Q: Why not step 1? A: Because then you never get to step 2!
For any of you who have named a company, particularly in today’s internet world where you also need a URL, it’s a never-ending loop that tends to get more frustrating with more time and more people. Never tried it? Imagine naming a child but you need to avoid naming your child the same name as any other person alive, get the URL, and make sure you avoid any trademark battle. YIKES!
Yes, you can cut words and jam letters together, but it’s not that easy to create new names that that look good, sound good, avoid phonetic problems, and/or negative meanings in other languages (remember Chevy ‘Nova’ cars?).
Note to self, if a computer robot can learn to master chess, poker and a million other things, maybe I should build a computer robot that can take a 140-character tweet and pop out genius company names with an available domain name and trademark.
But the good news is, that in most cases, you can delay naming your company until later…step 67.
In the early days, we called it “Procurement Data Co-op.” And our first round of naming started. I won’t run through all the variations. But the funniest thing happened when someone working with our team dropped his phone with half a dozen ‘domain names’ in his shopping basket, and the drop actually purchased the domains. ? Yes, there was some discussion about maybe just using one of the ‘drop’ domain names.
About a year ago, a key advisor suggested that I needed to be able to write a ‘tweet’ that clearly described what our company was doing. I had a one-page executive summary but cutting that down to less than 140 characters was a real challenge. The next time we connected I proudly showed him my ‘tweet.’ After reading it, he said. “This is too long. You need to be able to put it on a t-shirt and have everyone know your vision.” SERIOUSLY? So, the exhausting work started again.
Roll the clock forward a few months weeks, and I had whittled it down to 4 words; ‘less friction – more business.’ That went nicely with our stealth name as ‘Project Graphite.’ I have made several ‘pinewood derby’ cars over the years and graphite power was the final effort to reduce friction and speed up the cars. The more we used ‘Project Graphite,’ the more we liked it. Eventually we trimmed project and became Graphite. Which of course was already used, so we settled on Graphite Systems Inc. and incorporated in Delaware!
Interesting side story >> I paid goDaddy the $80 to try to broker a deal to buy graphite.com. I had to enter the price I was willing to pay. I put $500-$5,000 to which they responded that I should be offering $100K plus. Seriously? We’re a small startup. Anyway, they failed to track down the owner and make any progress. My partner has a friend in Albuquerque New Mexico that he asked to drop by the address listed on the legacy graphite.com website. His friend learned that someone had purchased the domain from them for $40K in the previous 2 weeks. I still suspect shenanigans at goDaddy as our interest alerted someone to the opportunity to buy an orphaned domain and resell it. The domain went up for sale and is now being used by another company. I’d guess they paid $50K plus. Maybe even as high as the $100K that was suggested. Yikes.
Big thanks to my friend Par who pushed me through the process to move from 1 page, to 140 characters, to 4 words. Less friction, more business! That truly describes our vison for how Business should work. Looking back, it feels like a “wax-on… wax off” Karate Kid type experience. I didn’t fully appreciate the process, but thanks to my own Mr. Miyagi, the end result is truly amazing. We’ve got a great name along with clear and simple ways to communicate what we do.
Let’s stop wasting our time on friction and get on with business. Join the Graphite revolution!