How this startup is making business out of naming the newbornsSharika Nair
Although our names form an integral part of our identity, we do not get to choose them. Young Indian parents are waking up to the weight of this decision. They are putting a lot of effort into research so that they can choose a pleasant, meaningful, and unique name for their child. Ratnakar Poduri, Co-founder of Name ‘R’ Newborn (pronounced as name 'our' newborn), spoke to me about his experience when his wife was expecting their baby.
Both of us were working fulltime in demanding environments and time was a major constraint while researching baby names. Since we live in the US, away from immediate family, we were managing everything related to her pregnancy and delivery on our own. Yes, friends and family pitched in with a few naming suggestions, but they were limited. Internet had a huge database of thousands of baby names and trawling through them was a headache. With trends and tastes changing, we were looking for new avenues and across cultures to name our child.
This experience sowed the idea for Name ‘R’ Newborn in his mind. Founded in July 2016 by 39-year-old Ratnakar and his brother, Srikanth Poduri, 37, Name ‘R’ Newborn has had 23 contests so far. This means 23 expecting families have used their platform to crowdsource names. They have 172 namers (contributors) registered so far on the portal and they cater to the global Indian population. In the US, parents pay $25 for starting a contest and the contributor whose suggestion is chosen by the parents wins a reward of $20, with $5 going to Name ‘R’ Newborn. In India, the amount is Rs 1,500 for the contest and the reward is Rs 1,200 for the winning name.
What are the problems solved by Name ‘R’ Newborn?
Parents who are busy with demanding lifestyles and want a cool name with specific requirements ‑ for example, a specific starting alphabet, numerological criteria, birth star, etc. ‑ can use the portal to zero in on the perfect name.
With close to 1.2 million searches for ‘Indian Baby Names’ keyword (and affiliated keywords like Hindu baby boy name) per month, more and more people are turning to the internet for baby names. “With 65 percent of Indian population being under the age of 35 (prospective client base), and 35 percent (around 450 million) of Indian population being internet users (growing at four to five percent every year), we sensed a huge scope in this segment,” says Ratnakar.
Why will people pay when content is available for free?
Internet has a large collection of baby names, with every baby naming website having almost the same set of static collection (around 10,000), which is very obsolete and with zero user experience. With their approach, the parent can harness the power of the people on the internet (the CROWD) to gather (SOURCE) a large pool of relevant names. The collective creativity of their Namers is leveraged through the platform.
The process is simple and has three steps:
- The parent completes a questionnaire specifying their baby name preferences and kickstarts a PAID contest on the platform.
- The Namers registered on their platform submit their suggestions to meet the client's contest criteria.
- The parents choose the name (winning name) they like the most. The platform will award a cash prize to the Namer who submitted the winning name and keeps 10 percent as service fee.
A truly global team
Ratnakar currently works as a Tech Architect with JC Penney and is based in Dallas, Texas, while Srikanth, who handles most of the operations, is based out of Hyderabad. Their core team also includes Padma Akella, who oversees all their creative content and is based in Kolkata.
They have a few developers in India who take care of technical requirements. Since their target market includes global Indians too (around 20 percent, out of which 11 percent are from the US), their physical presence in the US is helpful in marketing the product there in a big way.
Since 80 percent of their traffic comes from India, they plan to have a bigger team in India soon.
After this vertical is proven, the team wants to diversify into adjacent domains using the same concept of contest based crowd sourcing. The other domains they have identified are:
- Tag Lines - For products, businesses, brands and movies.
- Business names, brand names, product names.
- Advertising / Brand - one liners and slogans.
- Branding Ideas.
- Various crafts of film making a) Film names b) story concepts c) Screenplay d) Film music (songs / lyrics).
The team is still contemplating whether these verticals will have different names or if they will have an umbrella brand name for their platform.
Their immediate target in next few months is to reach the 100 contests mark. Ratnakar hopes this will give them a good exposure and help refine their platform and overcome glitches. Currently bootstrapped, the team is also actively considering other funding options.