been Gari, the in-app crypto token. We took a significant step in empowering users and creators by launching the ‘Gari mining programme’ which incentivises users and creators by rewarding Gari tokens for doing in-app activities like creating, watching, liking, and commenting on the app. Chingari users and creators start earning Gari tokens right from day one and the earned native tokens can be traded on crypto exchanges that can eventually be converted into rupees. Chingari is truly democratising the creator economy.
Q: The pandemic-triggered lockdown and months that followed yielded massive growth for social media platforms and apps. How have customer engagement metrics changed with normalisation setting in?
A: The massive growth of social media apps in India during that phase can be attributed to the lockdowns and banning of the Chinese app. The immediate result was indeed impressive in terms of the number of users who jumped over to these platforms. We did witness a huge jump in app downloads immediately after the ban came into effect. However, it’s important to note that we’ve continued to make sustained gains on part of user acquisition solely on the basis of Chingari’s unique offerings including the Gari mining programme, which helps creators and users earn crypto while they use the app and video NFT (vNFT) marketplace among other.
Q: How are you faring on monthly key metrics?
A: The user metrics have been phenomenal. Since its launch in 2018, Chingari has had more than five million daily active users (DAU) and 40 million monthly active users (MAU). The app has been downloaded more than 170 million times across Play Store and is among the top 20 most downloaded apps worldwide on Google Play. Over 200 million videos are being watched on the app on daily basis. The app has more than 90 per cent of users who identify as speakers of vernacular languages. Moreover, Chingari’s in-app token Gari is the world’s biggest social token. 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 from launch. With this growth rate, we are expecting active wallet users to reach two million in the next three months. Gari token has become one of the top two projects on the Solana blockchain in terms of the number of holders.
Q: Even as customers get increasingly discerning, the macro-environment requires start ups to focus on profitability more than ever. How are business models reorienting to realities of 2022?
A: It is apparent that the funding scenario of startups is changing, which is a sign that a course correction is taking place, a process that is crucial to any business, let alone startups. This course correction is necessary in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the startup ecosystem. Amid the volatility, Chingari is well placed and positive instead, with a strong emphasis on growth, user retention and international expansion. Our focus also remains to build modern Web3 (next evolution of internet) tools and frameworks that will fuel overall Web3 space – one of which is the world’s first Video NFT marketplace creators cut. It allows creators to mint their videos and sell them in the marketplace. To remain competitive, we plan to invest more in technology to automate more processes and expand our collaborations with other projects. Virtual gifts like redeeming Gari for digital gifts in-app, and other new offerings are on anvil.
Q: As a platform what are the plans for monetising your large and growing user base by way of advertising, video-led commerce or other mechanisms?
A: Our existing revenue stream has been advertisements, NFT Badges and as we discussed above the launch of vNFT marketplace is also our important revenue source in the form platform fees. Our plan is to remove advertisements in the future, and we will have brands on the platform, but they will advertise through influencer campaigns like hashtag challenges. We intend to build an influencer marketing platform where businesses 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, scalable infrastructure at the back end, how did Amazon Web Services (AWS) help you on the tech front?
A: AWS and their team of solution architects, enterprise support executives and service specialist teams have been a critical partner for our success from early days. The benefits are on various fronts like performance, cost optimisation, 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 optimise download speed considering variety of devices and bandwidth limitations of end-users. Video compression is a complex process as we have to keep quality, bitrate, cost in check. Using Amazon Elemental MediaConvert – fully managed transcoding service, we optimize videos. We generate different output formats, bitrates to improve streaming performance. On top of that, we use Amazon CloudFront – Content Delivery Network (CDN) to cache content locally. By using CloudFront, we reduced latency to 10x from 600ms to 60ms.
We achieve cost optimisations through savings plans, Amazon EC2 Spot Instances and modern Graviton2 based instances. For our machine learning (ML) workloads, we use Amazon EC2 G5 instances (newly launched GPU-based instances), which improved our price to performance metric compared to older generation 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 up and running is a critical task for our engineering teams. We ensure availability by deploying container-based services on Amazon EKS across multiple availability zones and distribute traffic through Elastic Load Balancers.