DALLAS — Dealz? Too limiting.
Blinqq? Nixed by lawyers on potential trademark issues.
Dallas entrepreneur Jack Wrigley and his partner, John Phan, tossed out a dozen names before they found the ideal one for their startup.
It’s called Qwiqq: A mobile commerce app that allows merchants and consumers to easily share a product across various social platforms.
The name is intended to convey the quick nature of the app. Plus, the two entrepreneurs liked the look of the double q’s.
“We wanted it to be playful," Wrigley said. “You want it to be sort of memorable and something that’s preferably a single syllable that’s easy to say."
From mashing up two words (Groupon) to misspelling one (Flickr) to making up monikers (Plaxo), entrepreneurs seek inspirations of all kinds to find the perfect name for their startups. One thing is clear: Picking a name is an important task for entrepreneurs in a brand-focused, social world.
“Your brand building starts on Day 1," said Tina Young, president of MarketWave, a branding and marketing firm in Dallas.
“I started my business 14 years ago, and I was thinking about my service mix and how I was going to gain my first customer, (but) you can’t forget the name in the midst of all of that."
Marketing and entrepreneurship experts say a name won’t break a new business venture or necessarily deter investors from putting up capital as long as the underlying business model is sound.
Still, it doesn’t make marketing or fundraising any easier for a young company if the name becomes a distraction.
“Picking a wrong name for the company won’t kill your chance of being successful, but it won’t help it," said Trey Bowles, a serial entrepreneur and co-chairman of Startup DFW, the local chapter of a nationwide initiative to drive entrepreneurship.
Bowles knows it firsthand.
He named his first company Daedalus Consultants after the Greek mythological innovator known for fabricating wings out of feather and wax. The concept was that the consulting company would help companies integrate online and offline channels, or “we’d fashion your own pair of wings," so to speak, Bowles said. The name backfired when some people pronounced it “data-less."
“We tried to make something extremely fancy and tried to tell his amazing story, which you can’t do in a one-sentence elevator pitch," he said. “We ended up constantly defending our name."
Bowles advises startups to keep names simple and avoid creating a new word in hopes of creating a brand around it. Ideally, a name should convey what a company does. Whether a domain name is available can also act as a guide. One of his later ventures was called GodTube, a video sharing site, a nod to YouTube but with a Christian bent.
On the other hand, having a memorable or clever name for a company doesn’t guarantee success, either. As David Lei, associate professor of management and organizations at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, put it: “Even if you have a great name, is it a market that’s durable?"
Carrie Layne saw an opening for a mobile and social app that scans QR codes to reward consumers with deals and offers while creating buzz around a local merchant. Thus, BestBuzz was born.
“It’s important that your brand, your name reflect the action or the message about the product that you want people to take away," Layne said.
The startup is trying to use its name to build a brand around QR codes. Instead of scanning a QR code, for instance, Layne and her small staff tell clients and consumers to buzz in. When a client uses the app, the phone buzzes as well as says buzz.
In many cases, fine tuning is involved, resulting in a new name. Take the startup Socialyzer, a social media optimization engine that began as Queued.at. Founder Bradley Joyce said the first name reflected the startup’s early platform, which allowed people to “queue up" social media content throughout the day.
As the platform evolved from a scheduling system to one that involved analysis to predict the perfect time to post social media content, so did its name, Joyce said. Socialyzer marries social content with analysis. The new name “clicked with people a lot faster," Joyce said.
When Koupon Media Inc., which provides mobile coupons and analytics services, was founded in 2011, it was known as mComm360, short for mobile commerce with the 360 intended to reflect the full scope of its digital coupon offerings. Co-founder T.J. Person quickly realized the startup’s original name did not convey its brand or what it did, at least without some explanation.
“We spent a fair amount of time, maybe too much time, on explaining what the name was," said Person, whose 32-person company raised $6.5 million in the past 10 months. “When we changed to Koupon Media, it was very clear what we did right off the bat."
In brainstorming for a new name, Person had a few criteria. He wanted to use some variation of coupon and to find a good URL. Spelling coupon with a “k" made sense to him because he traveled frequently to Japan when he worked at electronics maker Samsung. There, the English derivative of coupon is spelled with a “k."
“There are a lot of made-up names that people have created," he said. “But I think if you could relate (a name) to the value you’re offering, I think it’s just that much easier to break through some of the noise."