How To Make It as a
First-Time Entrepreneur

How to Make it as a First-Time Entrepreneur

Vinicius Vacanti is co-founder and CEO of Yipit. Next posts on how to acquire users for free and how to raise a Series A. Don’t miss them by subscribing via email or via twitter.

Naming your startup sounds fun and awesome.

Let’s say you have a music sharing idea, so you’re going to grab music.com.  Wait, that’s probably too obvious. I’ll be creative. Let me try sharemusic.com. Oh, taken. How about Musicster.com, taken. Songster, taken. Songly, taken. Beaster, taken. Uh, oh. That’s when you realize something we’ve all at one point realized, EVERYTHING sensible is taken.

Before you know it, instead of spending time getting your prototype out, you’ve spent way too many days on instant domain search, thesaurus.com, polling friends, telling yourself you’re not going to spend anymore time on it, wondering if a .net domain is all that bad, telling yourself google was a terrible domain name so you shouldn’t care that much, trying to reach someone in Russia who owns the domain you want, finding a domain that’s actually available, buying all 10 spelling variations, realizing 5 minutes and $50 later that you don’t actually like the domain.

We went through all of the above when trying to name Yipit and we came up with a long list of terrible names and these were the ones we actually bought: streetcake, frankencity, 1gotham, citybat, noocher, zaxme. Ugh.

Needless to say, we were very unhappy with our final list and, even worse, we had spent way too much time on it.

So, after the fifth time we had told ourselves we weren’t going to spend any more time on it, we decided to come up with a different strategy.

Bottoms Up Approach to Finding a Domain

We wanted something short and we decided we wanted the domain to end in “it”.  We figured people say  “google it”, and we hoped that one day, if we got popular enough, we could make it easier on people by having the “it” as part of the name. I will be both very happy and very sad if, one day, I hear someone say “yipit it”.

So, I wrote a simple python script to generate every [consonant][vowel][consonant]it.com.  With 21 consonants and 5 vowels, that resulted in 2,205 possible domains.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to look those up individually. Fortunately, godaddy has a bulk uploader that lets you check 500 domains at the time. (If someone knows of a better bulk upload checker, comment below!)

Of the 2,205 domain combinations, around 400 (in May 2008) were available. As you can expect, the ones that were available had Q’s in them with no accompanying U’s and other horrible formations.  It was disappointing. The available domains were terrible but, amongst the trash, we spotted the needle in the haystack: yipit.com.

The best part, it took us just 30 minutes to find our domain!

We both liked it and asked a few friends and family what they thought.  They all really liked it. I couldn’t believe our domain search was over. Yipit was our new company name.

(Hilariously, that same week, we had asked a creative friend of ours to come up with names and she had come up with 20 fun names one of which was “yipit”.)

How to Come Up With Your Own Script

Good available domains are like needles in the haystack. They are really hard to find by trial and error but this scripting technique combined with the bulk checker, lets you get to those needles fast. I recommend you do the following:

  • Come up with a prefix or suffix that you like.  For us it was “it”, maybe for you it’s “get” or “un” or “ster” or “me”.  It doesn’t have to be a real prefix or suffix, it could be a suffix like “mo”
  • Write a script or use excel, to generate combinations of your prefix / suffix with two / three letter combinations or actual lists of words
  • Run them through godaddy bulk uploader and see if a great domain falls out

Hopefully this will help you find your domain and get back to doing what actually matters, building your prototype.

I went back today and ran the script again. I checked all the combinations through the godaddy bulk uploader tool to see which ones were still available and put the available domains in this google doc. The pickings are slim.  My favorite one is Vopit though it sounds a little bit like vomit.

(If anyone else tried a similar approach to naming their startup, let us know below in the comments!)

Vinicius Vacanti is co-founder and CEO of Yipit. Next posts on how to acquire users for free and how to raise a Series A. Don’t miss them by subscribing via email or via twitter.

  • http://disqus.com/ Ro Gupta

    Nice work Vin – a friend and former co-worker did something clever along these lines too: http://andrewbadr.com/log/1/my-dip-into-domaining/

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Thanks for sharing the link. Loved his approach.

  • http://www.aaronkharris.com akharris

    Love the way you guys did it. We ended up going with http://nameboy.com/, which works off of keyword association, and only shows you available domains. Had a bunch of good options, and just picked one and went with it. We spent a while trying to get too clever, and then realized that, end of the day, our time was way better spent in other places. Microsoft was never such an awesome name, nor was Berkshire Hathaway. We figured better to get a decent name and build something great than waste the name getting a great name and building a decent product.

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Thanks for recommending nameboy.com and agree on not spending too much time with it. We definitely spent way too much time.

  • http://rocrastination.com/ Ro Gupta

    Nice work Vin – a friend and former co-worker did something clever along these lines too: http://andrewbadr.com/log/1/my-dip-into-domaining/

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks for sharing the link. Loved his approach.

  • http://disqus.com/ Ro Gupta

    Nice work Vin – a friend and former co-worker did something clever along these lines too: http://andrewbadr.com/log/1/my-dip-into-domaining/

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks for sharing the link. Loved his approach.

  • http://www.aaronkharris.com akharris

    Love the way you guys did it. We ended up going with http://nameboy.com/, which works off of keyword association, and only shows you available domains. Had a bunch of good options, and just picked one and went with it. We spent a while trying to get too clever, and then realized that, end of the day, our time was way better spent in other places. Microsoft was never such an awesome name, nor was Berkshire Hathaway. We figured better to get a decent name and build something great than waste the name getting a great name and building a decent product.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks for recommending nameboy.com and agree on not spending too much time with it. We definitely spent way too much time.

