Women in Tech: iPhone video powered a forward-thinking video commerce platform 

With COVID creating a livestream shopping boom and rapid shifts in consumer behaviour and buying patterns, we decided to look at new innovations that are reshaping how people purchase and businesses sell.

Livestream or video commerce uses content on digital platforms to promote or sell products and services in real-time while allowing audiences to interact with the retailer. It has been credited by many as a means of enhancing engagement and conversion for companies globally.

According to, online videos made up more than eighty-two per cent of all consumer internet traffic by the end of last year, fifteen times higher than in 2017. In addition, research from Appmysite states that by 2040, 95 per cent of purchases will be made online.

One company truly making its mark in the video commerce world is Axonista. Founded by Irish entrepreneurs Claire McHugh and Daragh Ward, the concept first came to light when the pair watched an iPhone video while sitting in a bar in 2010. They wondered what would happen should they be able to interact with what they saw on screen. Hence, the company boasts offices in Dublin and New York was born. Today Axonista powers interactive video capabilities for QVC, Oxfam, HSN, WaterBear and more.

With figures from Instamojo suggesting that two hundred and sixteen million eCommerce users now shop through video, we spoke to Axonista Co-founder Claire McHugh about interactive video technology, women in tech and her ambitions for her ever-growing company.

Where did the concept for Axonista come from?

We founded Axonista in 2010, inspired by the potential of interactive video technology for modern video storytellers amidst the changing TV industry. The name Axonista means ‘Revolutionary Thinking’.

In your opinion, what are the challenges video innovation faces?

I think that to compete for audiences in modern video streaming, companies must innovate and adopt a product-first mindset to do so. This can be challenging for organisations new to this way of thinking. Axonista helps media companies navigate this transition and supports brands in making video a core part of their business, ensuring they have the right foundations for success. 

Do you believe livestream shopping is the way of the future? If so, why?

Gen Z is a video-first generation; they use it for everything. They have high expectations of video products due to growing up with technology like Instagram and TikTok. Video storytelling builds an emotional connection with the viewer, and interactive video converts that emotion into action, sometimes in a matter of seconds. I believe live shopping is an exciting and important new sales channel to connect with Gen Z. Live shopping has up to ten times higher conversion rates than e-commerce and is a growing sales channel.

Will video innovation eventually replace physical stores?

There will always be physical stores, but they will evolve. Physical stores offer an immersive experience that can be extended online with video and new technology. Retailers can film live shopping shows in-store with their product specialists to provide a sense of place and connection to the online audience, potentially driving in-store traffic.

Women in tech
Claire McHugh

Can you tell us about the technology involved in campaigns with clients such as QVC, MTV etc.?

Our video innovation platform enables product teams at media companies to experiment with new capabilities, from streaming to video commerce, and lean on expert support from our team. Such technology powers a variety of video innovations, including second-screen apps, shoppable retail videos, and environmental awareness. We find huge amounts of inspiration in our customers’ storytelling and what they produce using our platform.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges of being a female founder?

As a founder, I strive to solve major challenges. For me, this includes helping to create conditions for female founders to succeed at all levels, from career development to investment. I’m also privileged to bring a female founder perspective to the not-for-profit organisation Scale Ireland’s board, which aims to support indigenous Irish startups.

What are your ambitions for Axonista?

We aim to be the platform that powers interactive storytelling for everyone.

We envision a future where interactive video storytelling is the norm for many types of industries, and we intend to lead that market. I believe the future is exciting and interactive.

And finally, are there any other developments in video innovation that Axonista is looking to embrace?

Innovation is a core value that drives competitive advantage for our customers and us. Our team gets very excited about new technological advancements, such as ChatGPT, that can bring efficiencies to customer workflows or enable new capabilities. We help our customers leverage these enabling technologies to innovate. From an industry perspective, retail media and metaverse are two trends we pay close attention to in video innovation.

Claire McHugh is CEO and Co-founder of Axonista, the video innovation platform. You can contact her through Twitter or LinkedIn 

Rebecca Lee is a journalist and broadcaster of over 23 years. She also works in tech communications with ClearStory International. To date, she has written for and continues to contribute to The Business Post, The Irish Times, The Irish Daily Mail, The Sunday World, and, most importantly, European tech publication 4i Magazine. Rebecca also worked as a radio presenter for 13 years with leading Irish stations Q102 and FM104. Alongside balancing her PR and journalism work, Rebecca moderates events, WebSummit 2022 and Dublin Tech Summit being the most recent.