Short-form video app, Tiki will grow its users to 60 mn in 2022, says CEO Ian Goh

Short-form video app, Tiki will grow its users to 60 mn in 2022, says CEO Ian Goh

India is on the cusp of the golden age of short-form video platforms.

Ian Goh

Mumbai: The growing insatiable hunger for online videos will augment the long-term growth of short-form video market and likely increase the monetization opportunity for the industry to worth $19 billion by 2030, according to a recent report by global consulting firm Bain & Company.

Similarly, Resheer, the management consulting firm's report highlighted that India has approximately 640 million internet users and 550 million smartphone users spending nearly 1.3 trillion hours online. Smartphone users also spend about 4.8 hours per day on their devices, with an hour spent watching videos on average. This is second to China, which also has a huge consumer-base for smartphones and internet users. The report added that India is currently witnessing 300 million users of short video apps; it could rise to 600 million by 2025.

While discussing the short-form video app Tiki's CEO Ian Goh about the market opportunities of short-form video, he believes that visibility and recognition are the biggest challenges that creators are facing currently. He adds, "To grow the community, they need to support one another."

After the government's imposition of a ban on the Chinese app TikTok, it has been observed that other Indian short-video apps have grabbed almost 97 percent of the former's user base and considerably expanded the addressable market for short video apps, thanks to aggressive marketing strategies & user acquisition. 

The Redseer also shared that the Indian apps have successfully retained 67 per cent of the TikTok subscribers by acquiring influencers and have added another 30-35 per cent of new users in the past year.

Singapore-based DOL Technology's Tiki, which was launched in 2021, is a "glocalised" platform that aims to redefine the standard for short video creation & sharing. It has millions of monthly active users in India. Since the last few months of operations, Tiki has become a platform where people come for the content but stay for the community. Tiki aims to cultivate an environment of "authentic entertainment, peer-to-peer support, and community." 

The platform’s vision is to help India’s talented content creators make a living doing what they love. Until today, Tiki has successfully on-boarded thousands of verified creators who produce great content for Indian users. Tiki also allows users to become verified Tiki creators through an easy-in-app application verification process. 

In its quest to become the most preferred short-video app in the country, Tiki is developing two competitive mega-genres: Show-Yourself and Short Series, and sub-genres under them. The Show-Yourself genre includes lip syncing, dancing, music, dubbing, dress-up, etc., while short series feature melodrama (romance, friendship, family, patriotism, mystery, horror, action, etc.) and comedy (sketch comedy, spoofs, parodies, pranks, standup, epic fails, etc.).

Tiki operates on three broad models:

1. Content First Platform—Aids in the journey of true content creators.

2. Real Original Content: Supports locally made, original, high-quality content that honours Indian values and cultures and that is also entertaining, inspiring, and educational.

3. Community: Tiki's platform for fostering relationships between creators and fans.

The short-video app is focusing on the right kinds of tools, effects, filters, and video-editing capabilities to help create better content and retain top creators on the platform. In addition to that, the app is also trying to build stronger communities to promote Indian artists and creators. caught up with Tiki's CEO Ian Goh to find out more. He is an entrepreneur with a passion for building and launching tech ventures across Asia.

He previously launched OYO’s business in Malaysia both on the demand (revenue/sales) as well as supply-side and extended it to other Southeast Asia (SEA) markets. He was also a pioneer in oBike-a Global Dock-less Bicycle Sharing startup for the Asia Pacific Region & Rush-a Scooter and Powerbank sharing startup.

Goh grew up in a city in Borneo, Malaysia and pursued his education in Singapore and pursued his business degree at the University of Melbourne. He currently resides in Singapore.

Edited Excerpts:

On the trends being seen in the content creator economy in the country

Ian: According to a recent report by RedSeer, short-video apps are expected to double their monthly active user base to 600 million by 2025 and to 850-900 million users by 2030. Today, everybody is a content creator, and people from tier two and three cities are also joining the league, aspiring to become professional creators.

With a plethora of creators, the originality of content is lost under the pile of crawler content. Visibility and recognition are the biggest challenges for creators. Therefore, if they need their communities to grow, they need to support one another. They form their own communities, doing social good and trying to get recognised by a larger audience.

On the idea of Tiki

Ian: I have always been passionate about short videos. While there are other short video apps in India, we wanted to bring something that could help the creator economy and build a community of true talent. We found a gap in India in terms of the short-video creator economy. There are creators in every corner of the country, and many times, creators are left without a platform that appreciates them.

Local creators also deserve a better platform for exposure. Therefore, we created an app that is "Made in India" for the real Indian content creators. We are the pioneers of promoting original content creators, which makes us stand out in the cluttered zone.

On the Tiktok ban benefited Indian short video apps

Ian: The sudden ban on TikTok created a void for Indian creators. It was a golden opportunity for many platforms to venture into the Indian market, but the creators were not well served. So, while the ban may have benefited Indian short video apps, it is difficult to say that it benefited Indian creators. Creators are still facing many obstacles: the growth of talented creators; plagiarised content; and no creator community.

On Tiki's USP vis-a-vis competition

Ian: Today, online creators have the advantage of pursuing what they love and monetizing through their talents. But they desire more than easy money. They want their originality to be honoured and to earn their own fame with their talents. Tiki is a platform that fulfils the creators’ demands. We are the creators’ first platform.

We prioritise 100 per cent original content. Every piece of content that goes on Tiki cannot be copied from anywhere else. No one can copy others' content and put it on Tiki. We also focus on the power of community and have created a community of real talent who meet up with each other and support one another to become a star. Our monetisation model is fair and open. We bank on a fan economy, where a user can give stars to the creator.

