Centuries ago, Shakespeare had said,
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.
And centuries later, every James Bond movie still has the classic line,
The name is Bond.. James Bond.
While Shakespeare extolled the meaninglessness of names when it came to love, James Bond’s stress on his name in every movie is to signal that he means business. And in business, your name means everything. It makes you likeable, announces your identity, strikes a rapport with your customers, stands for what you do, signals what you promise, reaches out to your target audience even before they have had a chance of experiencing your product or services- in short is one of the single most things you will decide on when starting a business.
What is going to be your brand name and why? How would you want your customers to associate with it? What do you want your customers to think of when they hear your startup’s name? These are some of the questions which you will have to seriously answer if you are an entrepreneur- more so a startup entrepreneur because as a startup you have to reach out to your target audience fast and quick. Hence, the importance of choosing a name which makes you stand out, facilitates quick brand recall and association, is either crazy or entertaining or unusual so that it just makes the right noise for your brand!
We decided to talk to some startup founders to bring to you the story behind their names and how they hit upon the right one for their startups. So here’s what they had to say about what’s in the name they chose!
A Woman Regarded As A Hero
SHEROES is an online career destination for women from all walks of life. Founder Sairee Chahal had this to say on choosing the name, “SHEROES is an urban dictionary term for a man or woman who supports women’s rights and respects women’s issues. Female heroes are also SHEROES. As a brand name it is symbolic of a women centric product we are building. There are underlying values of building this business – independence, intelligence, agility, grace under pressure, strength and the term SHEROES does full justice to representing them.” Most women centric businesses have pink connotations or have an underlying victim mindset and Sairee wanted to break free from those! She certainly has by choosing a sharp, strong name which makes the user find a feeling of strength, movement, pride, action, sharpness and boldness!
Gopher- A Common Term For An Errand Boy In North America
Gurgaon-based on-demand delivery startup Grofers traces its name back to the word ‘gopher’, which is a common term for an errand boy in North America, which is where co-founders Albinder Dhindsa and Saurabh Kumar met. They began with delivery of groceries & pharmacy and ‘Gopher + Grocer’ eventually became Grofers. Also, they felt that the name Grofers had great potential for category association for their consumers. Since they deliver a multitude of household items, they wanted the name Grofers to become synonymous with groceries. Think groceries, think Grofers is what they are aiming at!
Lookup means to become better; improve
Founders of Bangalore-based Lookup, a free and secure messaging app that connects shoppers with local businesses, actually went to the dictionary and found the word Lookup. Says Deepak Ravindran, “We looked at the definition of Lookup and we found these very interesting phrases, one of which is to become better; improve and that was great because we wanted to improve and become better in terms of helping people find local information. It also helped us to laser focus on what we do which is to look it up for you. We even found a domain hack which is lookup.to that perfectly suits our mission of building a great company that our generation can Look up to.
Also Deepak is a Mac user. When you select a text and right click, you always see Lookup ‘text’ instead of Google ‘text’ in Chrome / Windows. This was the eureka moment which led him to choose this name! That’s a different story they envision Lookup to become the Google Offline!
To Represent Energy, Independence, And Adventure
Self-drive car rental company Zoomcar chose this name as it wanted it to represent energy, independence and adventure. Says Greg Moran, CEO and Co-Founder, Zoomcar, “These are all traits we wanted to associate with the company. Wanted to have car there just to drive home the point we dealt with cars. We actually evaluated several other names. Once such name was Yourcar, but we ultimately thought we could do more with Zoom and the Z.”
Treebo Is Inverse Of Bo-Tree
Treebo Hotels, which is a tech-enabled chain of hotels offering quality accommodation to travellers at affordable prices, derives its name from the ‘Bo Tree’ or the fig tree under which Gautam Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment. Says Sidharth Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, “ Treebo is inspired by the fig tree family – Banyan, Peepal, etc. – in not just its name but also in what it does. In many ways these trees were the earliest form of budget hotels, offering shelter to travelers without discriminating between the rich and the poor. We too are obsessed about offering quality accommodation at affordable prices.”
