Currently, there are 460 million internet users in India, second only to China. By 2021, this number is expected to be 635.8 million. India is the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world and has 42.50 million SMEs but the domain penetration rate in India is 1.1%, compared to 3.6% in China and 43.6% in the US. This gap will soon begin to close and the demand for websites, professional email addresses, and consequently, domains names, will grow at an even faster pace. Some companies are already working in this space .Started in 2012 with an eventual investment of INR 160cr, Radix is a fully owned subsidiary of the Directi Group, and is focused on new internet domain extensions, which they believe can open up huge branding and marketing opportunities for brands who wish to make a statement right from the start. Through several years of active bidding for domain registry licenses, Radix has won the global and exclusive rights to 9 new internet domain extensions that include .ONLINE, .STORE, .TECH, .WEBSITE, .SPACE, .PRESS, .SITE, .HOST, and .FUN.
In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Sandeep Ramchandani, CEO, Radix explains the importance of relevance of domain extensions at a time when startup and emerging businesses are growing relentlessly. He also explains his entrepreneurial journey and the company’s roadmap in this space.
CXOToday: When dot.com is a popular domain name, why are businesses looking at customization of Domain names? What is the scope for domain extensions?
Ramchandani: One of the most important advantages that new domain extensions offer is the availability of names. A few years ago, it was difficult to find two-word domain names but that’s no more the case. Today, you can find an exact match domain name for your business without any compromise. Technically, new domain extensions are same as a .COM, .ORG, etc. However, each domain extension means something unique linguistically. For example, .COM is short for ‘commercial’, .EDU is short for ‘education’, new domains such as .TECH represents technology, .STORE represents retail and .FUN represents entertainment. Similarly, there are 1200+ new domain extensions for various purposes and industries. So, a startup in the outer space industry can use .SPACE, a law firm can use .LAW and a club can use .CLUB.
New domain extensions are making it possible for businesses to pick keyword rich, meaningful domain names that will serve them in the long run. So, domains such as www.magazine.store directly resonate with anyone searching for ‘magazine store’. It allows the business to own valuable industry keywords as part of its online identity. Another big benefit is that you can register your firstname-lastname domain names for personal use. For example, SohiniBagchi.site or sohini.space are both available!
CXOToday: In which business verticals or industries do you see maximum business potential/opportunities?
Ramchandani: Globally, SMEs, startups and solopreneurs are a huge market for new domains. The adoption from these sectors is massive and continues to be on the rise. At Web Summit 2017, over 50 exhibiting startups were on our domains such as .TECH, .STORE, .SPACE, .PRESS, etc.
CXOToday: What was the inspiration behind setting up Radix? Tell us what prompted you to join the company?
Ramchandani: Radix was launched in 2012 and operates as a subsidiary of Directi, a $1.4 bn company founded by Bhavin Turakhia and Divyank Turakhia in 1998. I joined the Directi Group back in 2003. Prior to Radix, I was with LogicBoxes, an enterprise consulting business, which was one of the businesses acquired by Endurance International Group in 2014. I joined Radix at its inception stage as its VP and Business Head and was elevated to the position of CEO in January 2018.
Back in 2012, it had already become difficult to find short and memorable domain names amongst the available extensions. When ICANN invited the initial applications for new domain extensions, we literally sat down with the dictionary to pull out names that we thought would make for interesting and popular domain extensions. We looked at names that were generic, such as ‘online’ and ‘website’ as well as names that identified with booming industries, such as ‘tech’ for technology and ‘store’, for eCommerce. We eventually finalised a list of 31 strings, comprising several generic and mass market names. Of those, we acquired 7 and since then have attained two more names, the latest being .FUN which was launched in April 2017. Some of the top international brands on Radix domains include Google My Business (every small business that signs up gets a BUSINESSNAME.business.site sub-domain for free), www.emirates.store, www.viacom.tech, www.cta.tech (Consumer Technology Association), www.asgardia.space (the world’s first space nation),as well as www.freedom.press (Edward Snowden’s Freedom of the Press Association).
CXOToday: What are the biggest challenges in this space? How are domain players coping with such challenges?
