As our target customers are actually other software developers we have the advantage of doing all our selling via the internet. If a programmer wants to buy a software component they are almost bound to start by using either a google search or by visiting an online component store such as Component Source.
We want to have a domain name that instantly tells the potential customer what it is we do, so they know they are coming to the right place. So the name needs to be specific enough to tell them what we do but not so specific that creating other products invalidates it. Getting the balance right is important but tricky.
There are two obvious approaches to creating a name. Either create a completely new word that is not in the dictionary or create a name from correct English words. A good example of the first approach would be Microsoft and the second would be Rational Software.
After spending an hour working on the first approach I gave up. Coming up with a new word is really hard and no matter what I tried it sounded really stupid. The best I managed was Visiwig and so you can see how bad things were! So I kicked this idea into the long grass and opted to try the second approach.
I began by creating a list of words appropriate for the company. As we intend to sell visual components to developers I can up with the following set of words:-
Art, Visual, Widget, Doodads
Component, Software, Dynamic
From this I derived lots of potential names that were then thinned down to the following set that appealed to me. You will of course instantly notice that the first one has no relation to the what the company does and is not related to the list of original words either.
This is an interesting phenomenon that might be just me or maybe it occurs to everyone. But as I was thinking of names a new idea would suddenly pop into my head from nowhere. If I liked the idea I would write it down.
Next I showed the list to the wife to see how they sounded to someone else. Lucky for me she was sat down when I read out Crazy Software because she doubled up with laughter for about 5 minutes and almost wet herself. So I scratched that one off the list.
Next up was Visual Widgets, which only evoked a quizzical look because being a girl and from Australia she had no idea what a Widget is. The last two were given the seal of approval with Software Dynamics being the clear favorite. It was also my favorite and so the decision was made.
You can probably guess what is coming next. I tride to registier the domain name and sure enough www.softwaredynamics.com was already registered. Well I should not be surprised, if it sounds good to me then it probably sounds good to someone else. But there was a glimmer of hope. Instead of being registered to a trading company it was held by one of those domain name sharks that is holding it with the sole purpose of selling it on at a profit to some poor mug like me.
Well I sent them an email and after about a day they responded saying it would cost a mere $6000 to buy. But I had better be quick because domain name prices are rising all the time! As a microISV that is more than I want to spend in the first year of starting the company and so that idea is out the window. Not to mention that I object to lining the pockets of the these domain name sharks anyway.
But one good thing came out of the process and that is finding a good use for the search page on the sharks website. Now instead of generating potential domain names myself I entered my list of keywords into their page and let it come up with lots of ideas for me. You can try it yourself by entering a list of words into the Keyword(s) field and then pressing the Search button on this Search Page.
Obviously all the ideas they come up with are for domains that they happen to want to sell, but it does create lots of variations which lead you to new ideas. It certainly beats using a pen and paper. After doing this for a couple of minutes I came up with the Component Factory name. This appealed to me because it encapsulates exactly what the company produces, components. Plus the use of the word factory would make it easy to create a distinctive logo and identity for the company.
It also conforms to the criteria I started with. Specific enough to describe what the company does but not too specific that it would become obsolete quickly. Most important of all it has the feel good factor. It feels good and appeals to me which is important because the whole point of being your own boss is to do things your own way and enjoy the process.
Now all I had to do was register the name and its various extensions in the way described in my last article. On investigation it turns out that the name is already registered by a shark, albeit a different shark this time. This time the shark only wanted $600 for the name. I did think about ditching the name and starting all over again just as a matter of principle. But in the end I decided I could afford that amount and I really wanted to get hold of that name.
So I bought the ComponentFactory.com domain name for $600 and then purchased some other variations such as .co.uk, .us, .org, .biz, .name and .info and ensured they were all fully paid up for 5 years into the future. I used Network Solutions to register the names, perform the transfer from the shark and host a website.
At the end of the long winded process I can recommend that you leave yourself plenty of time to come up with a name and be prepared to find that your first few ideas have already been registered. But make sure you do not give in and keep going until you get something you are 100% happy with because your going to be using it, hopefully, for many years to come!