Picking a startup name has to be one of the most fun and openly creative processes. Compared to the importance of your product and market fit, it doesn’t really matter what name you choose.
That said, we didn’t want to end up feeling like this…
Exercise One: We are, we are not
Arts and crafts time! We had piles of newspapers, and ripped out things we are and things we are not, and stuck them on two sides of a big bulletin board. It’s similar to, if I were an article of clothing, k would be a “blank” and not a “blank”.
Kate and I posted one identical item – we ARE a Navy Blue Blazer, we ARE NOT a Tshirt.
Why? The blazer is your first professional, high versatile attire. They work with Jeans or Slacks and are something you buy when you get serious about your job hunt. That’s what we want to project. It’s a professional environment, but also not stuffy. Accessibility and versatility are also key. This exercise helped set the tone for the keywords we would use, and also provides a framework for our brand.
Exercise Two: Fast name iterations
We came up with a dozen keywords, that we felt represented the idea. The obvious ones were words like Mentor, Advisory Board, Preparing, Coffee Talk, Network.
Then set a timer for 1-3 minutes, and ‘word vomit’ as many iterations of the word as possible in a row. The result (red cards on the right) is pretty cool. We then vote on the top ones, and make a cleaned up grid (blue cards on the left).
Exercise Three: Practical gut check
The three big ones are
- USPTO Search
- URL Availability
- Competitive Name Search
We settled on Wisr. practically speaking, we were able to buy wisr.io for our application URL and getwisr.com for a downstream sales website URL.
Further, we zoomed out, and saw a grander vision than managing mentorship interactions between students and alumni. If we pegged the product against words like “mentor” or “career prep”, it would lessen our flexibility. Our minimum viable product is focused on testing and understanding an advisory session, it’s our unit of value. We are in the business of transferring Wisdom – tacit knowledge that can only be gained from experience.
After these exercises, codifying the brand and name become much easier. Little Jacket came to us with a navy blue (like a blazer) owl that incorporates an infinity loop similar to a celtic knot (symbolizing wisdom).