Adithya Ramanathan

CTO, Founder

Building Buzzle

Naming Your Company

March 21, 2022

Hard learned lessons from a badly named company...

Often, investors asked an incredibly important question, “What have you learned so far?”...

The question made a lot of sense. We were (are) recent Y-Combinator graduates, arguably the most successful startup educator in the world, and as first time founders the lessons learned were inumerable, plentiful and constant.

Other founders may have had a hard time picking from their long list of learnings, but for us, it was easy. After a summer of “How do you pronounce your company name?”, “Is it pronounced ‘candai’? “, etc. the answer came easily...

Our number one lesson learned: Don’t include an ampersand in your company name!

Why is an ampersand a bad idea?

For some, the answer may be obvious. But talking back to the other young Bhairavs, Adithyas and Michaels out there, naming their company, here’s why you should keep an ampersand (or any symbol for that matter) out of your company name:

Your website domain:

Your website, which is often your first impression to the world is typically a self-guided tour for prospects, investors, partners and future employees. The simple matter is that symbols are disallowed in website domains. We leveraged "www.qandai.org" for months, and due to the fact that we had to spell out the symbol, customers often arrived on calls with no idea how to actually pronounce our company name.

Legal Filings:

Like a website, symbols are disallowed in most legal documents. Life is just a lot more straightforward when you don’t have to remember if you’re legally registered as "x&y industries" vs "xandy industries".

We loved q&ai. It encompassed a lot of our early beliefs in bringing AI driven value in this space. Stakeholders needed a way to ask questions of this really complicated data source (recorded sales conversations) and AI was the conduit that we knew could empower and enable them. But the time had come for a new name...

Finding the right name

As we built out the search party and began constructing a new brand and a new identity for our company, we poured over resources to make a far more educated choice. Here’s a short summary of the lessons we learned on this journey:

Domain Availability as your guide

In our internet guided world, and especially in the world of software building, the single most important guiding light must be domain availability. Optimizing for a clean and memorable web domain is crucial to successful brand building.

Any idea for a company name was virtually immediately met with a corresponding Namecheap (or any domain registrar) search - there’s no point getting attached to a company name if the web domain isn’t available!

Why is your web domain so important you may ask? For most software companies, our websites are the entry point for virtually every customer, investor or employee. The relationship may have begun via cold outreach or a network recommendation, but everyone eventually lands on your web domain. And at that point, every part of your landing page matters, chief among them the website domain itself.

Obvious to spell & obvious to say.

Pretty obvious why this is important right? Either way, we’ll spell it out for you.

Our biggest takeaway from having a badly named company is that it’s an uncontrollable first impression. You’re not in the room, most of the time, when a potential user or customer hears your company name, and as a result, lose the ability to control any of the associated narrative. Therefore, the obviousness of your company name is the easiest way to control this uncontrollable part of the narrative.

Word Safety

You can’t be there to guide your users every time they stumble onto your domain, or your website. As a result your website name has to be able to stand alone - safely. One of the easiest, (and most important) steps of your naming process is to validate the safety of your company name, specifically checking for accidental second meanings in other languages, or even accidental second meanings in the same language. For example, take the poorly named Chevrolet Nova - the average, native English speaker may see no issues with that car name, but for a Spanish speaker, a car named Chevrolet “Doesn’t Go” is rather counterintuitive...

There are several great tools to help you with this - our tool of choice was this one!

Okay, so what did you do?

So, with all of this research, we must have found a new company name, right?

Introducing...

As we thought about what we do, and the emotions we wanted to convey, we loved this idea of “Capturing the buzz”. There’s so much quality data and signal out there - there’s a buzz in the air of every single one of your customer conversations. You just need a little AI help to get to it. Let buzzle.ai help you capture the buzz.

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