A few reflections on helping a friend find a new domain for his startup

Startup Brands

As many of you know, or maybe don’t know, a few years into Bold Metrics we went through Techstars, a startup accelerator that was a game-changer for our company. We raised $1M shortly after demo day and through the process I made some really wonderful friends.

What I think makes the process of going through a startup accelerator so unique is that you take a journey that is usually very isolating, and go through it alongside other founders all on the same journey. It’s a real, raw time full of ups and downs and there’s a connection you make with the other founders that remains strong now, six year later.

Not surprisingly, over time, more and more of my friends end up in the market for new domains and as the fellow founder who happens to know a thing or two about domains, I tend to end up involved in the process in some way or another.

Since I know my blog readers are both domain name professionals and startup founders, I thought it would be interesting to share a bit more about the thought process they’re going through when trying to buy a domain name.

First, setting the stage, this is a startup that has raised around $5M and is targeting B2B customers. They met with a branding consultant who helped them come up with a number of potential brand names. Of course, then the hard part came – finding those words in corresponding domains that don’t suck.

When my buddy first approached me, he asked about the .COM of the word they were the most interested in. The name is definitely a six-figure name, possibly a seven-figure name, and that’s out of budget for them so it was onto other extensions.

I asked my friend what their second choice is next to .COM, he said the team universally agreed on .CO. .IO doesn’t make as much sense since they’re B2B and most startup founders (my friend included) feel .IO is really a better fit for startups that target devs. While they use AI in their product, they weren’t too interested in .AI, it really was .CO and .COM, with .NET not even being on their radar.

When discussing .NET a bit more I think the complexity for them is that they felt .CO was just as strong if not stronger, but it seems domain owners want more for a .NET which is misaligned with what they saw as market/brand recognition. They evaluated some new gTLD options and actually have one they’re considering now as a potential top pick…bit it’s a six character extension and they think it might be quite a mouthful.

Overall there’s a general feeling that if they can’t get a .COM, a two-word extension with .CO clearly the top choice (if not the only choice) at this point was universally the preference both within the team and with the branding consultant they’re working with.

Out of respect for my friend I’m keeping the name of their company confidential but if he’s okay with me sharing it in the future, and if that includes sharing what name they ended up with I’ll happily do a follow-up post. Either way I thought this would be interesting data for my readers, both investors and founders.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Emeka October 21, 2020, 9:12 pm

    Why dont you just advise them to go for a .com instead of choosing an extension that leaks traffic?Let them see the disadvantage. If they could raise that lump sum ,they can find a nice premium at a good price range in .com.

    Reply
  • Jagan October 21, 2020, 9:13 pm

    Thank you for the insight.

    Reply
  • eric October 21, 2020, 11:00 pm

    Yes i agree with you about .com and .xyz

    Reply
  • Matt October 22, 2020, 1:39 am

    I love those who go with names other than .com and then come to .com owners to upgrade. It makes the world go ’round.

    Reply

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