Meet Huddle01, the startup creating a free web3-based alternative to Zoom

Centralized video conferencing platform Zoom has become infamous for its alleged privacy and security breaches, as well as its “zoom-bombing” – a practice where hackers and pranksters rush into virtual meetings and post abusive messages.

Ayush Ranjan and Lavania Summit found it ironic that entrepreneurs and blockchain and Web3 communities still use Zoom for meetings. Although they are supporters of decentralization, Web3 communities always met on a centralized virtual platform.

This inspired the duo (from the LNM Institute of Information Technology) to create a Web3 native real-time communication platform, which would be a decentralized, transparent and secure alternative to Zoom.

As a result, the video conferencing platform Huddle01 was formed.

“Instead of the traditional client-server architecture used by video conferencing platforms, Susmit and I decided to leverage blockchain technology to create Huddle as a peer-to-peer communication platform. ) that was not based on centralized servers. Data moves directly between users via their browsers,” says Ayush Ranjan in a conversation with The story deciphered.

Huddle is free, requires no registration, and does not track user data. It also provides rich Web3 features such as token-gating, NFTs as profile pictures, decentralized storage for meeting recordings (on IPFS and filecoin), decentralized live streaming (on Livepeer), and more.

So far, the project claims to have hosted more than 10,000 meetings for over 4,000 users. He also raised a seed round of $2 million in 2021 from Protocol laboratories and web3 angel investors such as Sandeep Nailwal, Preethi Kasireddy and many more.

Edge of Huddle

Huddle’s mission is to enable seamless video calling while securing users’ online presence, protecting their digital identities and allowing them to express themselves freely, the startup claims.

Indeed, its decentralized network of users (called nodes) allows it to reach low latency and high speeds, rivaling even that of more established centralized video calling platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.

“If you’re using Zoom in India, your audio-video data may be routed through North America, and those data packets have to travel long distances due to Zoom’s client-server architecture. Huddle leans on a P2P or node-to-node structure where nodes that are much closer to a specific user are leveraged to host a meeting,” says Susmit.

“Huddle coordinates compute and bandwidth resources around edges to forward audio-video packets through nodes significantly closer to the user. Thus, the distance the data has to travel is reduced by thousands of kilometers. This brings lower latency and higher performance,” he adds.

Additionally, because Huddle is powered by blockchain, data and information on the platform is transparent and visible to nodes. It’s not a “black box” like Zoom’s data system, the co-founders say.

However, centralized communication platforms are optimized for scale and can handle hundreds (in some cases, up to a thousand) of concurrent users in a meeting room.

As an early-stage company, Huddle continues to expand its scalability, even as it seeks to add more supply and demand in terms of user nodes.

“At the moment we can manage 50 people in a meeting room, but we aim to accommodate 100 users at a time. Later this year, we are activating a webinar feature where over a thousand people can join a virtual room,” says Ayush.

In Web3, scalability and supply-demand are often intertwined, as integrating more nodes into its network allows Huddle to scale its video calling capabilities.

With its upcoming token, nodes that are part of the startup’s network are also incentivized to earn.

Revenue model and future plans

Huddle’s revenue model is twofold. He offers Personalized, token-secure video calling and meeting room experiences communities and businesses, and charges a subscription fee for it.

This too rents its infrastructure to people wishing to build or integrate their own audio-video platforms, and charges per user per minute.

Going forward, Huddle is looking to release its whitepaper, introduce grant programs, launch a testnet, and more.

The co-founders remain optimistic about their lofty goal of creating the Web3 alternative for Zoom, especially when it seems like no other player is tackling the same problem for encrypted video calls.

Only certain privacy browsers, like blockchain browser Bravehave enabled video call features.

“We are among the first builders to attempt to build a decentralized real-time communications infrastructure,” Ayush says.

(This story has been updated to change the title and add a contribution from the company.)

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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