On Tiki's 3-pillars that aim to empower the content creator community
Ian: Tiki empowers its creators based on three broad pillars: Fame as a Service, Star Monetisation, and Creator-oriented Community.
Fame as a Service: Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualisation and esteem are at the top. Tiki translates that as fame for creators on the platform and even outside. Humans are always seeking to accumulate social capital. Tiki has designed a creator ecosystem in which everyone can be verified to join. Anyone can rise through the ranks to become a White V creator, then a Gray V, and finally a Blue V top influencer on Tiki.
Tiki innovated and continues to manage the ecosystem so that the truly talented can break through. Tiki helps its verified creators along their hero journey by providing 100 percent of its traffic, constantly updating functions and stickers, and helpful managers, all in order for creators to fully express their creativity, be famous, and popular. Tiki calls it Fame as a Service (FaaS).

Star Monetisation: Instead of the traditional black box model of paying creators, Tiki innovated a performance-based mechanism that is transparent and fair to the talented ones.

Creator-oriented Community – It’s never only about getting famous and making money. Creators are also here to make friends and socialise with others. Now they’ve formed over 500 family guilds on Tiki. Some are holding panels to share video shooting skills, others are organising offline meetups for a shared interest or a charitable event. Every month, the Tiki community organises over 1000 offline meetups and 20,000 online meetups.

For instance, three family guilds had offline cleanups and tree planting on Earth Day. Tiki sponsors verified meetups for creators to entertain and learn within the community. Tiki provides creators with a safe and family-like community to explore more opportunities and benefits with their peers.

On Tiki's monetisation model
Ian: At Tiki, we don’t follow the traditional black box model of paying creators; we’ve innovated a performance-based mechanism that is transparent and fair to the talented ones. The money they earn is only defined by the stars they gain from users. Star is a feature Tiki designed for users to send to their favourite creators or content.
Different from the "like" culture, which has been inflated and even abused on many other platforms, Star on Tiki can be viewed as a thoughtful and sincere vote from a user to a creator. Star can be earned via short videos, profile pages, and live broadcasting. Further, we would like to explore the fan economy, social commerce, and brand collaboration as monetisation models for our creators.

On efforts to create an environment of authentic entertainment, peer-to-peer support, and community

Ian: We are a "Make in India for India" platform that focuses on improving the Indian creator economy. We aim to create a platform where local talents are appreciated for their originality. For this, we have generated software that can detect the copied content. We have an experienced local team headed by Abhishek Dutta to do creator verification to make sure all verified creators are real and upload original content.

On Tiki’s plan to reach 60 million users by the end of the year

Ian: Tiki started with only 120 content creators in the beginning but now boasts of having over four lakh content creators on board in a matter of 1.5 years in India. Our aim is not to scale up to 120 million users overnight. We focus a lot on time spent on the app and the retention rate of users.

The industry average for time spent on short-form video apps is 20 minutes. People spend close to 22 minutes on Tiki every day. Therefore, by the end of 2022, we intend to reach 60 million users. We will continue to empower local creators and bridge the online and offline gap via community meetups.

On the strategy that ensures that only original content is on Tiki

Ian: Short video platforms are in abundance in India, and many of them do not emphasise the originality of the content. Different from the flood of crawler content on other platforms, Tiki stands strong for locally made, original, high-quality content that honours Indian values and cultures and is also entertaining, inspiring, and educational. Tiki manages to do it with its in-house developed creator verification system and strict content moderation standards.

On the content that works on Tiki

Ian: Our insight tells us that crawler content, vulgar content, non-original content, and even indecent content are prevailing on many other platforms. That’s where we want to position Tiki differently.

Tiki discovered and developed two competitive mega-categories: ‘Show-Yourself’, and ‘Short Series.’ The ‘Show-Yourself’ genre is all about showcasing one’s talent. It includes lip syncing, dancing, music, dubbing, fashion, etc. While the 'ShortWhile Short Series' category features bite-sized video stories, sub-genres include: melodrama (romantics, friendship, family, patriotism, mystery, horror, action, etc.) and comedy (sketch comedy, spoofs, parodies, pranks, standup, epic fails, etc.). All the content on Tiki is original and created by real local creators in India.

On the whitespace of tier two, and three cities

Ian: India is on the cusp of the golden age of short-form video platforms. The size of the short video market is expected to grow from 240 million to 650 million in 2025 as many tier two and three cities' users are embarking on the journey of content creation. Instagram has become too saturated to grow an easy follower base. Many short video creators can amass five million Tiki followers but only 20,000 on Instagram. With our real creator ecosystem, we believe many new talents will be discovered through Tiki.

On whether a shakeout is imminent given the competition

Ian: There is healthy competition in the creator space, and we have to stick to our USPs to support the creators. The shakeout would happen to those that do not add value to the stakeholders.

On the potential Tiki sees in social commerce and branded content

Ian: According to EY India, social commerce currently accounts for one per cent to 1.5 per cent of overall e-commerce. The share of social commerce is expected to go up to six per cent by 2025. Social commerce is not a competitor to e-commerce but an important extension of it. Tiki sees potential in social commerce in the near future, but first it’s about building a healthy creator-user ecosystem.

On fundraising plans

Ian: Yes, we are open to funding and looking for investors who share the same vision and cherish the same values as us—creators deserve a better platform to thrive through their talents. Investing in Tiki is investing in the creator economy.

On the challenge of scaling up rapidly

Ian: There are many short video apps in India claiming to be number one in the market. However, we believe that the challenge is not about its speed or scale but whether it’s sustainable or not. We want our creator and content ecosystem to grow consistently, benefiting our creators. We want to be a powerhouse for the Indian creator economy.

Therefore, our challenge is to scale up while remaining sustainable. We will stick to our creator first principle, providing our creators with monetisation channels and helping them grow and thrive.