Friday, June 10, 2011

The Domain Name Arbitrage (Name Game)

I guess I've entered this game very late! As in really late. Due to the recent turn of things, I was trying to think of company names and product names. The first round went pretty well, we came up with many different ideas for cool names right from Lemonade Ventures to many such things! We actually worked on a huge list, then ran a vote with veto powers granted to each of us and finally arrived at 3 short-listed names!

We took another few days to come up with one name from this one! And when we then go ahead to be excited! We realized that someone is holding on to that domain name. (We had just googled to see if there's a website with that name and found none). We wrote to the guy who owns that name and they replied saying they were willing to sell the name for 5000 Euros!! A domain name that costs around 10 dollars! We then woke up and as we checked many of the other names in the list, we realized that almost 60% of the names we had thought of were mostly randomly registered by someone even if they were not using it!

I guess there are a number of interesting categories of folks here:

  1. The category that just likes to accumulate cool names (mostly for personal use). They like a name, they register and keep it so that when and if they decide to start a business, they can use the name
  2. The category that are actually working on a business plan and are looking for suitable names for their new company/product
  3. The category that is scouting the internet space to reserve all the names they can think of will with sole intention of holding it till someone wants it and then selling it for the best price!
The first two categories are harmless but the last one seems to be holding a large majority of the names available on the internet! I wonder if there's some international body that can ban such practices! You feel so bad when you actually have to negotiate for 1000s of dollars with these guys just because they are holding on to a name you like! 

Anyways, here are my tips to startups looking to come up with their brand name or product name:
(Contrary to what you're thinking right now, this process is a very difficult and long process. I think it may be easier for you to come up with your business plan etc before you are able to finalize the right name)

Step 1

Think of the key messaging "phrases/terms" that your product or service is out there to establish. Ideally, white board all of these terms and words. Your product name should ideally be a combination or contain any of these terms.

Step 2: 

Open the site called Instant Domain Search

This site actually shows you in real time as you think the availability of domains on .com , .org and .net . This allows for the process of eliminating, accepting a name right at the early stages. 

I stayed on this site for about 3 days before I was able to come down with a list of any sort to choose from.

Step 3:

If none of the names that you think of in combination of the keywords that you have on your whiteboard, then go to an online dictionary and look for synonyms of each of your keywords. As you go through this process, a number of new ideas and names will pop up into your head again. 

Important point to note: It is important to take a break once in a while and clean your head! You may be biased towards a few names which at that stage may not be available. You will end up trying to find names that sound like what you like earlier or you will keep trying to find names that end with some keyword you like. So once in a while, try your best to start with a clean slate, both the whiteboard and the mind!

Once you like a name, you can use the Instant Domain Search to go to GoDaddy and register the domain name using your credit card. (There are a number of other payment options too). While you are making your payment, you may want to consider buying other domains apart from the .com (,, etc). GoDaddy generally gives you huge discounts when you buy the entire package!

All the best with your brand/product name for your startup!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

iPhone 4 Vs Blackberry Bold || Work - Life Balance

This post is long due! Alright, I admit, any post is long due! Blame my break from blogging to twitter! Twitter makes you feel you feel you are blogging though you really are posting a bunch of status updates and sharing links! Well, that's why they call it a "micro-blogging" experience I guess!

Anyways, to get to the point, as all my friends would say and I openly admit, I'm an Apple Fanboy and I would actually close my eyes and recommend any Apple product over another. I have gone to the extent of convincing so many of my friends to buy an iPhone or Macbook Pro! I've even been promoting the Magic Mouse! Ha ha.... I think I should ask Apple for a sample iPad 2 from them (I still don't have an iPad)

I stayed away from Blackberry with the idea that the only "Smart" phone in the world was made by our High Commander - Steve Jobs. However, about 6 months ago, my company put a Blackberry into my hand! The Blackberry Bold. I cursed saying why couldn't companies just use iPhones instead of Blackberries! I would actually get into huge debates with many of my friends, colleagues on the benefits of an iPhone over a Blackberry (without even actually using a Blackberry). But now, after I got one, I decided to give the BB a fair shot at being a competitor in the smart-phone market.

After 6 months of using an iPhone 4 and the BB Bold together (I use two phones), I must say that the Blackberry is not as bad as I thought. Of course, the first moment I got the phone and spent some time playing on it, I was like "What the hell is on this phone and why do people even spend so much to get something of this sort"..... But over time, as I used it, I realized that the reason why I would advocate a Blackberry is the very reason why Apple is winning market share, Android is gaining ground and so are others. THE APPS!

The very reason why people use the iPhone (the Huge App market) could possibly be the greatest reason I would advocate the Blackberry. Now hold your horses here folks, I have not come to the point where I announce a winner in this contest. The Blackberry is seriously, honestly a "business phone". A no-nonsense phone that lets you view your email, have corporate and other IM clients, use BBM (Another super winning proposition) and is well integrated to your office outlook email client! People who basically are looking for a phone to work as an extension to their office laptop/work station will surely swear by a Blackberry! Add to that the great battery life and the tactile feedback you receive from the keyboard (The Physical keyboard Vs on-screen keyboard of the iPhone). This phone is a clear winner with the older generation folks who are using it for business. Add to that the excellent Blackberry Messenger. Way ahead when compared to Whatsapp, skype, YM etc... and very simple interface! Delivers on what its meant to do.... And if you have a decent number of people using BBM, then you would surely want to hang on to your Blackberry!

But if you want your phone to move with the advances in the technological space, or you want your phone to allow you to browse smartly, book movie tickets, get a flight ticket, book a domain name, tell you what to eat, how to diet, where's the nearest free wifi network, how many liters of water to drink a day or basically anything else - that's got to be the iPhone (or atleast an android)! The other day, I was standing in the Thai airways check in counter (I had forgotten to do a web check-in before arriving to the airport). This was a huge line and it was moving pretty slowly. I took out my iPhone, downloaded the Thai airways app and did a mobile check in right then. And then I moved to the Web Check-In counter with a smirk on my face! Go iPhone! Yet another day, I wanted to get a domain name registered quickly and I was out travelling. The data card on my laptop had like the most hopeless speeds when I was trying to get it registered. Out came my iPhone, Godaddy has an app! I did the registration in 5 minutes! When Apple advertises saying "There's an App for that", they really do mean it!! Of course, I have to carry my charger wherever I go, coz with my usage, I don't get more than 7 to 8 hours, that too after I have reduced the screen brightness to the point of it going off! Also, add to that the on-screen keyboard which only gives you visual feedback (Which means you actually need to look at your keyboard). The keypad does have its strengths though. As I've mentioned earlier, after a point, the keyboard almost understands what's in my BRAIN! It autocompletes stuff!! That's like super awesome! And the awesome screen real estate on the iPhone beats the Blackberry hands down. Makes browing on the iPhone a much more pleasant experience. It also lets me view many more tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook!

The Verdict

iPhone 4 hands down for folks who are looking to their phone to sort out any issue while they are on the move. It seriously seems to have a solution for everything! And never lets you feel disconnected from the world (The internet) at any place as long as you have a data plan enabled

The Blackberry for people who are looking to work 24x7. Who don't want to get distracted by everything else the world has to offer and miss their office laptops/email the second they are away from it. For people with a lot of friends on their BBM!