Ramchandani: The biggest challenge in this space is the baggage of .COM. Till 2012, the world only knew of .COM, .NET, .ORG, etc. The new domain names came into the picture only in 2012, while others have been around for 25 years. The other big challenge has been engaging with the end-user. Since domain names are usually bought from a registrar (like BigRock, GoDaddy, etc) and not directly from a registry (such as Radix), connecting and communicating with the customers is difficult. Hence, creating awareness about our domain extensions and their benefits becomes challenging. To overcome this, we have partnered with more than 150 hackathons and exhibited at tech conferences for .TECH, journalism conference for .PRESS, retail conferences for .STORE, etc. The more end users know about our extensions, the more likely they are going to buy one to use for their business or themselves.
For businesses that are already on our domain extensions, we have launched unique programs such as the Startup League, which helps them gain booth sponsorship at events, access to investors, media and business partnerships. Through the Startup League, we have partnered with various international events such as SXSW (USA), The Next Web Conference (Netherlands), Web Summit (Portugal), RISE Conference (Hong Kong), TechSparks (India), etc
CXOToday: What advice would you give to people looking to start out domain investing? How much money do you think they should start with, the types of domain names they should look for?
Ramchandani: Domain names are the real estate of the Internet. Just like investing in physical real estate, domain investing is a lucrative investment opportunity. One can buy or hand-register a domain from the primary market, through a reseller or registrar, or through marketplaces that list domains, or acquire already registered domains for sale in the aftermarket. The principle that applies to all investment vehicles applies to domain investing as well – buy low and sell high.
Domain investment can be done full time or part time, and does not require a large amount of money to begin. Generally speaking, domain names are valuable if they are:
– Generic (common dictionary words, such as business.site)
– Exact-match keywords (an industry, product or service, such as bitcoin.store)- Short in length (could be an acronym or a word, such asces.tech or mad.fun)
– Easy to remember & meaningful (such asinsight.tech)- Has a good search volume, CPC & past historical or comparable sales (such as casino.online)
If you are just starting out in domain investing, have a strategy in mind. You could look at the CPC data of keywords to get an idea of what kind of industries have a higher propensity to pay for a domain name. Some of the popular industries are online gambling, finance and insurance, eCommerce, etc. On the other hand, you could target a niche such as cryptocurrency industry related keywords or geo-specific names.
CXOToday: What are the key business plans of the company in 2018-19?
Ramchandani: We are looking at expanding the penetration of our domains in India. India is a fast-growing market in the domain world. Currently, there are 460 million internet users in India, second only to China. By 2021, this number is expected to be 635.8 million. India is the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world and has 42.50 million SMEs but the domain penetration rate in India is 1.1%, compared to 3.6% in China and 43.6% in the US. This gap will soon begin to close and the demand for websites, professional email addresses, and consequently, domains names, will grow at an even faster pace.
CXOToday: Where you want to see Radix 2-3 years from now?
Ramchandani: We are looking at acquiring new domains to expand our portfolio. At the same time, we are maximising the rich potential of our existing domain extensions. The next couple of years will be very exciting for Radix as we work towards making .ONLINE one of the key alternatives to .com, .net, etc, .TECH; the leading choice for cutting-edge startups globally, and .STORE; the most sought-after domain for retail businesses worldwide, be it a handicraft seller on Etsy or an eCommerce giant.
CXOToday: What are the various ways in which one can use a domain name?
Ramchandani: Anybody who uses the internet can make use of domain names in the following ways:
– Primary Domain: Create an online identity for your business, startup, institution, organization. For example, www.louder.online or www.stronger.tech – Professional Email ID:Make a credible first impressions with a unique email id. For example, email@example.com
– Domain Redirect: Make an important inner page memorable and accessible by creating a deep-link with a domain name. For example, www.kindle.store, which redirects to Amazon’s Kindle store directly.
– Product Launches: Attract customers to your new product launches, store upgrades or seasonal promotions with a domain name. For example, if you wish to launch a new car and want to position it as a ‘fun car’, you can launch it on carname.fun
– Personal Brand: Build an attractive online persona for yourself or your employees. For example, willpaterson.space is the portfolio website of popular designer, author, hand letterer and vlogger, Will Patterson.
– Vanity: Share a simple domain name instead of complicated links to LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media platform. For example, www.andru.tech forwards to technology influencer, Andru Edwards’ YouTube page.
– Blog / Press Page: Make your brand’s voice heard online with a brandname.press domain name. For example, www.cars.mclaren.press is McLaren’s official media site.