Tech Startup Brands: What’s Hot and What’s Not

“We now live in a world where one-word domains with massively broad use cases and brandable one and two-word domain names have won [the race against product-related domains]. – Morgan Linton, July 2018

In a prior post I talked about 349 recent sales from three brandable marketplaces. I assessed them as a group and analyzed them in terms of length, style and keywords. This week I’m looking for trends in the brand names of 200 tech startups that were recently covered in news reports on TechCrunch.

Let’s see what we can discern from the trends, tendencies and nuances of this random list of 200 names.
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The Ultimate Guide: How to Sell a Domain Name

Many of us have the habit of registering a domain name whenever we have a great (or not so great) idea for a new startup company, product, project, blog or side-business. But those ideas often remain just that, an idea. And the domain name will end up sitting dormant in your registrar account for months, years or even decades alongside an often growing family of other, unused domain names. These domain names don’t have to stay dormant; starting up a business is incredibly scary, but achievable.

Other reasons for owning unused domain names could be that you retired from or closed a business, decided to stop updating your blog or personal site or you acquired other companies over the years, with their domains. If so, you’re probably wondering if these domains are worth anything to someone else and if yes, how you can sell your domain names?

How to sell a domain name?

In this post, I will guide you through all the different steps in the process of successfully selling a domain name. From valuation to pricing, marketing, listing, negotiating and closing a sale with a safe and secure way to transfer the domain name to its new owner and the seller (that will be you) receiving payment. You can use the links below to jump to a specific section.

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The Brandable Insider: Creating a List of Strong, Brandable Keywords

Several people have messaged me asking where they can find a list of strong, trendy, brandable keywords. The answer is everywhere and nowhere. No such list exists, that I know of, except in the toolbox of successful brandable domainers. It’s a list that’s subjective and evolves over time. It’s a list that no two domainers will agree on. It’s a list that comes from analysis, observation and experience. It’s the summation of hours spent at sites like NameBio, TechCrunch, DomainSherpa, AngelList, CrunchBase, BrandBucket, Startups-list and BrandRoot. Looking, analyzing, evaluating and deciding the relative value of each word. After a while it becomes intuitive. But in the beginning you need a written list.

For those that don’t have such a list, I’ll get you started. The way I’m going to do that is by showing you sample brands for existing startups in some of the most relevant technology niches of today. Not every keyword listed is a tier one brandable word. But most of them are. So get out your keyboard and create and refine your keyword list!

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The Brandable Insider: Looking Back on the Year in Domaining

We’re coming to the end of another calendar year. Time to look back and assess what went on in the domain industry. I thought one interesting way to do that would be to look back at what leaders in our industry said a year ago. If you remember, our friend Domain Shane, was kind enough to organize and publish (here and here) the ruminations of several domain industry leaders back in December of 2015. They gave their thoughts on what might be in store for 2016.

Here are some of the things they said. Keep in mind that these folks made their comments in the last month of 2015, right at the height of the CHIP market frenzy. Let me know in the comment section who you think had the most accurate crystal ball for 2016. Ok, here we go………

Andy Booth said:

    I think it’s safe to say that trend sectors (like short and numeric dot-com) will almost certainly be at a higher point come the end of the year. I would invest in special 4 letter domains with a pattern (AABB, ABAB, ABBB, AAAB) or raise a little more cash (go in with a couple of friends) to buy a 4 number dot-com.

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How Agoda got its (domain) name

After kicking off the “How they got their name” series with earlier this month I want to share another story that provides great insight in how some start-up companies tackle the all important naming (and domaining) process.

If you have ever traveled around Asia chances are pretty high that at some point you’ve booked accommodation through

Founded in 2002 in Bangkok by Robert Rosenstein and Michael Kenny the site was acquired five years later by Priceline. The site is currently available in 37 languages and reached more than 80 million visitors in December 2014 according to Similarweb.

So where does the Agoda name and matching .com domain come from? Ahead of the WIT (web in travel) conference in 2011 CEO and co-founder Robert shared some unique insight in how they came up with the name:

Many years ago, like many search engine focused marketers, we marketed our hotel product through many different domain names that we owned or partnered with. We always wanted to build a singular brand and move away from search, and we had been looking for good name for at least a year.

Agoda was one of the names we came across that was available in multiple languages and for sale online. We liked it because it sounded a lot a lot like a slang for “I’ve got to go” as in “I got ‘Agoda’ Tokyo this weekend.

With so many different nationalities inside our business speaking English to each other with different accents, we had a good laugh about that and eventually settled on the name. It didn’t hurt that it was only five letters, relatively easy to pronounce, started with the letter A, and sounded Asian because of the similarity with Pagoda.

As with all things we do, we also tested the name with real customers and received good response. We then worked with creative talent to create a more clear brand identity. It all came together over a period of about six months and we never looked back.

I really like how the company decided to go with a brand name rather than a descriptive domain names like most of their competitors did back in those days and as someone living in Asia for the past 8 years I can assure you that the Agoda brand is as well known and popular as Expedia is in the US. I reached out to CEO Robert Rosenstein to see if he can share more details about the price the company paid for the domain name and will update this post if I hear anything back.

How Yelp got its (domain) name.

I love learning about how (start-up) companies got their name and matching domain name. As a domain name investor it helps me to better understand the naming and decision process most entrepreneurs go through at one point when they need to come up with a great name for their business idea. Very often the stories behind how a company got it’s name and the matching domain name are very interesting, funny or even exciting which made me decide they will make for a cool returning topic here on – so here’s the first in a series of posts about How start-up companies got their (domain) name:

Founded in 2004, Yelp is currently one of the largest ratings and reviews sites on the web and listed on the NYSE. As of 2014, had a staggering 132 million monthly visitors and 57 million reviews.

Co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman shares on Q&A site Quora that he initially wanted to call the site Yocal. He thought it was a neat play on “local” and “yokel,” but he wasn’t able to get the matching .com domain (Whois info shows is currently owned by Yahoo Inc but doesn’t resolve). With only a month away from launch and struggling to find a name, a guy in the same incubator was poking around online and saw that the domain was available for just $5,000.

Russ and I didn’t immediately like the name since it was “the sound of a dog being kicked”. Fortunately Scott Bannister (another guy hanging out in the incubator, who was also involved in the naming of PayPal) immediately loved it. He told us he’d buy it and sell it to us the next day when we came to our senses. In the ensuing discussion Jared Kopf (yet another incubator employee) put down his credit card and actually bought the domain. The next day it was transfered to the company (we paid back Jared) and the rest is history.

In a short video interview on their own site Jeremy also tells how Yelp got it’s name. After saying they initially thought the name sounded like a “cry for help” and how they were afraid for negative connotations they acknowledged the domain it’s many qualities such as short, memorable and the strong affiliations with Help and Yellow Pages after a single night of sleep.