We'll be revealing our name next week!

There's very little out there about naming and domain name negotiations, so I thought I'd share a bit of our story... There were 2 steps:

1) Create a "short list" of names
2) Acquire the domain

The story of how we did it 👇🏾
We enlisted two of our investors to help:

1) @hiiamArielle at First Round who ran us through a naming process (for free)

2) @krutal is a serial entrepreneur who also happens to be an excellent domain name negotiator

Talk about value-add!
I like to use a temporary name for legal paperwork and investor pitches. At Sprig, it was "Fresh" and at NewCo, it is "Didactic"

Pick one you would never use so you don’t get tempted into using it bc of inertia...

Also don't indulge the name when other people use it publicly!
Step 1: Create a "short list" of names.

Over four 1-hour meetings, Arielle walked us thru a "Positioning & Naming" doc with questions like:
- What does Didactic do?
- How do you do it?
- Who is your target customer?
- How do they feel?

Forced us to get tight on our value prop.
The result is a positioning statement that looks like this:
Arielle also recommends naming the category you are creating with your company. This led us to the name "CBC" or "cohort-based course."

@wes_kao and I spent a lot of time thinking about releasing the CBC name into the wild and did it here:
We took the positioning statement and ran a brainstorm with a bunch of linguistically-inclined friends. In 1.5 hours, we came up with 700+ names!

We later whittled those down to three names: [top choice], Coho, and Zeno

Yeah, there's a big delta in quality between #2 and #3 😅
Step 2: Try to acquire the domain names.

Krutal started researching the owners of these names. We mostly focused on .co and .com's, but also looked into a lot of other options.

Our [top choice] was owned by a big corporation - we'll call them [Owner]. Shit. This will be tough.
Luckily, they no longer used the name! So we shot our shot: I LinkedIn'ed the person in charge and they responded: "Thanks for reaching out. [Owner] is keeping the [top choice] domain."

I racked my brain to see if anyone I knew was connected at [Owner]
Turns out an old friend is connected. Time to call in a favor!

He connected us to someone else at [Owner] and we had a call.

I kept Krutal on speakerphone so he could listen in. We were pessimistic after the call and interpreted their goals as being financially-motivated.
We assumed it was out of our budget, and, shockingly, we GAVE UP. We thought it was better to focus our time on other names.

Started to reach out to the owners of Coho.co and Coho.com. We would go back to [Owner] later when we had more money.
For over 1 month, we never followed up with [Owner]. We tried every avenue to get to the owners of Coho. It didn't work; we couldn't even get them on the phone or via email!

Too bad for them - we probably would've paid good money for that name.
It was a tough spot. Investors and the public were constantly asking me what the name was and I had no leads, no idea of a timeline.

Frustrated, I finally reached back out to [Owner] almost 1.5 months later.

They responded and were willing to talk.

We *completely* underestimated [Owner]. They were far faster and more efficient than we expected. Also, they were willing to work with us on a part-cash, part-stock deal!

After a few conversations, we ended up with a deal that benefited both parties.
I feel kind of silly. We might've had this domain ~2 months earlier if I had just thrown out an offer on the first call. Or maybe it was good to feign a lack of interest for a few months. I don’t know.

Regardless, I’m super grateful that we were able to work out a deal!
We spent the next month or so finalizing the nitty gritty of the deal terms and finally signed the paperwork. Couldn't have done it without Krutal walking us through everything...

Some lessons we learned along the way:
1. Get help with naming. If you can, enlist a naming expert like Arielle (she is free for @firstround portfolio co's). If you can't, brainstorm names with a group of friends and keep a running list over a few months.

Be patient; names don't always reveal themselves right away.
2. Find a domain broker.

Do not negotiate for a domain without someone like Krutal helping! No really, don't even reach out without their help.

Good names require finesse; sometimes you want to go through the front door, sometimes you use a pseudonym to hide your identity.
3. Be persistent. As a domain owner, I get lots of pings for sprig.com. It's amazing how many of them don't follow up.

Also, learn what matters to the owner. We got creative to find the intersection between what we could afford and what [Owner] would accept.
4. Be patient. We operated for nearly 8 months without a name. We launched 4 courses, did hundreds of thousands in revenue, and raised $5M including a crowdfunding campaign.

It took discipline and we could've caved at any point.

Personally, I think it was worth the effort!
Excited to share what the name is soon! Thanks to everyone for the amazing support :)

To learn more about the company, check out our temporary website: bit.ly/wk-gb

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More from @gaganbiyani

23 Mar
Hard to read stuff like this IMHO. Grew up as an brown man after 9/11. Been called lots of names, "random" searched at the airport, etc.

Yet, this is an extremely privileged take.

Where you are from is the #1 first question asked by people I met while traveling.
Asking your ethnicity through the second question is such an opportunity to connect with people. If you say confidently and proudly where you are from, 90% of people will just continue to engage with you and ask more questions.

Most people aren't racist. They are race-curious.
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This is a wild story 👇🏾
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My physical health was better than ever, and people noticed. I was the perfect brand ambassador for a healthy food company.

Problem solved, right?
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