Inspired From Chillar / Chillara/ Chillarai Meaning Small Change
Peer to peer payments app Chillr’s founder Sony Joy wanted to put a name that is in some subtle way linked to money since the core feature of the app is peer-2-peer money transfers. Says Sony, “We also wanted the name to be cool & not too serious sounding. I wanted the word to be derived from some Indian term which a lot of people could relate with. Chillr is inspired from the word ‘Chillar’ and other similar words across half a dozen Indian languages (chillara in Malayalam, chillarai in Tamil, chillar in Marathi & Hindi etc) which mean ‘small change’. Basically we want users to feel that with Chillr, you don’t need to worry about Chillar anymore and can just chill.”
Clap Signifies The Ease To Hire A Service Professional
Gurgaon-based services marketplace UrbanClap did not want to have a brand name that directly connects with what the company does – so that the brand can organically develop on its own. So they chose Urban – because all their services are targeted towards the Urban user, and Clap – to signify bringing their service professionals and customers together. Also, Clap signifies the ease with which one can hire a service professional on UrbanClap – as simple as a clap
Veda = ‘Knowledge’ and Tantu = ‘Network’
Bangalore-based edtech startup Vedantu wanted to select a brand name to convey the ethos of what we had set out to do. Vamsi Krishna, co-founder and CEO said, “Our focus was on creating a platform that aims to personalise and democratise learning. To fulfill that vision we had to create a system where teachers who are passionate about knowledge and education could come together and teach students 1-to-1 as per their need, pace and level. ‘Vedantu’ reflects our vision and purpose: Veda = ‘Knowledge’ and Tantu = ‘Network’. The idea was to create a knowledge network where any student can tap into a teacher directly and learning can happen in a personalised way, anytime-anywhere. It was a process of conscious deliberation to arrive at the ‘right’ name that’s easy to recall but also touches the right chord in the audience when heard!”
Inspired from FURniture LENding COmpany
India’s first rental subscription program for furniture Furlenco’s founder Ajith Karimpana says the name wasn’t an epiphany. “It was in fact a deliberate rebranding exercise that we did. It was inspired from FURniture LENding COmpany. But of course we never use it that way. One of the clinching elements for us was the availability of domain names which has become a challenge for us these days!”
Say Hello To The Chef
Online marketplace for chefs Holachef’s name was chosen to imply that the food it served is crafted by someone who has an authority over the cuisine/dish that he/she is making. Says Saurabh Saxena, Founder – CEO , “We wanted the name to drive home the fact that foods are made by chefs only. We wanted our customers to say hello to their chef who will serve something worth craving for every day. Also, the .com domain for Holachef was available. That kind of sealed it!”
Hippocampus Learning Centres
Inspired From Hippocampus In Human Brain
Education startup Hippocampus Learning Centres, which provides high quality preschool education to children in rural India at extremely affordable costs, takes its name from Hippocampus- a major component of the brains of humans and other vertebrates. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. Founder Umesh Malhotra says, “The main aim was to push our son into reading and it came from him the idea of library, similar to the ones in the US. From there the desire to make children learn emerged. To transform education in rural India.”
A Little Deal That Can Get You A Lot More
Bangalore-based O2O deals marketplace, Little wanted to signify the ‘little’ actions/, ‘little’ efforts, ‘little’ money/ or a Little Deal that can get you a “lot more”! It was also chosen to focus on the lifestyle of our target customers not their pockets! Little is going to help them live life a little better, a little more and while saving a little too!
‘Explore & Improve Your Life’
Bangalore based event ticketing platform Explara’s team wanted to choose a name that perfectly aligns with its mission. Says Santosh Panda, founder, “Our mission: We are in the business of making people explore experiences and improve their life! Each one of us came up with several names to do with event, event ticketing, show, tickets and late night after dinner we used to have a ‘name bashing session’ to see which one can stand the bashing 🙂 And whichever sustained bashing overnight will be ready to share with employees to take their feedback next day during office hours. This went on crazy day after day and most of us were getting tired and about to give us. That is when we had an eureka moment! After several tiring sessions, one of our team member said ‘hey, we can coin a name from our own mission statement!’ That is the ‘Explore & improve your life’ …Explara!”
