Nobody looks at my company’s name, Virtual PreSkool, and thinks, “they must offer Hindi classes for kids online.” I am going to share how I overcame branding with product market fit.
There’s a good reason why my company’s name is Virtual PreSkool. Here’s the short version.(Scroll to the end for the long version).
My original idea was to create a…virtual preschool. After a couple months of hard work and iteration it wasn’t working so I pivoted to Hindi classes for children, online, with a focus on kids growing up outside of South Asia – kids whose first language is English. And I never changed the company name.
Why Didn’t You Change The Company Name When You Pivoted?
Time. I wanted to get an MVP (minimal viable product) out as quickly as possible. As in the day I decided to pivot, I built a one page website and posted it to my personal Facebook page. Changing the branding would have taken time.
Good domain name. Somehow virtualpreskool.com was available and it didn’t cost thousands of dollars. It was/is a good URL that I could leverage.
Impact of a Non-Obvious Company Name?
I found that the company name doesn’t matter. People are interested in the product. No prospect has asked about the name. And once they try a class and like it, the company name matters even less. They want what I offer and are willing to pay for it. And that’s how I overcame branding with product market fit.
Being in a Niche Market Helps
My online Hindi classes for kids address the needs of a specific segment of the overall Indian market. My customers, the people who are serious about teaching Hindi to their kids, don’t care about the company name. They rely on word-of-mouth testimonials and the content I produce. That’s what gets them to register for a trial class.
I’m sure some people (even some of my friends) think my company name is lame but those people are not ever going to buy my product, so who cares what they think?
Solopreneur Problems: Branding vs. Conversion
Last year I was so busy creating content for my lessons that I spent hardly any time on marketing. Over the holidays I decided that I want to make marketing a priority and spent a lot of time figuring out how to make that happen.
Naturally I wondered if it was time to rebrand the company and get ready for this big marketing push. I decided not to. Instead I’m focused solely on conversion.
Branding is sexy and it’s fun. New logos, new name, new website to splash across social media and hear people rah rah – who doesn’t like that? And I do think branding is important. But I asked myself, “is renaming the company, now, going to bring in more clients? Will it bring in the quantity of long term clients to justify the huge amount of time I’ll end up spending on rebranding at the sacrifice of marketing to more people?
I said to myself, “you have product market fit. Doesn’t it make more sense to take that and run with it? Rebrand later once you’ve reached the goal to justify that time and spend”.
Branding is important though. Perhaps I will rename and rebrand at some point, but for now I’ve decided to focus on marketing.
My Journey of Pivoting From Preschool to Hindi Classes
I started Virtual PreSkool in the spring of 2020; a couple months after I was able to get over the impact of COVID-19 on my Indian wedding venue startup, ShaadiShop. By late February it became clear that COVID-19 was not going to be a short term occurrence and since all weddings were put on hold, ShaadiShop came to a standstill.
It took me about 1.5 months to process the milieu of emotions ranging from anger and feeling sorry for myself to putting all of that behind me to move forward.
My friends, many of whom had children age 5 or less, were very stressed about the sudden and huge change in childcare and engagement. There was a swift movement to create online programs for age 6+ but nothing for the younger children. So that’s where I decided to focus my efforts.
I partnered with a preschool teacher from one of the most highly rated public schools in the country and started spreading the word. For about 2 months things were moving forward. We started gaining traction and then the teacher was recalled back to her school full time.
The next month all my time was spent on finding one new teacher but I couldn’t find the right person.
One day, frustrated and tired, I went for a walk and decided that I was going to have to pivot. The idea for Hindi classes just came to me – just popped up in my head. I recalled how, many of my friends would make comments when we’d get together and I’d say funny Hindi phrases or words while playing with their kids. They’d say, “will you teach my kid Hindi?” And they’d ask me how I learned such good Hindi, especially given that I have never lived in India. I was born and raised in the US.
When I got home from my walk I made a 1 page website (skills I learned working on ShaadiShop) and posted it to my personal Facebook page.
There was a lot of interest and here I am 3 years later.
Summary and Take Aways
This article addressed how I overcame branding with product market fit. My company’s name, Virtual PreSkool doesn’t reflect what I do – Hindi classes for children online. I have debated about rebranding – which will take a lot of time and I ultimately decided that it’s not the best use of my time, right now.
We all have limited time and I’m a solopreneur. I don’t have a team of marketers managing my brand, social media, and doing marketing. It’s all on me. And I have specific goals I’m working to achieve. So focused time on things that will get me closer to those goals is the only way I’m going to achieve them. And it’s hard because branding is fun.
I like coming up with names, logos and creating new looks for my website and social media to splash online. It would be fun. But will it get me closer to my goals? I don’t think so.
I also serve a segment of a niche market who want my product and are willing to pay for it. Thus the name company name doesn’t matter to them. Serving their needs does.
Want To Learn Conversational Hindi?
We teach conversational Hindi (no reading, no writing). Our classes are designed for children growing up outside of the Indian Subcontinent. And our classes are fun! Your child will also learn about Indian culture to build connections to relatives and their heritage. Students from across the globe take our classes from the convenience of their living room.
About Samta Aunty
I try to be like the quintessential cool Masi, to all of my students. Smiling, loving, and ALWAYS trying to make them laugh.
Welcome and thank you for joining me today! I set out to create an educational platform for desi children to learn conversational Hindi (no reading, no wriring) and their culture in a fun, no stress, and convenient way. Students across the globe take our classes right from the convenience of their living room!
I learned Hindi at home while growing up in southern California. My parents were amongst the first Indian and South Asian immigrants to this country and I appreciated their efforts and those of the Uncles and Aunty’s that worked hard to foster cultural and religious awareness for us first generation American-born desi kids. Especially when they themselves were establishing their lives in a new country.
And now I’m in a position to continue their work. Language connects people. And for the children I teach I’m helping them connect to their grandparents and other loved ones.