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Naming Your Company – A Venture Capitalist Tells You How

TWiVC-04-Mark-Suster-Dave-Travers-Mike-Bracco

Mark Suster is a 2x entrepreneur turned Venture Capitalist. He joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner after selling his company to Salesforce.com. He focuses on early-stage technology companies. He is also the host of This Week In Venture Capital, a new show on Jason Calacanis’s ThisWeekIn.com network of web shows. In the chat room recently I had the opportunity to post a question both he and his guest, fellow VC, David Travers spent a few minutes answering.

(Click arrow to play audio clip) Naming your company.

1. Choose a name that doesn’t box you into a corner. (i.e. As a startup your focus may change over time.)
2. Make sure your website matches your company name.
3. Is your name pronounceable in other languages.
4. Don’t pick a name that sounds like bunch of other companies, ie. don’t use the word ‘blue’ or ‘labs’ or ‘360’. (Or a word that ends with ‘ly’)
5. It does take some capital but for $10-15k (a lot of money for company with no funding, but once you’ve raised a little bit of seed capital) you can get a reasonable name.
6. The money you save marketing an easy to remember name will more than make up for the $10-15k you spend to buy the name.
7, If you’re using the hyphenated or the not exact match domain, expecting to purchase the parked version you really want later on, remember that the price will be correlated to your success.
8. You can make a deal with the domain owner. $5k plus 2% of the company.  Or a payment stream tied to success with installments towards an agreed upon price in the future. If you don’t pay the agreed upon amount by a certain time, the domain remains the sellers. Get creative.

Especially interesting to me is the idea of not naming your company too tightly around the focus of your initial startup intentions. I really like a name that is a close fit with a company’s product or service. It makes marketing easier and less expensive. Also it’s been shown that online ad campaigns are much more effective when the company/url matches what the person was searching for. Mark uses the example of a company he’s working with who purchased Bedrock.com. They also discuss the name WildFire.com. These are great names with obvious metaphoric significance that lend themselves to branding but also leave enough room for the company to shift focus if need be.

3 Comments

  1. Mark Suster wrote:

    Great summary, thank you. You sorta proved my point. Wildfire Interactive’s website is http://www.wildfireapp.com not http://www.wildfire.com … WTF?

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  2. Roberta wrote:

    Awesome recap!

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  3. John wrote:

    Missed that. Exactly! Wildfire.com doesn’t resolve. It’s owned by someone in the UK. Would be an interesting test case for negotiating a deal. But perhaps that’s ongoing and I wouldn’t want to put myself in the middle of someone else’s business. That’s is exactly where I’m heading though. Happy to do the research, market valuation, and initial reach-out for any company looking to acquire a domain name.

    Hi Roberta! Thanks for stopping by. See you in the ThisWeekIn.com chat.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

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