Single View to Your Money
App based financial management startup Money View wanted to make sure that the name is something that is simple and straightforward. The name must explain upfront the USP of the app that is giving a ‘single-view’ access to all your money. When customers are being exposed to Money View, we expect them to think of a something that gives a single-view access to all their money and help them manage their money better.
Chumma+ Bak= Kissing Stones = Magnets
Accessories brand Chumbak’s Vivek Prabhakar and Shubra Chadda were brainstorming back in 2009, trying all kinds of names and rejecting them. Says Vivek, “Finally, I asked her what the word ‘Magnet’ was in Hindi and she said Chumbak And within 20 mins, we were online and had chumbak.com registered. It was a no-brainer. Eventually after many months, we stumbled upon the etymology of the word Chumbak. Chumbak is broken into two words. Chumma which we all know, means kiss and Bak means stones. So Kissing Stones = Magnets. The initial idea was to do only Fridge Magnets and that’s the first category we got known for and today even though a lot of people who know Chumbak don’t know it means Magnet. We wanted and still want people to think of happy, colourful and contemporary design when they hear the brand name.”
Payments ‘On-The-Go’ With Mobile
Gurgaon-based mobile wallet company, MobiKwik’s founder Bipin Preet Singh foresaw a future where people in India would start making all their payments with their mobile phone. Based on the vision, he decided to launch a technology venture that would not only enable that transition, but also lead the way. It was evident to him how speed and convenience would play the most critical role in getting users to switch from paying with cash or card to making payments ‘on-the-go’ with their mobile phone. Hence, when it came to choosing a name for the business, he decided to go with one that reflected how fast and convenient its technology was- that’s how MobiKwik came to life!
How Much Can You Blah Blah!
France based ride sharing platform BlaBlaCar which connects car owners and co-travellers to share city-to-city journeys, asks members who register on BlaBlaCar to fill in their preferences. One of them is specifying how chatty they are from “Bla” to “BlaBlaBla”, hence the name BlaBlaCar! BlaBlaCar’s initial name was covoiturage.fr. The change into BlaBlaCar has been introduced in 2013 to have a more international name that illustrates the friendly and social aspect of ridesharing and that would be understood in every language.
CredR, which is an online marketplace for listing and purchasing verified, pre-owned vehicles at the fairest value, wanted to build trust in the consumer’s mind. Hence, the team chose the word Credr. Says co-founder Sumit Chhazed, “CredR comes from the word Credere that has a Latin root. The meaning of the word is trust or belief. Since our platform is a reliable platform that intends to build trust in the minds of people, we decided to choose this name.” The team came together to put an end to all problems that come in the way of buying and selling used vehicles and create an easy, simple and trustworthy experience for them. The solution that they came up with was CredR and they decided to name it after trust or credibility or Credible Resale, hence the name.
One Of The Fastest 10 Animals In The World
Bangalore-based B2B logistics startup BlackBuck sought inspiration from the animal kingdom for their name! BlackBuck is one of the 10 fastest animals in the world. More importantly, this is found only in India. For the startup, it signifies responsiveness.
World Of Coupons
When Sameer Parwani, CEO & Founder, CouponDunia founded it in 2010, couponing in India was in its early stages. Says Sameer, “At that point it made sense to optimise for SEO. To do so, I decided the name had to have coupon in it – and that we would append some other noun to it. Like village or guru etc. I ended up choosing “dunia” because a “world of coupons” accurately represented my goal of being the largest and best couponing site. Plus, it made me feel really clever that I found a way to include a Hindi word in the name (I don’t really know Hindi or any Indian language). Little did I know that apparently the more common spelling of “dunia” is actually “duniya”. Although, I still prefer “dunia” because it’s shorter and our name is already long enough!”
Came Close To ShopNow
Bangalore based online grocery startup ZopNow’s founder Mukesh Singh thought of the name during one of his marathon runs! Says Mukesh, “ I noticed ‘Horn OK Please’ written on the back of few transport vehicles and quite a few of them had spelt it incorrectly. At that time, we were looking for a domain name like ‘shopnow.com‘ but the price that was quoted by the domain owner was pretty high. I decided to look for a word that sounded similar to ‘shopnow’ and that’s how we booked ‘ZopNow.com’. We wanted our customers to value us for the convenience with which they can shop for groceries from ZopNow and get them delivered ‘Now’ instead of late. All in all – our name signifies that promise – whatever you need for your household – just log on to ZopNow and shop now!”
