WATCH: Why interactive video platform Toch is now betting big on live commerce

After its success with its AI video platform, Mumbai-based Toch is now setting its sights on live commerce, which combines live video streaming with the ability to interact with sellers and buy immediately during the streaming.

Founded in 2016 by Vinayak Shrivastav, Alok Patil and Saket Dandotia, Toch is an ecommerce and social media platform. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning technology to detect objects, people, emotion, location and activity seen in the video content in real-time.

Primarily, Toch facilitates technology that creates content to engage an audience, building it for several apps through meta tagging.

In this video, one of the founders, Vinayak Shrivastav, discusses what it means to build a meta tagging company in India:

Toch enables the algorithm to learn about the kind of data that needs to be presented to the customer, thereby increasing engagement with an audience.

Data crunching for better engagement

Now, Toch is setting its sights in another direction.

Crunching millions of data has made Toch set a course towards live commerce while engaging audience on videos. Live commerce is a term used to denote shopping while watching the content live and the transaction takes place in any live streaming app. For example, if a viewer is watching Avengers on an app, then he can choose to natively buy Avengers merchandise.

The data to train Toch's algorithm comes from its clients.

Vinayak Shrivastav says, "We bet on video very early because we knew all content was going towards it. Meta tagging allows ads to be placed intelligently and enables measurement of the engagement for the publisher and brands."

Venturing into live ecommerce will also enable Toch to reach out to customers. It is all set to launch its own app, and feature influencers to promote products like accessories, beauty and household items. The target for Toch over the next 18 months is to get 100,000 influencers on board. It has plans to expand its presence to the US and Japan as well.

Meta-tagging, the founders believe, is a huge market because of its utility in the adspace. For example, Snap, the parent of Snapchat, acquired Zenly and Metamarkets for large undisclosed amounts running into millions.

Toch founders

Toch’s big break happened in 2016 when it was picked by Zee and included in its startup cohort. Zee5, the OTT platform, became Toch’s client and paved the way for it to acquire more than 10 customers.

The company has cumulatively raised $1 million in angel investments from Hyderabad angels. "We won our clients through common connections. We were able to impress them about our technology," says Vinayak.

He adds that clients realised that meta tagging if done with algorithms could change the way ads and engagement could be measured dynamically.

The Toch business model is based on a per-API-call basis, which means every time the client wants to create a quick engagement with video, the Toch algorithm in the app would be called to do the meta tagging. This is how Toch earns its revenue.

The startup did not want to reveal revenues. Going forward, Toch hopes to build a social media platform where users can share ideas, views, and their smart videos by leveraging the ‘Toch intelligence’.

(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)