  • http://www.aaronkharris.com akharris

    Love the way you guys did it. We ended up going with http://nameboy.com/, which works off of keyword association, and only shows you available domains. Had a bunch of good options, and just picked one and went with it. We spent a while trying to get too clever, and then realized that, end of the day, our time was way better spent in other places. Microsoft was never such an awesome name, nor was Berkshire Hathaway. We figured better to get a decent name and build something great than waste the name getting a great name and building a decent product.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks for recommending nameboy.com and agree on not spending too much time with it. We definitely spent way too much time.

  • BrandBucket

    Great intro. That is the situation that leads clients to BrandBucket. We have creative names invented by a real person rather than some software so they are more memorable on a human stand point. Its stressful to have to come up with your ideal business name.

  • BrandBucket

    Great intro. That is the situation that leads clients to BrandBucket. We have creative names invented by a real person rather than some software so they are more memorable on a human stand point. Its stressful to have to come up with your ideal business name.

  • BrandBucket

    Great intro. That is the situation that leads clients to BrandBucket. We have creative names invented by a real person rather than some software so they are more memorable on a human stand point. Its stressful to have to come up with your ideal business name.

  • http://technbiz.blogspot.com paramendra

    Interesting story. But not as glamorous as I thought it might have been. I was hoping for the moment of inspiration story. But great name you got.

    • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

      pretty sure the moment of inspiration is in there. read it again and look for the desperation and you’ll be close.

  • http://technbiz.blogspot.com paramendra

    Interesting story. But not as glamorous as I thought it might have been. I was hoping for the moment of inspiration story. But great name you got.

    • Anonymous

      pretty sure the moment of inspiration is in there. read it again and look for the desperation and you’ll be close.

  • http://www.tonycappaert.com Tony Cappaert

    Great idea! I just whipped up a quick little script that does the same thing. Check it out at http://tonycappaert.com/projects/domaingen.php?suf=it

    Since most people probably don’t want to be limited to just a suffix of “it”, there’s a few variables you can alter in my script:
    – pre: any text BEFORE the consonant-vowel-consonant string
    – suf: any text AFTER the string
    – ext: the domain name extension (defaults to .com if left blank)
    – max: the maximum number of domain name results (starting at a random character)

    Since GoDaddy limits the bulk check to 500, the quickest way to do a domain check is to run the script setting the max at 500, then just copy and paste the result in the bulk domain lookup.

    Couple different examples:
    http://tonycappaert.com/projects/domaingen.php?suf=it&max=500
    http://tonycappaert.com/projects/domaingen.php?pre=go&suf=me&max=500&ext=.net

    Enjoy!

    • http://www.tonycappaert.com Tony Cappaert

      Oh btw, I purposefully removed “q” from my list of consonants. I found it just cluttered the domain results, and I wasn’t likely to buy a domain using it anyway.

      • http://chiguai.tumblr.com/ Michael Wills

        Hi Tony, I know this is ancient in Internet time but thanks for making the domain generator available. 

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      woah. this is awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/cappaert Tony Cappaert

    Great idea! I just whipped up a quick little script that does the same thing. Check it out at http://tonycappaert.com/projects/domaingen.php?suf=it

    Since most people probably don’t want to be limited to just a suffix of “it”, there’s a few variables you can alter in my script:
    – pre: any text BEFORE the consonant-vowel-consonant string
    – suf: any text AFTER the string
    – ext: the domain name extension (defaults to .com if left blank)
    – max: the maximum number of domain name results (starting at a random character)

    Since GoDaddy limits the bulk check to 500, the quickest way to do a domain check is to run the script setting the max at 500, then just copy and paste the result in the bulk domain lookup.

    Couple different examples:
    http://tonycappaert.com/projects/domaingen.php?suf=it&max=500
    http://tonycappaert.com/projects/domaingen.php?pre=go&suf=me&max=500&ext=.net

    Enjoy!

    • http://twitter.com/cappaert Tony Cappaert

      Oh btw, I purposefully removed “q” from my list of consonants. I found it just cluttered the domain results, and I wasn’t likely to buy a domain using it anyway.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      woah. this is awesome!

  • Billy Arzt

    Check out werdmerge.com, a portmanteau generator. My co-founder built it for this very reason.

  • Billy Arzt

    Check out werdmerge.com, a portmanteau generator. My co-founder built it for this very reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=411620 Ryan O’Donnell
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=411620 Ryan O’Donnell
  • http://wikidi.com/ Michal Illich

    This is how I named Jyxo :)

  • http://wikidi.com/ Michal Illich

    This is how I named Jyxo :)

  • http://www.danshapiro.com/blog Dan Shapiro

    I was really pleased with the results from http://www.squadhelp.com (no affiliation). I used them to name http://www.sparkbuy.com.

  • http://twitter.com/danshapiro Dan Shapiro

    I was really pleased with the results from http://www.squadhelp.com (no affiliation). I used them to name http://www.sparkbuy.com.

  • Rodolfo Carvalho

    I did something similar to come up with my twitter username… http://blog.rodolfocarvalho.net/2010/11/criando-uma-conta-no-twitter.html

  • Tauno Novek

    http://www.namestation.com is a domain name generator, specifically dedicated to finding available domain names – including some of the methods described in this article. Hope this saves some scripting time:)  

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