Inspired By Twitter Logo And Owls Which Are Wise And Swift!
Food-tech startup TinyOwl was born out of a need to have tasty food that was accessible without having to save information of each restaurant. The founders wanted the brand had to resonate in its name and it should also be catchy and come across as a smart tool. Says Harshvardhan Mandad, Co-founder & CEO, TinyOwl, “ We did not have to work too hard in particular while looking for a name. We were influenced by Twitter and its logo, and thus decided to go with a bird name. We stumbled upon the fact that Owls though considered imprudent are actually very wise, they can see 270 degrees and are very swift. Similarly, our app is fast and allows customers to search for the food they desire and with our offering of homemade food, it completes our Owl analogy!”
Ease Of Finding Jobs Or Hiring Candidates
Mumbai-based job portal AasaanJobs wanted to signify the simplification of the job-finding process. Says founder Dinesh Goel, “Whether it be seeking a job or hiring candidates for job roles, it is the convenience that matters the most. This led to us coining the term ‘Aasaanjobs’ which signified the extreme ease with which a candidate could transform his life by getting a better job, and that recruiters could rely on to get their requirements fulfilled.”
Saving Time From Mundane House Chores!
On-demand home services startup Timesaverz wanted to build a platform where consumers can order home services and save their time from going through multiple classifieds sites / inquiring from building watchman on possible servicemen in the area / spend time in verifying credentials. Timesaverz provides hyperlocal quality service on time by verified service partners. “The thing that topped everything else in terms of addressing the need gap that the business was solving for was – saving people’s time in a busy metro life from coordinating various home chores, says Debadutta Upadhyaya, Co-founder. Hence the name Timesaverz.” says Debadutta Upadhyaya, Co-founder.
Recharges Made Free Through Coupons
Digital payments platform, FreeCharge’s co-founder Kunal Shah conceived the idea of FreeCharge during his last employment at PaisaBack. Says Kunal, “I was struck by the fact that recharge(s) experience can be made interesting by turning them ‘Free’ by giving away coupons and vouchers along with the recharges. In August 2010, I co-founded FreeCharge with Sudeep Tandon and focused to build a business that turned the boring and dull payments in to rewarding transaction experience for customers. We named it FreeCharge as while making payments, customers are rewarded with coupons of equal value thus practically making their recharges “Free”!”
Bare Minimum Clothing The Present Generation Needs Is A ‘Shorts’-Pun Intended!
Azhar Iqubal, CEO & Co-Founder, content distributor app Inshorts, found it too cumbersome to read daily news stories due to their long format and the time consumed reading it. Says Azhar, “So it was a challenge to keep myself abreast with the developments in our ecosystem. So, my team and I introduced a new platform where the news updates were in just 60 words! Now, while our product was innovative and consumer friendly, we knew the brand name also needs to click with the audience to cement their affability with our app. Why would you share the app in your friend circle, if it had a dreary name! So while ruminating over a few options – we were looking for a name that validated the offering, which essentially is the shorter read version of the original story! So we give news in short format – News in shorts! Eureka! That’s the name that unanimously rang in our heads – Newsinshorts! We later rebranded it as ‘Inshorts’ taking into consideration the branding and advertising aspects too. On a lighter note, there’s a pun intended here, that the bare minimum clothing the present generation needs is a ‘shorts’. Hence, ‘Inshorts’ brings to you news in minimum words!”
Helping People To Get Numerous Things Done
When Delhi’s chat-based personal assistant app Helpchat was still the complaints redressal forum Akosha, it realised that as the number of consumers grew, the nature of queries also changed. Says Kali Charan Shukla, Vice President – Marketing, “Our data points show that people use with diverse queries asking for help. The nature of assistance sought from various brands and service categories. Hence, we wanted to create a power tool for people -one that amplifies their ability to get things done tremendously. We wanted to create a new brand identity that reflects an absolutely new positioning. The name was suggested by Ogilvy. At first stage, we didn’t accept and was looking for some better name. Later we realised the beauty of this name is its simplicity that defines the business!”
