This past weekend I participated in Startup Weekend Seattle, an amazing event where folks interested in entrepreneurship team up to launch a new business from idea to startup within 54 hours. I intend to summarize the experience in a subsequent post, but one task was to come up with a name for our fledgling service. The main criterion? Could we find a suitable domain name for less than $10. Take it from me, that is no trivial task. (We ultimately settled on MobVoice, a less than satisfactory but nevertheless convenient solution “for the moment.”)
That’s partly why I found Monday’s blog post to OnStartup.com to be particularly interesting. It describes a process that the founders of “Pixily” used to rename their business to OfficeDrop. It is a good and worthy read (be sure to read the comments, too) for anybody who is aiming to do the same. But interestingly the post glosses over the one factor that seemed to block our every turn during Startup Weekend Seattle: a suitable domain. I suppose that is the difference between being able to pick up a domain for practically free and being able to pony up a few thousand dollars (or significantly more) and pay the going ransom to cyber squatters.
The lesson learned? Conventional wisdom suggests that you’re supposed to conceive of your brand before you get too far along and invest too much in a name. I might suggest instead that you not worry too much about finding the one-and-only right name when your capital is short and your needs are long. You would be better off focusing on launching a rock-solid service and then be ready to rename it when marketing becomes imperative and funds become available. The solutions open to you with additional resources is so much greater, both in terms of conceiving the name itself and buying just the right domain to match.