I was at a CEO Space event in Las Vegas Nevada several years ago when young guy next to me named Jeromi showed me the FlossSticker product he was about to pitch to investors. It was two sticks with floss down the middle. Jerome had 1 minute to go before his pitch. I asked Jeromi if I could hold the product for a second. I spun them around like a martial arts weapon. That’s when it occurred to me that this product looked like Num Chucks, and I innocently stated why don’t you call them “Gum Chucks”. I did a 15 second check on Whois.net to make sure that domain was available. Jeromi looked at me. Then I got serious and in a deeper voice said, “YOU NEED TO RENAME THESE GUMCHUCKS!”
Jeromi had 10 seconds to make a decision. He shook his head and agreed. He would give it a try. For the next 10 minutes Jeromi swung those GumChucks in front of over 100 investors in groups of 5 or 6 and every time he said they were called GumChucks, he got a big laugh. When he came back to me at the end of the pitch, he said that the reaction he got was completely different for the product based on the name change.
What happened over the next couple days and months is the company Oralwise was formed to produce this children’s dental product and over $1.5 million in capital was raised based on the prototype and my friend Keith Allen became their CEO. They went on to make cartoon figures, an iPhone game and eventual an extension product called OrthoGami for braces. What is funny about this story is I used to tell it to my Dentist and asked him if he wanted to invest in it. He thought it would not make it! Then the day came when I went to get a cleaning and my Dentist had the product in his hands. We had a laugh.
This story is how my new book called “#Names: How to Name Your Startup Venture” begins. I actually started to think I actually knew something about naming products and brands after that, and yes I did name a few more startups. But trust me I am no different than you or anyone else. I just had the desire to write a book about it!
A few months ago I wrote a blog article sharing my thoughts from #Names on choosing a startup venture name, a product name, a service name, a domain name, a brand or any business name. That theory, which is one of many in this book states that when choosing a name you need to look for 4 main points.
- Memorability. If people can remember it in 10 minutes, 24 hours, a month from now, that is more important than all other points.
- Familiarity. If it sounds familiar, like people have heard of the business name before (when they really haven’t), that is the second important point.
- Personality or humor. There are certain names that have something funny or cute about them. That makes them more memorable.
- Clarity. Can people tell what you do. That is important, but not always critical.
If you can hit all four points with a name, you have a winner. But most important is still memorability. That’s why Godaddy, Monster and Amazon were so successful. We could never forget them.
But trust me this is all opinion and subjective. You could show me many names that are hardly meeting any of these criteria, yet they are successful. So this is not a perfect science. The human mind is a bit of mystery why certain things are easier to remember.
If you need to choose a name today, know that you will need to choose a name tomorrow; know somebody coming up with a startup or the subject of names just interests you! then you can buy my book #Names.
Thank you for supporting me by reading my articles and blog entries! I am always shocked when I run into people who tell me they read these articles.
If you are in South Florida and in Boca Raton, Florida next Wednesday night, July 27th, 2016 at 6pm at Cendyn Spaces (Near Mizner Park), we will have up to 10 new tech startups pitching to an investor/expert panel. And some of the startups are quite interesting this time, including a car sharing company and a biofilter company. We expecting between 80 and 100 attendees.
Have a great night, week and see you at the pitch event!