Cosmos Video, the virtual venues platform which allows people to work, hang out and socialise together, has raised around €2.2 million in seed funding from Europe’s leading seed investors, LocalGlobe with participation from Entrepreneur First, Andy Chung and Phillip Moehring (AngelList), and Omid Ashtari (ex-President, Citymapper).
Founded by serial entrepreneurs Rahul Goyal and Karan Baweja this year, who recently led product teams at Citymapper and TransferWise respectively, Cosmos is on a mission to enable human connection in the remote era.
The past nine months have seen our lives dramatically altered and people are feeling disconnected with their communities as a result. Many interactions have been replaced by monotonous video calls, which can feel mechanical and constrained. In addition, social network feeds have become a hollow proxy for serendipitous conversation in shared spaces. Virtual Reality promised much, and could have given us the sense of being together, but it’s not mass consumer ready. At the same time, gaming platforms such as Animal Crossing and Roblox have surged. These digital worlds not only offer a chance to disconnect from the staleness of our day-to-day routines, but also provide a shared space and experience, closely mimicking the real-world interactions.
Founded in 2020, Cosmos is creating virtual venues by combining game mechanics with video chat to bring back serendipitous interactions when people can’t be together physically. After choosing their personalised avatar, people can meet up with their colleagues or friends inside a browser-based game. As they move their avatars closer to one another they can video chat amongst themselves, like in real-life.
On Cosmos, office colleagues can work collaboratively on tools such as whiteboards, Google documents and Figma. Even if you’re not in the same physical space as your colleagues, you can play virtual board games or gather around a table to celebrate a friend’s birthday and feel connected. Beyond the impact of COVID, Cosmos is a way for employees in different national or international offices to spend time together, and solve a problem that existed long before the coronavirus hit. The founders believe the trend of companies going fully remote or hybrid will persist in the long term and working remotely will be similar, if not better than working in an actual office.
Cosmos is currently being used in a private beta by a select group of companies to host their offices and for social events such as Christmas parties. The company is also receiving requests to host events, meetup groups and family gatherings. Long-term, the team plans to expand the platform to facilitate a variety of different use cases to continue on its mission of enabling human connection in the remote era.
The founders met at engineering school and later studied together at London Business School. The duo then tapped into their entrepreneurial roots, and built Spyn, an on-demand dry-cleaning company. Following a successful exit from the business, they went on to hone their product skills, with Goyal heading up the Ride and Pass teams at Citymapper, while Baweja led the Borderless Account team at TransferWise. Now, they’re back to being founders, and solving a problem that’s permeated across industries and geographies.
Co-founder Rahul Goyal said: “Once the pandemic hit, we both saw productivity surge in our respective teams but at the same time, people were missing the in-office culture. Video conferencing platforms provide a great service when it comes to meetings, but they lack the spontaneity and fun that form the basis of our relationships. Cosmos is a way to bring back that human connection that we’re lacking when we spend all day online, by providing a virtual world where you can play a game of Pictionary after work with colleagues or gather round a table to celebrate a friend’s birthday.”
Co-founder Karan Baweja said: “Online platforms have used the concept of ‘community’ as their mission statement but scrolling through feeds of comments, pictures and recorded videos have only served to make us feel more alone. With Cosmos, we’ve striven to create something which captures that magical feeling of being together so people can enjoy live experiences online when they can’t in-person.”
George Henry, partner, LocalGlobe said: “We were really impressed with the vision and potential of Cosmos. Scaling live experiences online is one of the big internet frontiers where there are still so many opportunities. Now that the video infrastructure is in place, we believe products like Cosmos will enable new forms of live online experiences. Whether it’s virtual socialising or networking events, Cosmos will be central to providing borderless contact and connection between different communities and workplaces in years to come.”