Follow Your Heart
Online apparel startup Bewakoof’s founders had initially thought of some fancy English sounding name, but we soon realised that it was just another fashion brand name that would eventually lose its power to be desirable. We gathered from our strenuous research that the urban apparel sector was already saturated with fanciful, made-up names that were done to death and sounded desperate. Says Prabhkiran Singh, co-founder, “Both Siddharth and I skipped high paying job interviews and college placements to chase our dream of building a startup like no other. People often sarcastically tagged us as ‘Bewakoofs’, and ironically that’s when we thought of creating a fashion brand that has its roots in our philosophy – Follow your heart. Bewakoof had a shock and stand out value to it which is vital to effective branding. The name was unusual and interesting without going over the top. It was a name that ranked high on ‘stickiness factor’ and stirred curiosity in people’s minds.”
Favourite Colour + Stare!
Bluegape which was founded by Sahil Baghla and Ayush Varshney as an online merchandise store took its name from Sahil’s favourite colour. Says Sahil, “Blue is my favourite colour and since we started with posters, we were looking for words around staring or looking. Gape is a synonym of that and hence Bluegape became our first name.” When Bluegape was pivoting to its visual blogging avatar and launching the app, it circulated a circular about the app and its features and their vision to their employees, asking them to suggest a suitable name. Out of the 100 plus names they got, they chose Murmur which fit in well with their new avatar!
Real Time Floats/Updates
NowFloats, which is an enabler of Small and Medium Businesses (SME) business presence or a digital marketing platform for small and medium businesses to get online and be noticed, chose the word now and float very consciously. Says Jasminder Singh, co-founder, “For us, every single float is a content update that we make to the platform for a business. And now signifies that’s it’s all real time-that we are a live aggregator platform for updates related to any business.”
Innovation And Infinity!
Ritesh Malik, founder of co-working space Innov8 in Delhi, had a much interesting tale to tell. Says Ritesh, “ 8 stands for infinity, Innov stands for Innovation. We are building India’s best Thought Centre. Innovation is the next revolution in the country. It’s a verb as well as a noun. For eg. ‘I am going to Innov8’, expressing both as verb & noun!”
The Customer Says So!
Appointy, an online scheduling software for small and medium sized businesses, owes the apt name to one of their clients. Says Nemesh Singh, founder, “ It was one of our clients who suggested the name. We were discussing with him how we are looking for a cool name for the appointment scheduling software we have developed and he suggested since it’s for appointment, why not call it Appointy? We liked the name, it sounded right and that was it!”
Taking Logistics To The Next Level!
Mumbai-based logistics analytics firm, LogiNext, had a clear mission in mind when they named the startup two years ago. Says co-founder Dhruvil Sanghvi, “ When we started out two years ago, logistics was an unorganised space and we wanted to organise it with tech. We had this vision to cover all legs of logistics with technology and take it to a new level. Hence the name LogiNext. Also, we are a B2B company. So instead of opting for a cooler name, we opted for a more practical one-one that could inspire faith our customers to have faith in us. Our logo too signifies the same vision-we want to connect shipments with internet technology.”
When Is Beta Going To Be Out!
Noida based Betaout– a behavioural marketing platform which enables online businesses to increase conversions and personalise user engagement, had one of the most interesting tales ever. Says co-founder Nandini Rathi, “It’s funny how we got the name. We were in initial beta and through our earlier business references we had already got our first client. Ankit ( co-founder) used to ask the tech team relentlessly when is beta going to be out! And before we even got the chance to rebrand, we got our second client. Hence, the name kind of stuck to us and since we already had gained enough traction with it, we let it be. Also the domain name was available which kind of sealed our decision!”
This Is Who I Am
Noida-based video micro-blogging platform, Frankly.me wants users to be who they are. Says Nikunj, co-founder of the platform which has about 250,000 users on its platform, “ We want our users to tell people who they connect to that “frankly this is me!”
Do you have an interesting story to share about your brand name? Give us a shout at [email protected]!