How to name your startup

One of the most difficult initial problem that founders, new or experienced, face is naming their startups (and choosing the best domain name for their website).

Your company name will be the first thing that will come out of your mouth, so having a good name helps. While I personally think names are important, I try not to obsess with them.

The first thing people want to know.

Here are 3 things to remember in picking a name for your startup. I’ve used a quick case study on my startup naming journey with Kiwi.

TIP # 1: Pick a name that’s easy to pronounce, spell, and remember, it can be:

  • a word with 1 to 2 syllables e.g. Zoom, Apple, Kiwi
  • a simple word that you can tie to something that’s been around forever
  • the simplest possible term that describes what your product does (hack: ask kids to describe your product)

KIWI

• considered as a super-food because of its health benefits

• people from New Zealand and viewed as a symbol of pride

• is a word with two syllables, easy to remember and to spell

TIP # 2: Run a first impression test (Not amongst friends if possible)

Even before we came up with “Kiwi”, we’ve decided that we were going to call the company something really simple, preferably a word that people already understand without having to translate or google its meaning.

So after shortlisting five names we liked (I wanted to call the company Keenu, which is a mandarin)

Kinnow - Wikipedia
kinnow or keenu == کینو

We set up a google form, surveyed over a thousand people on what they think would be a good company name, without sharing any info about the product that we were building. Overwhelmingly, “Kiwi” won.

Since then its become a good tool to consider when naming a company

Hack: Dont give any more context. Just ask “Which name do you like better?”

Here is an example of what you might get:

sample survey result
From a recent survey for a founder’s new company; still in stealth

TIP # 3: Don’t fall into the short domain name trap

People visiting your website would prefer a name thats easy to read and pronounce.

In comparing these two domains: http://www.threekeywords.com and http://www.ngjk.com, it’s clear that shorter domains are not necessarily better.

It is important to the understand that short can be classified in different ways and not all domains can be measured the same.

.com is still the way to go

According to the data from Domain Name Stat, 37% of all domains have the “.com” extension. While more and more startups are using newer trendy domain extensions like .io, .so, .us, .sh, I’d still recommend using .com

It’s the most familiar and the easiest to remember so when you tell people about your company, they will most likely assume that your website is www.yourcompanyname.com.

But why is Kiwi’s website not kiwi.com?

Good catch. Because kiwi.com was already taken then. We tried kiwiwearables.com but we thought we’d go with something simpler, and shorter => kiwi.ai

A lot of people, when they come across a term that might potentially be a good company name, they just buy the .com domain name (if it’s available) immediately. You can check for domain availability and even generate a business name on https://instantdomainsearch.com/. Enter a keyword that relates to your product, and you’ll be offered all the available domains you can take.

There’s actually no formula in creating a great business name. There will just come a time in your building journey when you realize that this is it, this is what I’m going to call my company, since it represents everything about it.

Everything starts with the name

Leave a Reply