How to find the right start-up name (and yes we’re scared of IBM)

So what’s in a name? The LearningStone crew can tell all about it! A lot of fun, endless brainstorms, a more than endless search for free or affordable domains, bidding on domain names, name testing with an international panel (friends and kind relations across the globe), a couple of bad ideas and then: on a very very happy day: we had it corned and found the name, the perfect name: LearningStone (we hope you agree!)


You might as well give up…

Start-ups have a rough time these days as online services have an international focus and need to have a name that works across the globe. We preferred a .com but fact is that there are already 150.000.000 domains .com registered. That is a crazy amount! There are not even 171.000 words in the Oxford dictionary so you might as well give up…


Our checklist

So this is what we wanted. A name that…

  1. sounds good.
  2. isn’t too hard to remember.
  3. sounds like something in the learning/training business.
  4. make’s us proud (we’re a start-up… we need to be proud).
  5. isn’t an embarrassment in another language.
  6. is Googleble.
  7. won’t make IBM sue us.


We had some specific wishes: we didn’t want the word Education, schools, etc. in it as our solution is aimed at training professionals not school teachers. We wanted it to sound great in English and pretty ok in as many European languages as possible.


The weird name thing

What we didn’t want is the weird name thing. In the past few years names like Mibblio, Kaggle, Shodogg, Zaarly have been on the rise. The founder of Kaggle actually wrote an algorithm to spot free domains generated from combinations of letters. It can be fun to have a crazy name (and hey Google, Flickr, YouTube are all pretty weird… so it can work) but we’ve been around for a while and even though wacky names might be Googleble, we are simply are a bit bored with it. Yes, taste also matters.


We are not in the railroad business

As we are in the professional training business, we spent a lot of time trying to find a great name with Train in it, only to hear from trainers that they hated it and to hear from others that it sounded like we were in the railroad business. Back to the drawing board, kill your darlings and all that.

If you have the money: go for less syllables but we decided to go for a good sound as it simply wasn’t doable to find a short .com domain (Our branding department just didn’t have the spare 100K).


A disease spelt backward

We don’t remember how the stone came about but we wanted the word Learning in the name after a lot of asking around. The first learning material in history is the Rosetta Stone (and already a great company producing language learning material) so we liked that and the solidness helped. We first considered LearnStone but we couldn’t get it fast enough and our panel just didn’t like it, so we went on to negotiate with the owner of LearningStone and after the price dropped a thousand dollars we were the happiest domain shoppers on the planet for 1200 dollars. One thing that we had learned: you might as well decide on a budget straight away. Paying nothing for a .com domain is hardly an option unless you’re going for a sixteen syllable word that sounds like a disease spelt backward.


Yes, we’re scared of IBM

We actually bought six other domains in the process that were all kicked out by our panel. One of the names (actually the winner of the first round with our panel) turned out to be an IBM trademark (true story). We pictured a very tall building filled with lawyers with nothing better to do than sue us out of existence, and we found a better name while we were at it. LearningStone it was!


A couple of services we used to search for names

Instant domain search:

Real time search and recommendations.

Whois by Domain tools

A good service for searching the Whois database for a domain owner. If it’s a big company it is sometimes impossible to find the legal owner. Just move on.


Domain auction. We noticed that they have a lowest bid at 69 dollars and that there are many automatic bidders going for the lowest bid. We managed to buy one of our domains for 72 dollars.


Domain real estate people. Excellent service if you’re in a hurry. You can call and negotiate.


A very international domain registrar. Quite expensive if you need a lot of domains but they offer more countries than any other registrar making it easy to centralize your domains through one service.


A huge domain market place but also offering a useful ESCROW service so that you can safely buy a domain from a stranger.


Disclaimer: The brand IBM and it’s logo are owned by International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”) . LearningStone is no way affiliated with IBM. And please don’t sue us, we’re just kidding 🙂


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