Announcing Our Investment into Namecoach
Dale Carnegie is famous for saying that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
There is certainly truth to this statement. Our names are the first thing our parents give us and they are often the first words our friends and loved ones use to address us. Our names are a personal identifier and they can make us feel special or important. Pronouncing someone's name correctly is a simple way to show that you respect them and their culture. It takes just a few seconds to learn the correct pronunciation, and it can make a big difference in how someone feels about you. On the flip side, mispronouncing someone’s name can show a lack of care and disrespect. About ⅓ of the population have names that many people would consider difficult to pronounce. Although the issue can affect anyone, it is particularly salient for people of color, those of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds, and English language learners. Even if you know how to spell someone's name, it can be difficult to say it correctly without practice. The software promotes a sense of belonging and inclusion across an organization, ensuring diverse prospective employees feel respected from the very first contact with a brand, and helps every interaction with a prospect or customer starts out on the right track.
NameCoach makes it easier to build personal connections by eliminating name mispronunciation, through easy-to-learn audio pronunciations powered by an internationally sourced name pronunciation database, and a tool for users to verify or record their own or others’ pronunciations. It has a database of over 100,000 names from around the world, and it can pronounce any name accurately within seconds. Namecoach is built with a strong focus on AI- it uses an AI system to predict the correct pronunciation when someone’s name has multiple correct pronunciations, based on factors like nationality, ethnicity, gender and location. Another of the platform’s systems synthesizes speech in situations where an audio recording of a name isn’t available.
Why We Invested: Names are important and inclusion is always top of mind at TXV. When it comes to inclusion, it's important to remember that everyone is different. What might be inclusive for one person might not be inclusive for another. This is why it's so important to always take the time to ask someone how they would like to be referred to and how they would like their name pronounced. Names give us an identity and a sense of belonging. They can be a source of pride or a reminder of pain. But no matter what they mean to us, they are integral to our sense of self. Overall, NameCoach is an innovative startup whose focus on accuracy and usability makes it stand out from the competition, and its growing user base confirms its popularity and success.
Team: Praveen Shanberg, Founder & CEO
We were so excited to invest in Praveen - he is one of the most cerebral founders in our portfolio. Praveen completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard in the History of Science, completed Master’s degrees in Physics, Philosophy, and the History of Science at Columbia University and Cambridge University, and completed his Ph. D at Stanford in Philosophy. He also has academic exposure to electrical engineering, linguistics, and computer science. For Praveen, name pronunciation was personal- he was inspired to start NameCoach having seen his sister’s name mispronounced while she was receiving her degree in front of her friends and family. Believing that there was a technological solution to the problem, Praveen set out to build Namecoach - revealing how empowering small acts of empathy is really at the heart of what they are trying to do.
What the Future Holds: Namecoach’s platform works out-of-the-box with services including Microsoft Teams, Outlook and Google Workspace and offers an API and software development kit to let third parties build Namecoach’s functionality into their products. Soon, Nameooach will be offering their first consumer app- a Chrome extension that will enable users in real-time to pronounce names correctly. The vision for Namecoach is ambitious, they are seeking to be the most useful and up-to-date platform for culturally aware communication, allowing users to know that they are showing their counterparts in any interaction the basic respect that we all universally desire. As Namecoach continues to expand the interoperability of its platform, and as more and more people become aware that these types of solutions exist- we expect to see NameCoach become an omnipresent helper: a Grammarly for cultural communication. We look forward to living in the world that NameCoach is helping build!