It is known as the Olympics of spelling bees and going by this year’s Octachamps, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is a platform where only the best of the best compete.
To become one of the elite spellers who get to take home a $50,000 cash prize, it takes hours and hours of dedicated preparation over many years.
Thought a strict regimen, contestants get familiar with most of the 472,000 words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, any of which might be thrown at them.
And to streamline that process, Shobha and Shourav Dasari, have devised an online resource — SpellPundit.
The Dasari siblings, themselves spelling contestants, launched SpellPundit in January last year, which helps participants learn words more quickly and accurately, for an annual fee of $600. Shourav, 16, went up to fourth place in the National Spelling Bee while his 18-year-old sister, heading to Stanford this fall, is a three-time semifinalist.
The usual way to prepare for spelling bees is by manually compiling lists of words from the dictionary, learning them and then getting people, usually family members, to quiz you.
In contrast, SpellPundit offers a couple of advantages, Shourav Sadari says. “It has 99.9 percent of the words that could be asked in the spelling bee which takes a lot of pressure off the spellers because that means they don’t have to go through the entire dictionary, making lists.”
From the first 25 customers who signed up through word-of-mouth marketing, the startup now has over 2,000, according to Usha Dasari, Shobha and Shourav’s mother.Spell-Pundit became popular when clast year’s Scripps winner, Karthik Nemmani, mentioned using it. “After that, business skyrocketed,” Usha said.
It is no surprise then to see that SpellPundit has been launched by members of the very community that has come to be closely associated with spelling bees.