Founded in 2017 by Vikas Garg, abillion is a rapidly growing social commerce platform designed to help people and businesses around the world be more sustainable. We talk with Vikas Garg, Founder and CEO of abillion, about the origin of their brand name, why they picked abillion.com as a domain, and what is new and exciting in their future plans.
Why abillion? What do you do and how does your brand name fit into it?
After working for my whole life in finance, I was in my mid 30’s and wanted to start something of my own. I thought about starting something in finance—it was what I was familiar with—but I didn’t see myself working in the sector for the next 30 years. That’s when I realised I wanted to align my passion for veganism and animal welfare with my career. I wanted to give back to society, and at the same time cultivate a business idea that could guide people to live more sustainably and to make giving to charities habitual. I set about developing abillion with a vision to leverage technology as an instrument to impact positive social change.
As a CEO, I lead all teams, providing strategic and operational direction. I set the vision of the organisation and keep everyone on mission. I also head all the fundraising, investor relations, finance and product development for the business.
The name abillion refers to a wish that I have that through this company, we can help a abillion people live more sustainably, that we can channel a billion dollars of donations to good causes, and that we can save billions of animal lives.
What was the process of selecting a brand name like? When did you know this was the one?
When we first started in 2018, we called ourselves abillionveg as the platform was focused on reviewing vegan dishes in restaurants. Over time, our members started posting reviews of plant-based and cruelty-free products. Then, as our membership grew, we discovered that many members weren’t vegan or vegetarian but people interested in sustainability as a whole. In fact, today, 65% of our members identify as flexitarians or omnivores.
In 2020, I knew I had to adjust the company’s name to be more inclusive and resonate with everyone who is concerned about sustainability. Along with the name change, we also changed our logo. The abillion logo incorporates the image of 10 to the power of 9 which reflects the vision of a billion people committing to live sustainably. It also represents the exponential growth of our community, both members and brands in the plant-based and sustainability spaces. The logo also resembles a speech mark which represents the conversations, stories and connections that take place on the platform. Another key factor of the logo is its similarity to that of a location pin drop and speech mark to show that our community can post, review and share from all over the world.
What was the reason to get the domain name abillion.com for your brand?
As a tech company, it was important that the brand also work well as a URL. I think abillion sounds great, is memorable, and really represents our vision. Similarly, abillion.com is very easy to remember and is straightforward. It’s the name of the company and our core product.
How has owning abillion.com affected your business? Do you own any other domain names?
We only have abillion.com as a domain name.
If you could have any domain name in the world would you still pick abillion.com?
Yes, of course. abillion as a platform and a name is an ideology that we can catalyse a billion people into doing something good for the planet, animals and their respective health. That said, I wouldn’t mind owning a few other related URLs, like vegan.com or give.com. Because giving back and being vegan are at the heart of this business.
How has abillion evolved as a brand since you launched?
It gives me immense pride to witness the community engagement on our app. It is inclusive, positive and socially driven. I also take pride in the fact that we support over 60 impactful organisations and causes through our giving program. We have donated over $1,000,000 to our nonprofit partners. I believe we have succeeded in creating a social media platform for sustainability and social impact.
We started small like any other tech startup today. We are growing and are present in 160 countries around the world. Our app has been downloaded more than 1 million times. We have people from across the globe making small changes in their diet and lifestyle and are sharing about their experiences on our app.
We are also working on launching a marketplace this year. We have reviews of 140,000 brands on our platform. We notify every single business when a user posts a review of one of their products or dishes. We believe that we are the best and most direct resource for consumer reviews in the ethical, plant-based market. The evolution of the platform is to allow brands, as well as members, to be able to sell products directly through our app and website.
How do you value your brand?
Brand value is always a tricky thing. No matter how cool a brand name is, if it does not resonate with customers, then it doesn’t work. We’re still a new brand. But as I said above, our app has been downloaded over a million times and our growth really is exponential. Most importantly, the more people use us, the more people we are helping to live better. Our goal is ultimately to help build a vegan world, a world in which caring for animals, the planet and each other is normal. We hope our brand becomes synonymous with sustainability, that every time someone eats something vegan or picks up a pair of sustainable sneakers or is about to apply some cruelty-free makeup, they think of us. Then we will have imbued our brand with real value.
Has the pandemic affected your company in any way? What has changed since?
Like many businesses that were affected during the pandemic, our business had its own challenges. As an up and coming startup, I like to see my team working in the office. The atmosphere in the office is infectious, fun and happening, so I enjoy working in the office and having my team work along with me. But during the pandemic, most of us were confined to our homes, hooked to our laptop screens. I just missed that physical vibe and buzz that is part of startup life. But it’s just part of the process. We have to ensure our employees are safe.
In terms of business, we missed out on a lot of conferences, events and outreach programs. However, during the pandemic, we were able to expand our team and hire experienced and talented staff to grow the business. We went from 20 staff members to 40.
What do you do to make sure your marketing is effective?
abillion is unique. A lot of companies pour millions into marketing strategies. We, on the other hand, would rather donate to impactful nonprofits who are striving to make the world a better place. We give every member US$1 in what we call donation credits for every review that they create on abillion. They can the decide who, among our non-profit partners, to give that money too. We hope that generates good word of mouth to help us grow. So far, so good. And so many of our members are engaged activists who are campaigning so passionately for animal welfare, climate change and other worthy causes.
What would your advice be to entrepreneurs who are just starting out, in general, and when it comes to branding and naming?
Businesses often go through a lot of changes based on where they are located, what services they offer and even their target audience. It’s important to understand the core value of why you started your company and pick a name that’s unique to your values and, most importantly, resonates with your audience. A brand name should have a long lasting impact on the work you do and for your audience.
It’s important to understand the core value of why you started your company and pick a name that’s unique to your values and, most importantly, resonates with your audience.
Vikas Garg – Founder & CEO, abillion
What is next for abillion?
We’ve realised that we aren’t just servicing a vegan community but a global community of conscious consumers and we are rapidly evolving to better serve them.
Our mission, from day one, has been to guide one billion people to adopt a plant-based lifestyle by 2030 and to be a leading sponsor of animal welfare, rescue and advocacy work globally. We are just finding many new ways to achieve these goals.
We are a global community that catalyzes people and businesses to do what’s right for the planet. We want to be the world’s largest social media platform for sustainability. We want to become a toolkit for the next generation of entrepreneurs and business owners, who prioritise plant-based offerings more. We will be launching our marketplace that will enable consumers to buy and brands to sell products directly from our platform.
Last thing, if some of our readers have more questions. Where can they reach you online?
Sure. They can reach me on abillion app with username Vikas Garg or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org