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Business News/ Companies / People/  Women find a platform in coto

Women find a platform in coto

The two-month-old women-exclusive web3 social platform has crossed 100,000 subscribers already. On the platform, women are talking about financial independence, being empowered, and things like mental health, menstrual health and sexual health

Tarun Katial, co founder of cotoPremium
Tarun Katial, co founder of coto

MUMBAI : Former ZEE5 chief executive Tarun Katial’s first-of-its-kind women-exclusive social media platform, coto, claims to have achieved more than 100,000 subscribers in less than two months of launch.

The web3-based platform launched by Katial’s Eve World was envisaged as a safe space for women to share views, express, engage, and be rewarded without toxicity.

Katial, who raised over $7 million from Singapore-based Jungle Ventures, Polygon and a clutch of angel investors, has also roped in his former colleagues from ZEE5—Aparna Acharekar and Rajneel Kumar—as co-founders for Eve World. While initially, the plan was to launch coto, short for ‘come together’, in early 2022, it got pushed to January this year.

“It’s been like eight weeks and we are seeing incredible growth in the number of women signing up and engaging with each other," Katial said in an interview.

“This is the platform where women are genuinely finding that self-expression, safety, and also support amongst other women. They are talking about becoming financially independent, being empowered, and things like mental health, menstrual health, and sexual health. These are big topics."

Katial said at the planning stage when they were discussing building the product, they realized that the users will guide along the way on what they wanted from the platform.

“And we can see that their need to be able to monetize is quite high. We have got these three R’s that we work with, which are ‘Real, Relevant, and Revenue generating’ conversations," he added.

In order to reward content creators and influencers on the platform, the company has launched a token programme. It has also signed large-volume token deals with influencer agencies like Big Bang Socia of the Collective, wherein the key influencers will have kind of private treaties.

Going forward, tokens will be one of the aspects of fundraising, he said.

“The way we’re doing this is that most of the advertising revenue and expenditure is linked to tokens, and commerce is linked to FIAT. So we may continue to do some equity raises on the commerce side, as we build the commerce capabilities, but on the advertising subsidiary, it will be largely token-based," Katial explained.

Users will also get points of referral, which can be converted into tokens.

“Our idea is to reward the women, who help us to build this network. The referral programme will work in a way that every time you refer somebody to the platform, you get coto gains, which can eventually be traded into tokens. Once we do the token generation event, all of these will get into the tokenomics. The good part of web3 is that it allows you to raise ahead of your platform execution and allows you to collaborate and bring in partners who help you build rather than listing after you’ve built. So you don’t end up doing a lot more venture capital and then doing an IPO, but you end up doing a lot more tokens early on and get the token generation event so that you’re collaborating at a fully diluted value earlier."

Katial said the business model is not very capex-heavy as it is not into customer acquisition or generating content.

“We are building great infrastructure for women to be able to build their communities and monetize them. So the entire story is not around high-cost content or high-cost customer acquisition, but it’s about broad, collaborative, participative ownership, and providing really good tools for women to win… we are willing to dilute to the creators rather than to the VCs. And we’re willing to pay the creators through tokens rather than pay Google and Facebook for customer acquisition."

The company uses AI and facial recognition technology to ensure male users are kept out of the service. Every 10th session, the app asks for facial recognition. “Even I can’t use the app using my wife’s account," Katial quipped.

On disallowing men’s participation on the app, he said in future, community owners may be allowed to showcase some of the content on the web, but it will be the community owners’ choice and not that of the company’s. “If you see the kinds of conversations that are happening, the social reality is that women will not be comfortable and men are not mature enough. And our theme is that we can’t change the world, but we want to create a new one for you."

Currently, coto has also seen good response in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said Katial, adding that the biggest validation is that women are coming on the app and creating communities. The app currently has over 5,000 communities, across health and wellness, fitness, parenting, hobby and craft, food, fashion, travel, spirituality, astrology, finance, and so on.

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Published: 24 Mar 2023, 10:17 PM IST
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