The Covid-19 pandemic encouraged people around the world to embrace video conferencing, both at work and in their personal lives. And while the crisis is waning in some parts of the world, the demand for live video online is not disappearing – Zoom, for example, has seen usage continue to increase through 2021.
It is a phenomenon that the live video infrastructure platform 100ms believes is well placed to take advantage of. The company, whose founders include former executives from Facebook and Disney, today announced a $ 4.5 million start-up round led by venture capital firm Accel. It is an agreement that CEO Kshitij Gupta sees as potentially transformative, both for his company and for customers. “We see video becoming a crucial part of the drug across many companies,” he says. “Our job is to democratize access to video.”
100ms offers a suite of software development kits that allow developers to incorporate audio and video features into their apps and websites. This is crucial, Gupta explains, because so far very few organizations have been able to offer their own live video. “It’s really quite difficult to do from a technical perspective,” Gupta explains. “Video is very challenging for developers.”
This is problematic for both companies and their customers. Currently, companies looking to interact through customers using video cannot do so with their own apps or websites; instead, they have to rely on third-party conference services, where they lack control over functionality and risk losing the direct relationship with customers. As for the customers themselves, they are frustrated with having to log out of apps and open video conferencing software – or simply over a complete lack of video functionality.
100ms’ solution is a simple set that any organization can download and integrate into their apps and websites. It instantly enables the organization to offer their own live video facilities where customers can connect seamlessly. The video is whitewashed as the app provider’s own service.
“The pandemic has accelerated user comfort with live audio and video experiences,” adds Gupta. “However, it has been difficult for developers to add such experiences – 100 ms extends access to white-labeled gold standard live experiences for millions of developers.”
The company believes that its tools will have applications across a wide range of industries. Obvious examples where video is already playing an increasingly important role include virtual events and conferences, the education sector and telecommunications health. But other sectors are also increasingly embracing video games are expected to become an important marketplace for the company along with fitness.
Ecommerce can also prove crucial, enabling retailers selling online to demonstrate products and answer questions from potential customers in real time. Already, 18% of Chinese e-commerce involves some form of video interaction, Gupta points out.
100ms believes that the experience of its founders in the video sector gives the company a head start in rolling out its services. Gupta, for example, is a veteran of Facebook Live, while Sarvesh Dwivedi, another co-founder, previously worked for Disney. The third founding member of the team, Aniket Behera, also has extensive experience in product management, engineering and video infrastructure.
This track record was one of the traits that attracted investors to the company, says Abhinav Chaturvedi, an Accel partner. “We believe that in the future, all apps will have video and audio embedded in them,” he says. “100ms is the best team to create the best developer product in the class to enable this.”
At STRIVE.vc, the second leader in the funding round, partner Nikhil Kapur adds: “An open platform that can be expanded, built by experts in audio and video streaming and supported by a burgeoning committed community, instantly convinced us that the 100ms team is building a globally leading development infrastructure company. “
The funding has enabled 100 ms to expand its team of developers significantly, with more than 30 employees now working on the product. The company formally launched its service at the end of August and already has close to 20 customers signed up. Previous users include the Indian ticket booking service BookMyShow and the social streaming service Flyx.
100ms’ business model is built on a pay-as-you-go proposal, where customers pay according to how many of their customers use the video from the company and for how long. This pricing structure should appeal to companies of all sizes and the service is geographically agnostic, as 100 ms has already assumed customers in Europe, Asia and North America.
This is only the beginning, promises Gupta. “We start with video conferencing, but over time we will be able to do a lot more,” he says. Organizations will increasingly incorporate video into their processes, he believes, citing banking authentication tools as an example. “Video is a complex issue, but it will also be important for businesses, so with our tools, developers no longer have to worry about it.”