This is the first article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of ..duo, a startup based out of Kelowna B.C. that creates simple keywords that use your name, brand, slogan or any other word combination as a shortcut to content on the Web.

By Alexandra Reid 

Our Francis Moran first met ..duo cofounder Daylin Mantyka while on Startup Canada volunteer duty at Accelerate Okanagan’s Jump:Start:Challenge, a pitch competition for technology companies and entrepreneurs. He was one of the judges who selected Daylin as a top entrant who would receive as a prize eight weeks of expert training, coaching and mentorship to improve her pitch and increase her chances of raising capital.

It was Daylin’s first pitch ever, and, while she had struggled to communicate this idea in the past, she felt she translated it perfectly at Jump:Start.

“It’s a simple concept, but it’s entirely new,” she said.

When asked on the phone what ..duo is all about, Daylin opted to first explain what it is not about.

“We’re not like a Web address that can be lengthy and difficult to remember and pass around in conversations, and we’re not like QR codes with which most people have a love-hate relationship,” said Daylin.

So, what is ..duo?

“We are a service that lets you use simple keywords that relate your name, brand, slogan or any other word combination as a shortcut to content on the Web,” she said.

..duo is essentially an inexpensive, simple and entirely customizable alternative to QR codes, making digital addresses easier to say, write, spread and remember. Companies can switch up the content linked to their ..duo, simplifying promotional campaigns and helping them maintain consistent branding. It has many applications, both online and offline, and can be used nearly anywhere to attract audiences to digital content.

“QR code scanning is on the rise, but it’s not perfect. Companies are investing in vanity URLs, and mobile is on top of everyone’s minds. We’re hoping to tap into the potential of this market,” said Daylin.

The company’s advantage lies in QR codes’ disadvantages.

  • It replaces the black and white checkerboard with a brandable keyword or phrase.
  • Its typed keywords overcome the long distance obstacle of awkwardly trying to scan a QR code.
  • It takes up less real estate than QR codes in advertisements.
  • It can be shared and remembered more easily in conversation and in consumer-facing materials.

“As we become ever-saturated in digital content, it’s important for brands to find unique ways to connect with their consumers digitally,” said Daylin. “To cut through the clutter, they need to provide a direct link to meaningful, memorable and shareable Web and mobile content, like videos, sign-up pages, Facebook campaigns, or featured blog posts. ..duo helps people discover content by directly linking them to their final destination.”

Those weird little dots

To bridge the divide, Daylin and her team have developed an entirely new way to search online.

“The ‘..’ or ‘dotdot’ of ..duo comes from the syntax that we decided to use to identify our keywords as ‘linkable content.’ For example, I used ‘..StartupCanada..’ within my pitch. Seeing those dots that ‘hug’ the selected terms indicates that the language inside of the dots corresponds to additional online content,” said Daylin.

The immediate challenges

Incorporated in August this year, the entirely bootstrapped ..duo is only just entering the startup world. Neither of the founders have backgrounds in business or technology; Daylin completed her masters degree in biology in April 2010 and cofounder Barry McDaid is a pilot. Fortunately, Barry has taught himself enough code to make a prototype and communicate with developers, but had to hire out the rest of ..duo’s work.

“Neither of us are technology whizzes,” said Daylin. “We’re contracting out some of the work and we’ve brought on a few other people to help us out.”

Those recruited include mainly family and friends. An old university colleague developed the software behind ..duo, Daylin’s younger brother is helping out on the content marketing side of things, and Barry’s older brother helped with the design and graphics of the Web site.

“We’re just getting started and things are moving forward okay,” said Daylin. “We’re still determining the best course of action for the development and promotion of ..duo.”

Hopes for the future

While users can only search ..duos on the ..duo website right now, Daylin and her team envision ..duos being searched by text, voice and optical character recognition on applications, major browsers, search engines and Web sites. They’re currently looking for partners to help develop cross-platform solutions.

We’ll check in with ..duo over the coming months to learn more about the team’s progress and capture valuable lessons for all startups going through the process of bringing their technology to market.

(Alexandra Reid is a content marketer at Francis Moran and Associates.)

Francis Moran and Associates is an associated team of seasoned practitioners of a number of different marketing disciplines, all of whom share a passion for technology and a proven record of driving revenue growth in markets across the globe. We work with B2B technology companies of all sizes and at every life stage and can engage as individuals or as a full team to provide quick counsel, a complete marketing strategy or the ongoing hands-on input of a virtual chief marketing officer. 

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