What’s in a name

So I disappeared from blogging for longer than I meant to because of a trip, but here’s to getting back into it -

One major thing that happened last week, is I actually thought of a name for my company that met all my requirements. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I have been agonizing over this for MONTHS, so I am extremely relieved. Here’s the story:

At startup weekend, I called the idea RedPen. My group loved it, the judges loved it, and I thought, “wow that was easy.” We came up with a cool design and made a prototype that felt good with the brand. We got free .co domains as part of the startup weekend package, got RedPen.co and didn’t look back.

RedPen initial design
RedPen initial design

…until after the weekend ended and we thought about making it into a real company. Then we checked out RedPen.com and found that it was not only unavailable, but there was a static “coming soon” page that sounded scarily like what we wanted to build. We spent a few hours one day having a huge brainstorming session for a new name. I wanted something that sounded good/was easy to say and spell and that was related to the idea in some recognizable or smart way.

We started with obvious ones like “InkWell” and “FirstDraft” and found none of the .coms were available, and most of them were already editing related services. We tried the made-up-word route with ideas like “Crittalk” and “Quilly” but either didn’t like them or they were already taken. Finally, we landed on “EditVine,” which always made me feel uneasy because I thought it sounded like a Vine video editor. Still, we were able to get the .com, and decided to run with it for a while.

EditVine branding
EditVine branding

I didn’t feel comfortable with it and kept brainstorming. I got lots of friends and family thinking about it too. We came up with things like “Wevision,” “Scrivoner,” “FriendsWithPens,” “Critiqueable,” “Quilluminati,” “Draftree” and so many more variations of things with words like “edit,” “group,” “draft,” “pen,” “quill,” etc that I could hardly sleep without dreaming about it. Almost all the good ones did not have domains that were available.

One day my mom wrote an idea to me – “UpWrite.” I liked it a lot because it was related, kind of a pun, but also very positive. To my massive dismay, the .com wasn’t available, but the .co was. I bought the .co and rebranded the site because I liked it so much. The .com was owned by one of those groups that buys domains and tries to sell them for thousands of dollars.

UpWrite prototype
UpWrite prototype

A few weeks later, I met with a serial entrepreneur that a friend had introduced me to and was discussing some of the problems I was facing with him. When the issue of the name came up, he said “you definitely should get a .com domain. It will save you a ton of trouble later.” After looking into paying a ridiculous amount for upwrite.com, I realized that upwrite.org already has something that looks a little too similar. The search began again.

I was starting to feel really stuck – like I couldn’t start with social media, couldn’t incorporate, couldn’t develop a brand to rally behind. I didn’t even really know what to call my company to people when I was talking about it. It felt like this somewhat invalid thing that I had actually quit my job for. I always had to add a caveat  - “Oh, it’s called UpWrite right now, it was called RedPen in the article I wrote, but actually it’s going to be named something totally different.. eventually.”

Last week, I was walking down Valencia street in the Mission in San Francisco, and I passed the BetaBrand store. I thought: “huh.. beta is an interesting word. It’s kind of like a draft,” and started playing with it in my head. BetaPen, BetaQuill, BetaWrite… WriteBeta. I whipped out my phone, as I am used to doing now when I think of a name that sounds decent and searched the domain availability. The .com was available, for only $8.99. I bought it immediately, signed up for the twitter handle, set up the facebook page, and then ordered a stiff cocktail at dinner. Done, and done.

So RedPen/EditVine/UpWrite is now officially dubbed WriteBeta. A site where you post the beta versions of your writing, that will help you “write better” as you get edits from the community. Logo is still TBD but I will post it all over the internets as soon as I can.

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