YouTube cofounder Steve Chen is launching Nom, a live video platform built around one universal human obsession: food.
Chen and his cofounder, former YouTube engineering lead Vijay Karunamurthy, envision Nom as the app that will put you behind the scenes at your favourite restaurants, in the midst of live food events, or let you start your own cooking show.
Nom is the confluence of two big trends: live video and food social video.
A glance at the top video producers on Facebook reveals that the list is dominated by food-related channels. BuzzFeed has been particularly successful, with several food properties including first-place “Tasty.” Food videos that are short in length have proved to be a runaway hit in the world of auto-playing videos, sitting alongside the occasionally annoying (but undeniably popular) habit people have of posting artsy food photos on Instagram.
Live smartphone videos are also having a moment, with Periscope continuing to game steam, and Mark Zuckerberg reportedly obsessing over how to make Facebook’s live videos a hit. Facebook’s VP of partnerships, Dan Rose, recently said the company is focused on live video because of its high engagement. Users watch live video for three times longer than they watch recorded video.
Nom’s cofounders are betting these two forces can be combined into a platform that ties together different communities of food lovers all over the world.
Nom cofounder Vijay Karunamurthy
There are plenty of options for live video now: Facebook, YouTube, Periscope. So why would people choose Nom?
Karunamurthy tells Business Insider that food videos beg for an interactive component, which is something YouTube doesn’t completely nail. Leaving comments on a single video isn’t a great way of building a community, and people don’t usually spend much time on the “channel” page.
In designing what channels would like like on Nom, Karunamurthy says the team drew inspiration from Slack, the hot work chat startup. Nom channels are a stream of content that is run by a team, with unique identities, instead of by an individual. They can include live (or archived) videos, photos, notes, and so on.
But the “interactive” component really shows in the live videos themselves. Users can give instantaneous feedback in the form of things like a “heart,” a “thumbs up,” or an “LOL” — a more customisable version of what you can do in Periscope.
Another technical goodie Nom users can enjoy is two-camera support for live video, something Karunamurthy says was one of the biggest design challenges for the team.
Karunamurthy says that Nom is not immediately focused on how to make money, but that down the line, it will probably rely on advertising in some form. The startup has raised $4.7 million in Series A funding from investors like Khosla Ventures and SV Angel, as well as celebrities like Psy, actor Jared Leto, and 3-star Michelin chef Corey Lee, who will be launching a Nom channel.
Nom’s success will hinge on whether its live video and interactive components can create a passionate community.
Karunamurthy describes a moment in the beta when a grandmother in Sicily was showing how to make pasta sauce from a recipe that had been handed down for 100 years, with people live-translating her, and others giving encouraging feedback.
These are the types of moments that will make Nom tick.