Monday, April 25, 2011

African Startups in .com(dotcom) ambush

Recently, I've been involved with low, medium and high profile projects.

Most of them required getting a domain name related to the project I'm working on.

Sometimes, the client come with their domain names.
But some of them are beginners, they have little knowledge of domain name check sites like, or the numerous re-sellers who have this service.

Africa is in the period of uprising in web and mobile. More people and companies are seeing the need to get a web presence.
Startups are born every second from Nigeria , through Cameroon, East to South Africa. Internet usage in Africa is rising. The present growth is at 2,357.3 %. {that's HUGE!}

The major problem is, the startup or the company needs to get a name that reflects the company or the product or the startup name. This means my startup company name should not be Cocoa and my domain name is Corn!

In one of the cases,
a company that has been existing in Cameroon for 10 years called NRL, needs a  website with a .com extension The company specialises in Computer spare parts.

But if you go through the search to buy the domain, it can not be available. see,

result from

See for yourself the domains available :); .la and .cc. Disaster!.

I noted that possible words from the English dictionary saw all the domains absent.

If you are lucky someone should be ready to re-sell at a higher cost. But we should not settle on that.
It is this very problem of absence of proper domain which first prompted the Wasamundi team to look inside.
We understood that Africa and Cameroon has a rich culture of Language and A name drawn from this language should be .com available. We were sure, we would find something like us.

Originally, we tried, locate, locator, ifind, findme, searchme, all this domain names searchearth{which is not actually sexy for a product name} where not available.
We therefore settled for wasamundi, which has several varied meanings, but we are sticking with searchearth.

I should not be tempted to think that ,it is this .com ambush that led to the name Ushahidi, ubuntu, umbono.
Nevertheless, whether they were ambushed or not, the example is clear. 
Drawing a product name from Africa's rich culture should be our number on thoughts for African startups.

So my advice is simple, no matter the .com ambush, Africa has a rich culture, rich language which should serve as an escape route to the .com ambush.

Greetings to my friend Eloge Kly, CEO of dotcom :).

I'll see you sooner!