Ta Da — The magic behind naming startups.

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A lingerie shop in Luxembourg

‘A rose with any another name would still smell sweet’

The guys sat in the far corner of the coffee shop huddled in an animated discussion. The waitress, attending their table, had been trying to get them place their order as it’s been 30 min since they set foot inside the coffee shop. There wasn’t much crowd in the coffee shop in south of Bengaluru owing to the long New Year weekend and the city’s populace was partying elsewhere leaving behind empty roads and empty hangouts. One from the huddle, turned and looked at the girl and said ‘cold coffees for all of us please’ and off she went to get them their iced lattes. The discussions resumed. Each time the group laughed, one of them typed in something in his laptop and then shook his head saying ‘No’.
The guys were discussing possible names for a potential idea of theirs. The idea was to come up with a mobile app that could help homes to store all their appliance information like purchase receipts/Warranty info in a couple of taps. It would also provide with actions like contacting appliance customer care (either through phone/mail) or locating the nearest service center and also some customized informative tips and special offers tailored for the user.

Now names like RECOR-D, REMWIND (short for remind and rewind), TRECK (Track your records)were discussed. Each time the group agreed on a name, one of them quickly googled for it to see if the website domain was available. If it were about running a small business like local grocer stores then naming something unique to the local context would have been sufficient and none would care for whether the local store called Chamundeshwari traders or Arafa stores or for that matter the ‘House of Underwear’ (thats depicted in the picture above) existed in two different cities or localities. But an online business that’s more globally available poses a lot of constraints right from domain name availability, copyright, no negative meaning to it, unique name, and potential to become a brand name and probably a verb (like the word google or whatsapp is today). This besides the name explaining what the business is all about and if the name sticks in the consumer’s minds.

After three hours of frantic search, two rounds of cold coffees and multiple breaks later when the group was about to give up, one guy remarked to another, ‘When da’ ( to mean when are we coming up with a name. I am unsure of the exact translation of a tamil ‘Da’. It’s like when the Aussies say mate) And the name stuck as it answered a question ‘when’ da (the) gadgets need ya (you). A slight variant of Whenda is Venda, which in tamil and malayalam meant ‘Don’t’. Later when we floated the idea among family and friends, they were equally divided. One half asked us when are we starting up and other half said ‘don’t startup’ (i.e., Venda). Either ways we heard it as Whenda. Hence it remained, WHENDA.

Today, 2 years since the original consumer app was released, we have pivoted to a B2B Asset Management Software as a Service for Indian Enterprises. But the name has remained as Whenda as it turned out to be sticky in people’s mind. Since then it has acquired a new meaning. WHENDA – Whenda Helps ENterprises Discover&deploy Assets. Kind of a recursive acronym like GNU eh!

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