When COVID-19 hit, Pavel Volkov, a serial entrepreneur and VC at an established crypto fund, realized his mission was to help small businesses. This is how Artifiqa, a community-oriented video reviews platform, was born.
According to recent research, videos have helped to increase product purchases 144% by capturing attention and driving customers to the checkout. The “add-to-cart” conversion rate improves 37% on average. By 2023, livestream shopping is projected to reach $25 billion in the U.S., says Coresight Research, a global advisory and research firm.
“Many of my friends in San Francisco and around the U.S. run small online stores and have been striving to increase sales in tough times,” Volkov said. “I thought videos could help. Across the globe, they have become the most popular choice for content consumption. This means videos help to sell products.”
He tested his idea on other entrepreneurs and it turned out to be successful. The average time that shoppers spent on their websites increased, as well as conversion rates and overall sales.
An idea finds its market
Artifiqa is not Voklov’s first business. Starting in his early 20s, he’s been running an IT firm in Central Asia, representing a big Bulgarian software company. One of his recent projects – a solution for marketing surveys – was launched in 2017. Volkov used blockchain technology to validate if the surveys are fraudulent.
Amir Capital, a cryptocurrency investment fund headquartered in Estonia, became interested in his solution and bought the company. Volkov was headhunted along with his team. He joined the VC world and began to evaluate startups for Amir Capital to identify those with the best investment potential. Despite this new professional frontier, his entrepreneurial dreams remained alive.
“In the beginning of 2020, I traveled to San Francisco and realized I want to create technology that solves problems for other people,” Volkov said. So he left his steady position at Amir Capital and embraced the uncertainty of entrepreneurship.
“My team believed in me and my project, so many decided to join, although it has been a tough time,” Volkov said. He initially invested around $350K of his own funds to build the platform, spending it mostly on the team’s salary and marketing.
Luckily, Volkov’s idea found its market. “We’ve discovered a very good trend,” he said. “The segment of sales through video is growing, but big players haven’t taken over yet. For startups, it’s a blue ocean — a new market with little competition and few barriers.”
Shoppable video for small online stores
Although tech giants such as Facebook, Amazon, TikTok, and Pinterest are investing big into livestream shopping, opportunity is still there. “Amazon Live, for example, is a great solution, allowing retailers to create personality-driven storytelling videos to highlight the brand and products,” Volkov said. “But it’s only available if you sell on Amazon.”
Other shoppable video solutions for e-commerce include Firework, a livestream platform that recently raised $150 million, and VideoWise, the video shopping platform for Shopify brands.
“Our main difference is that we focus on small stores, even dropshipping businesses, selling DIY tools, supplements, cosmetics, and other consumer products.” Volkov said. “There are millions of them, and we are helping to increase their sales.”
According to Volkov, Artifiqa is building a “TikTok for shopping”, a video app that connects small online stores to a platform where they could boost their sales with storytelling.
Artifiqa’s first product, Recomm.app, provides services for e-commerce businesses, helping them to boost sales. In the next few months, Volkov is planning to launch his product on Shopify and other platforms.
The future is Web3
Volkov believes his product has great potential in the metaverse. One of his first projects is a collaboration with New Layer, a Web3 startup allowing users to discover and identify NFTs.
“It’s a similar AR concept to PokemonGo, but the startup is building their own metaverse and a community on the basis of their technology, and our service helps to create videos for these NFT objects,” Volkov said.
The metaverse is becoming a new reality for online stores, allowing consumers to shop in an immersive environment. Successful brands, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dior are already embracing it.
“There are stores emerging in Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Meta, and they all will need videos,” Volkov said. “Of course, tech giants are looking into this market, and the competition is growing. But I believe there’ll be a place for our services. It’s a huge opportunity for us and all small businesses.”