Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

What are the downsides of communicating a key differentiation in your name?

One reason is that because of rapidly changing nature of business, today’s competitive advantage can easily become tomorrow’s disadvantage…or at least irrelevancy.

Think about how useful the name Tote.com would be for a shopping site developing a social-sharing universal shopping bag/cart. Pretty cool, huh? But what happens when that doesn’t work particularly well so they pivot to socially-sharing images? Wouldn’t, um, “Pinterest.com” be a little more useful?

Similarly, “stickybits.com” is perfect for a QR code tagging site, but doesn’t work nearly as well as “turntable.fm” once it turns into a collaborative music-playing site. Or “FundingUniverse.com” needing to change to “Lendio.com” when they pivoted from equity to debt.

Of course, you can try to game the system and figure out in advance where you’ll be AFTER you pivot and extend your line of business. But then you end up with a heck of a lot of customers trying to figure out why a mail order DVD rental company is called “netflix.com“.

Through painful experience, many industry professionals have learned that it usually makes more sense to go generic and ambiguous, allowing your genius marketers to add the meaning to simple, catchy URLs.

That’s why instead of naming your PEZ dispenser trading site “pezheads.com“, you’d probably be better off with “eBay.com“. Or instead of using “cheapbooks.com” for your online discount bookseller, a better choice might be the more flexible “Amazon.com“.

*original post can be found on Quora @ : http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

Written by David S. Rose

user David S. Rose Founder and CEO,
Gust

David has been described as "the Father of Angel Investing in New York" by Crain's New York Business, & a "world conquering entrepreneur" by BusinessWeek. He is a serial entrepreneur & Inc 500 CEO who chairs New York Angels, one of the most active angel investment groups. David is also CEO of Gust.

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