The Gray Hair Speaketh

Advice that is largely Unsolicited.. – an excellent destination for vocabulary improvement

Amit Aggarwal, the founder, asked me to review his startup,

Mnemonic Dictionary

Mnemonic Dictionary

Category: B2C -> Education -> Vocabulary

What does it do? is an excellent source for all kinds of fun and learning, with and around words. It is a destination to expand your vocabulary, play word games, take quizzes, etc. In short, is quite a complete, one place destination for any word lover and words learner!

What more? features a word of the day, for those who want to enhance their vocabulary gradually. It also has word lists for people working towards competitive exams like GRE, GMAT etc. The site exploits the various features of community by having an active forum, chat rooms, via email and also an active presence on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
For revenues, there are advertisements and affiliate relationships across the site.

*** Addendum ***

Amit pointed out to me a very interesting USP that MnemonicDictionary offers, in regards to remembering new words, viz. the concept of mnemonics.

For example:

  • Onus (meaning: burden)
    Mnemonic — ON-US you are ON US ie. you are burden to me,


  • Caulk , which means ‘to make watertight’ can be broken as follows:
    Mnemonic — caulk sounds like cork which makes bottles watertight

*** End of addendum ***

My quick two cents: is positioned very well in its area, and does most things right. In terms of exploiting the various options to an ideal web business, the site is doing nearly all that it can do. The challenge may just come in creating larger revenue base. If currently, the business is running at a low cost with a small team, they are probably well poised to make money. Some out-of-the-box thinking will be necessary however, to aim for large revenues.

Wisdom Nuggets in more detail:
1. There is genuinely not a lot to fix at a fundamental level, in Indeed, I am very pleased with the entire execution of the business. So the first thing that I would simply suggest is to hold it nice and tight, and keep up the good work.

2. Vocabulary building, for a common person, is a fun thing to do, for a few minutes a day, at most. So for the large user base, this is where the engagement with MnemonicDictionary will saturate. Can MD find a way to engage with such users beyond the few minutes a day, that they take, to learn a new word? This is where the thought juices must flow.

3. Of course, there are those who are working their way towards some competitive tests. For them, there is indeed a larger engagement possible at MD. And they will spend more time doing word lists or taking small tests. In these cases, MD still does not deliver a complete solution for these students. Thus the student may be still using other training forums / classes and will be coming here, only for additional support or tests. If MD can offer full fledged and complete training and testing environments for tests like GRE, TOEFL, GMAT etc., then they can secure a larger lock-in over this user base.

4. Due to the briefer engagement with the larger mass user base, and an inadequate lock-in with the students working on competitive exams, the revenues may not be large or consistent. Since they are restricted to advertising models only. An opportunity exists in introducing (as mentioned above) full fledged training and testing models, and convert the service into a freemium model, rather than keeping it totally free for the users.

5. If there is an opportunity to become a value-added-partner or even a white-labeled partner with established testing service providers like Princeton Review and Kaplan, involved in competitive tests, that may generate good additional traction, in terms of revenues.

6. The other time that a lot of language skills are learned by people, are during immigration to western countries. Here again, the opportunity could be, to develop training and testing modules for immigration related language skills, and increase earning potential for the site.

7. Overall, there is indeed, a huge demand, at least in countries like India, for English language skills. Notwithstanding current downturn, there is a basic irony – of large scale unemployment in tier 2, tier 3 towns, on the one hand, and a large demand of good English language skilled persons, amongst BPOs, call centers and the like. This gap points to a single and simple factor – English language skills. Due to lack of good teachers, who can travel to these small centers and teach English there, this gap remains. Can MD create a remote delivery model, for teaching English? This may be an ambitious leap from where they are, but can then create a significant opportunity for jumping the scale of the business.

8. The other option for jumping scale would also be, to create a proper English learning platform for people of other native mother tongues. Be it the many Indian language native speakers or even say, Chinese persons. Having covered the one side of the puzzle, namely the English language part of it, if MD can invest in the native language side, one language at a time, then they can present “learning English for Hindi speaking people” or offerings of that kind.

9. Lastly, there is a big opportunity also in learning how to SPEAK the language. With audio-video becoming common place on the Internet, if MD can find ways to deliver language skills, also via audio and video media, then the users can also learn pronounciation and spoken English.

In summary, I can state that is on a good foundation, and if they decide their larger focus well, and work towards it, they can become a sizeable and very successful business.


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March 18, 2009 - Posted by | Education - Vocabulary, Social Networking, Startup | , , , , , ,


  1. […] – an excellent destination for vocabulary … […]

    Pingback by - an excellent destination for vocabulary … | | March 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. Sanjay, thanks a lot for reviewing our startup and your valuable suggestions !!

    Comment by Amit Aggarwal | March 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

    Comment by wonker | March 19, 2009 | Reply

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