Naming a startup is a difficult task. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that the majority of the great .com domains are gone. Choosing a good name that embodies what you do, creates a real identity and it’s easy to say and spell is a challenge. I’ve faced this challenge several times with Sandbox.com (online fantasy sports), myGeek and then Fetchback. We were especially proud of the brand we built at FetchBack. The name had meaning and a real identity. It was easy to build our marketing around and it attracted clients and employees that were like-minded. It was also a .com; a huge plus in a world where it becomes harder and harder to find a good domain. adhesive.co Our current startup is adhesive.co and it’s in the online ad-tech industry. We chose adhesive because easy to understand when spoken, has a positive meaning and ‘ad’ is a core part of the word. We also liked the tie-in with 3M, a very innovative company. That was the impetus anyways. It’s hard to admit that the name you chose isn’t a good fit. Unfortunately, adhesive.co lacks that soul and identity we’ve had in previous company names. It’s a ‘good’ domain but it’s not great and some even said they hate it. The past year and half we have seen tremendous growth.  Our clients are working together perfectly to create new opportunities and incremental conversions.  By the end of this year, we are expanding the headcount and moving into a brand new office.  Since we are making the move anyways, we decided it was time for a change. We wanted something that builds off the core of what we do. We’re an online advertising co-op and we provide the ability for our clients to pool the consumer data so that members can build advertising campaigns that drive incremental conversions. The process: How We Started We started by reviewing past word lists and creating new root words that might be the core of a good domain. Some of those words included: rise, sprout, thrive, share, spring, flourish, group, and many others. After weeks of batting things back and forth we happened upon Piggyback. For those who are not in our industry, the term is used to describe a technical process on how someone might deliver ‘tags’ to a website. The name immediately brought a smile to our faces. It has an identity and speaks directly to the core of clients helping each another. We thought we had a hit on our hand. While piggyback.com was taken, we could purchase piggybak.com. We decided to purchase it for as a hedge. It was time for us to circulate the name to trusted advisors. The response was good but not great. The misspelling of the name was a concern. The name itself was also in question. Some loved it while others felt it was too ‘soft’ and we would end up with little pink stuffed pigs all over our office. Gavin Hays, CEO of Springboard Healthcare, sent a note asking if we had ever tried crowdsourcing for additional options. The immediate concern was around making our internal process public. He referenced a great article around the subject by Sandi Lin, the CEO of Skilljar. Giving Crowdsourcing an Option We decided to give Squadhelp, a crowdsourcing site for domain names, a chance. We had already invested significant time to the process and another week wouldn’t hurt. We posted our contest brief and a cash prize of $112. All of the entries in the contest have to be domains that are freely available for purchase. We figured it was a small amount of money and we might end with some new blood to the creative process. Within 5 days, we received over 800 options that included 2 strong names; Growspark and Sharebloom. We decided to extend the contest a few more days with some additional direction to our contest brief. A root word that stood out to us during our creative process was ‘hive’. It’s a word that speaks to what we do and sounds great. We asked for some additional creative options around this word. Three days later we had 1125 options from 81 different participants with 16 of those options rating 1 star or more. Hivewyre.com was in this batch of options. Finalizing the Name At this point, we had some viable options and we felt it was important to open up the process to the entire company. Based on input from advisors, we narrowed down the list to Piggybak, ShareBloom and Hivewyre. There were some immediate negative reactions to Piggybak. It was too ‘soft’. We had a great discussion and then asked everyone to do a quick surveymonkey vote. Hivewyre was a clear winner. We love our new name but it doesn’t come without concerns. It’s a challenging word to say over the phone and the misspelling adds to that challenge. We have yet to hear what our clients think but we’re hopeful. We’re excited to start building our identity around ‘the hive’. Thanks to all of those who helped. Sandi Lyn included a few tips on crowdsourcing. Here’s that list along with some additions based on our experience.
  • Don’t use your real company name or personal name. This is something we were concerned about during the process. Thankfully it was not an issue.
  • Provide lots of feedback. Sifting through a lot of options is a challenge and as you would expect names never make the cut. Make sure to rate those that good traits about them, it can provide inspiration and guidance for the contestants.
  • Be careful purchasing domains prior to the contest being over. One of the worst things that can happen is finding a great name and having it registered by someone else. We decided to register one of our potential winners prior to the contest being over. This is a violation of Squadhelp rules. If you decide to register and keep a domain that’s not your winner, you should compensate the contestant.
Hivewyre