I was surprised to discover that Bill Gross was the original brainchild behind .TV!
I spent much of today listening to and learning about Bill Gross, the founder of IdeaLab. Take a look at the list of companies Bill has had a major part in. It’s actually scary how much he’s accomplished! Also very inspring to see how excited he is about eSolar and the potential this company has to change the world. The Stanford talk (audio) (video) is presented as a lecture followed by Q&A. You’ll hear some of his history, especially early history, but then much of his philosophy around building companies. Especially interesting to me was his description of a great team: E for entrepreneur, P for producer, A for administrator and I for integrator. The notion of a team needing a good integrator (someone who enables communication between the team) is not something I’ve heard anywhere else and Bill feels having one is essential.
I also listened to the always excellent Mark Suster, This Week In Venture Capital interview with Bill (audio) (video). Here Bill, at Mark’s encouragement, talks in detail about the evolution of his career and the many successful companies he’s created. I was surprised to discover that Bill Gross was the original brainchild behind .TV!
(Click arrow to play audio) Bill Gross on the idea of Dot TV.
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.