With a number of companies, especially in edtech, marketing, and others, opting for video streaming, the question is how safe is the platform that hosts them. While video encryption promises safety and security, according to the founders of VdoCipher, Vibhav Sinha and Siddhant Jain, the protocols they offer are not foolproof.
Their explanation is both simple and thought-provoking. “Suppose, you have bought a state-of-the-art lock for your home, one even the most masterful locksmiths cannot break. But if you leave your key under the door mat, will your state-of-the lock still ensure security for your home?” they ask.
This is the premise behind VdoCipher, the Gurugram-based startup that aims to provide zero-risk solutions for media and education businesses to help them serve content on their website or app with what they claim, Hollywood grade security, refinement and functionalities.
If a business or company uses VdoCipher, no internet-based downloader can download and play videos. It takes care of your piracy issues and unauthorised downloading. It’s as simple as that.
Tackling piracy head-on
Vibhav and Siddhant were studying engineering at IIT-Delhi in 2015 at a time when online video piracy was rampant.
“As college students, we would see a number of movies and courses being pirated. Vibhav already had experience as a freelancer building cloud-based applications. While doing a course on Coursera on encryption, Vibhav thought of combining encryption with cloud rendered video playback,” explains Siddhant.
To put their idea into action, the duo reached out to two big Indian e-learning companies including CAclubindia with a prototype and asked them if video piracy was an issue. The companies replied in the affirmative and also shared that they were looking for more secure solutions.
That is when they started to build the product and launched VdoCipher in 2015.
“By the time we left college, we had six paying customers. We formally incorporated the company and raised an angel round led by Dr Aniruddha Malpani, Solidarity Advisors, and five other angel investors in early 2016,” adds Siddhant.
How it works
VdoCipher offers a host of security features like Hollywood standard DRM encryption (Digital Rights Management), screen capture blocking, viewer-specific watermarking and licensing technologies and optimised encoding for videos to ensure quality experience in low internet connections across Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
“At VdoCipher, we use the same underlying encryption protocols to prevent video piracy that are used by likes of Netflix, Hotstar to secure their Hollywood content. We are a direct Google partner for the major encryption technology called Google Widevine DRM,” explains Siddhant.
According to the founders, these features ensure videos are not downloaded or shared illegally from a video platform. It claims to be the first one globally who has combined the highest security tech with an easy to use packaged offering of video player and cloud hosting; allowing it to cater to any size of business.
“A single teacher owning a website to a large edtech platform with millions of users; everybody can have access to our secure product.”
Platform owners can use VdoCipher on their own website or app. The complete package includes global CDN server hosting, custom video player, analytics, dashboard, and APIs to manage videos.
Currently, the startup claims to serve over 1000+ paid business customers across 30+ countries. It also won the best video security company award by Streaming Media magazine, Europe.
Ensuring security of varied platforms
VdoCipher mainly targets the education and media space.
“A lot of Indian platforms catering to UPSC, IIT, Medical, MBA test preparation and K-12 learning rely on us for video playback and security. Other important customers include edtech platforms from Europe, Brazil and the Middle East providing science, finance, marketing, and maths tutorials,” says Siddhant.
As most educational institutes have shifted online during the pandemic, VdoCipher claims to have seen its existing customer base grow by over 50 percent in viewership during the period, and double signup rates for new customers. Also, around 60 percent of this growth has come from outside India.
VdoCipher also has some clients in the media space where regional movie producers and international film festivals are its key media customers.
“We sell a packaged secure video hosting solution that is automated, which means anyone can sign up on the VdoCipher website anytime and start using it. It includes DRM video encryption, screen capture block for apps, viewer based watermark for websites, smart video player, AWS global server CDN, dashboard and analytics,” says Siddhant.
The startup charges and makes profits based on bandwidth and storage. The primary costs for any business is based on bandwidth, which depends on how many viewers they have and how many videos they watch.
Siddhant says that about three million hours of content is played via Vdocipher in a month by customers in across 30+ countries.
The Indian e-learning market is estimated to be about $2.5 billion and one percent of that can be attributed to video hosting/streaming solutions built for e-learning; thus making it about a $25 million market specific to video hosting for e-learning in India.
Siddhant emphasises that the unique selling point of his startup is the highest security it offers against video piracy.
He says, “The existing video hosting solutions in platforms like Vimeo or YouTube provide no or incredibly low security from video piracy. There are security technologies available in the market but previously it was only within reach of large enterprises like Netflix, Hotstar, etc.”
“VdoCipher combines the highest security technologies with a complete player + video hosting solution to serve all sizes of businesses. Thus, VdoCipher effectively brings Netflix-like video security from the heights of large media enterprises to within the reach of edtech platforms and small/medium movie platforms,” the co-founder adds.
The startup claims to have a current quarter-on-quarter growth ranging from 20 to 30 percent and an ARR of Rs 10 crore. ($1.3 million).
Moving ahead, VdoCipher aims to be the first choice company for any business in India and the world, looking for a video hosting solution to prevent online piracy. The team is also working on an interactive video player solution to increase video engagements on a large scale for edtech and marketing businesses.
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