The other day I read the news about a Chinese startup called SoundAi. As usual, I did a little bit of study and found the company interesting. It shows that you can go global on day one with a good domain strategy – and at low cost.
Beijing-based SoundAi supplies acoustic components powered by artificial intelligence to makers of smart speakers and other voice-controlled devices, which are expected to become the entry point for web search and online shopping. The company was founded by four researchers from the Institute of Acoustics of the Chinese Academy. In just two years, it has already received three rounds of investments totaling about $57 million, showing a lot of strength in the company’s technologies.
Now let’s look at the company’s domain strategy. The founders know domains are vital, because they secured the most important domains before they opened door for business. Both SoundAi.com and SoundAi.cn were registered on January 9, 2016 before the company was established later in April, 2016. Both domains are brand matching, and their registration dates suggest that the cost could be about $20 together.
Baidu and Google searches confirmed SoundAi.com as their corporate domain. Therefore, the startup was positioned as a global player on day one. They own but do not use SoundAi.cn, which suggests acquisition for brand protection. However, they should be glad they did because changes in local market condition or legal requirements in the future may require the use of the Chinese extension domain within China.
The name is also interesting. SoundAi is made up of two terms: sound and AI. Combining the two terms gives rise to a unique name which also reflects what they do. Take note that an English- but not Pinyin-based name was chosen for this Chinese company. This is one of many examples I have come across which break the myth that Chinese companies don’t like English-based names because Chinese people don’t understand English. The advantage of English-based names becomes obvious when companies expand their business beyond China.
SoundAi’s website design is modern, sleek, and complete with both Chinese and English contents. In the virtual world of the internet, if your store address (domain) is a .com matching your corporate brand and your store building (website) is professionally designed, you project an image of a credible and global company. The next thing to come in due time will be to staff your store with millions of multilingual AI-powered specialists (bots) to cater to every customer from every country of the world.
In summary, if you aspire to become a global player like SoundAi, use the English+dotCom strategy: create an English-based name and register its matching global extension .com on day one. The domain will give you the perception of a global company – even if you are only a one-man band.
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