Leah Busque – How RunMyErrand Became TaskRabbit

Leah Busque

From the always excellent Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series at Stanford, this excerpt from a recent talk by Leah Busque describes how RunMyErrand.com became Taskrabbit.com.

We came up with hundreds and hundreds of names, so many names, it was such a grueling exercise. We had naming parties at our house, an we brought our friends over, and we had pizza and beer, and we’re like,  ‘Come up with names!’.

Click arrow to play audio. Leah Busque – Naming TaskRabbit

Jack Dorsey on Naming Twitter & Square

Jack Dorsey talks with All Things D’s Kara Swisher about inventing Twitter and later, Square

Don’t you love podcasts? Podcasts for me are what I’d always hoped television could be. Whatever your interest, the best of the best are talking about it somewhere. In this case, Jack Dorsey talks with All Things D‘s Kara Swisher about inventing Twitter and later, Square – two giant ideas that are changing the way we see the world. In these excerpts from a great talk at the Commonwealth Club, we hear about the naming process. The takeaway for me is that as genius as Jack is, when it comes to naming, we’re all of us in the same boat. Kara contributes her own ‘domainer’ story as well that will resonate with anyone who’s spent any time in the domainer forums.
Entire interview: YouTube iTunes.

ack-dorsey-kara-swisher-commenwealth-club-5-25-11

(Click arrow to play audio) Naming Twitter
(Click arrow to play audio) Naming Square
(Click arrow to play audio) About Square.com
[Update: Square.com now redirects to SquareUp, so it looks like Jack got the domain.]

 

Re-Branding Walk-Through, Sean Harper of FeeFighters Mixergy Interview

I love Mixergy and Andrew Warner’s interviews. Over the last few years I’ve listened to Andrew interview hundreds of startup entrepreneurs. I’m sharing this particular interview because it’s covers my favorite territory – domains and naming your company. You can find this interview, a transcript, and an audio version at Mixergy.

Sean Harper kept hearing that people didn’t like his company name, which at the time was TransFS.com. They’re a credit card processing price/feature comparison engine that helps you get the best deal for your merchant services. Somewhere around the time Sean heard his father mispronounce the company name, Sean and crew decided to go ahead and begin the painful process of renaming.
If you want to cut directly to the discussion of finding a name and then acquiring the domain, that starts around the 11 min mark. By the 24 min. mark, Sean has acquired the domains and then begins discussing implementing the changeover.

These are my notes. The process Sean describes is helping me formulate a process for an idea I’m working on called CrowdNamer.

FeeFighters.com is a service that helps it’s customers, usually merchants, optimize their credit card processing costs.
Formerly TransFS –Transparent Financial Services
Understanding we had a problem with the name.
They would say things like “How do you spell your name again? What’s your domain name?” Or, “I mentioned you to one of my friends.”
Started keeping track of how often the difficulties around their name came up.
Sean’s father mispronounced the old name.
It was more than a quarter of our customers that were having confusion with our name, when we looked at the data.
“Basically the methodology we followed was one of coming up with lots and lots of ideas and then filtering those ideas according to a methodology. The one we used the most is this methodology called Igor  I-G-O-R, which is a methodology for branding and scoring each name and then keeping a list of the ones that scored the highest.
http://www.igorinternational.com/
Free naming guide:
http://www.igorinternational.com/process/naming-guide-product-company-names.php
I called them Vectors -for naming.
Two word name. One describes, the other more emotional.
A lot of time with the dictionary. Bugged our friends, a lot.
Name brain storm.
Crossword dictionary- synonyms, by number of letters
Paper on the wall, writing all over them, hundreds of names.
Narrowed down in batches.
Ranked them by IGOR
Factors: Memorable, easy to spell, emotional, how close to your value proposition, how descriptive
8 variables.
Y axis all the names they’d thought of
X axis all the criteria
Rank them in a Google spreadsheet, independently of each other
Trying to add an objective framework on top of something fundamentally subjective
Personally loved CostHammer but the rest of the team didn’t like it.
Very exhausting. After a week. All start to sound the same.
Whittled it down to about a dozen names.
Used Survey Monkey to get opinions from friends, advisors etc. using same framework they’d used themselves.
Had people rate 12-15 names by survey with a small section for opinion
Tabulated the numbers.
Scores made clear: best, medium, dogs
Wanted a .com with no hyphen
Weren’t going to pay more than $10k
Some of the names were being used legitimately, some they couldn’t reach the owner,
some owners wanted too much.
Contacting and pricing domains very time consuming, lots of back and forth.
Needed to buy Feefighter.com and Feefighters.com Different owners, took days to contact each.
Ended up paying about $8k total for both names. ($4500 +$3500)
Were very happy (with the price) thought they’d have to go higher.
Had a few names they could have lived with. But going into it, everyone liked FeeFighters.
Had already thought through the whole branding, imaging, process for the top few names.
Sean then goes into details about getting the word out, switching the domain over etc. etc.
Thank you Sean and Andrew for sharing such excellent information.

Will Your Startup Do Better If It’s Easy To Pronounce?

My takeaway is a simple extrapolation: The easier it is to pronounce, spell, and remember your company’s name, the better off you are, especially at launch.

Arming The DonkeysI’m loving all the data coming out of behavioral science. It really does turn out we’re biased towards idiocy. Fortunately, by studying our biases we can keep ourselves from acting on them. A favorite source of fascinating and useful psychological insights is Dan Ariely,  Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University and author of two excellent books, The Upside of Irrationality, and Predictably Irrational. He’s also the host of a podcast series called, Arming the Donkeys. In this excerpt from an interview with Princeton University psychology professor Danny Oppenheimer, they discuss the findings of a study [pdf] where Danny’s team discovered that the difficulty of pronouncing a stock’s name predicted how it would do on its IPO. The area of inquiry is called fluency. Fluency is the property of a person or of a system that delivers information quickly and with expertise.

(Click arrow to play audio) Easy for you to say?

My takeaway is a simple extrapolation: The easier it is to pronounce, spell, and remember your company’s name, the better off you are, especially at launch.