Sometime last year we wrote about Webnames, a new online domain registry service that had entered the market with the cheapest service. These were the guys behind hosting service uHostAfrica.
With services priced at $5 for each domain, Webnames gave existing providers like Google and name.co.zw a run for their money. We even saw promotions from name.co.zw which looked like they were partly influenced by the presence of this new competitor.
Now that it’s a new year it looks like Webnames is back again, only this time it’s with a free web hosting package for students. It is being extended to students because it is meant to help young entrepreneurs in marketing their products.
Each package comes with one year free hosting and a host (pardon the pun) of freebies that include 5 email accounts, unlimited sub-domains and 5 FTP accounts. You can read more about this package in the press release here. ( Webnames offers free student hosting)
Beyond all these frills this sounds like an awesome initiative to get a lot of young people to explore the opportunities that come with having an online presence.
Its a positive way to allow for the development of tech entrepreneurship in the younger generation. There is, after all, a lot that can be explored in terms of startups and online businesses that comes from being an active part of the internet.
However most people familiar with Webnames are probably wondering if these guys can be trusted this time around. We got a lot of unsavoury feedback from users who had bought domains from Webnames and were less than impressed with their service.
There were complaints about domains that were paid for and never registered, silence from the domain registration startup when issues were raised via email, and shortage of contact details when customers wanted to raise issues to do with service. All this painted the impression that this startup has been operating in a dishonest way.
What most customers would probably want to know is If the quality of service was questionable last year (when it was being paid for) will it be any better this time around, even more so when its free?
According to Munyaradzi Mtake, the team lead at Webnames, a lot of the challenges they were encountering last year have been rectified with an improved customer response system. Towards the end of the year they updated their systems, something highlighted in an announcement on their website.
I think there is a lesson to be learnt here for any startups, especially the students that are meant to be roped into tech entrepreneurship by this new Webnames offer.
Good startup solutions that solve a pain in the market are always welcome in the environment and Webnames has come in to do that. However, a startup has to respond to customer feedback and deliver on promises. Impressions matter a lot in business, especially startups. It doesn’t matter how great the solution or initiative is, honesty and responsiveness are crucial.