There are a couple of questions I ask every entrepreneur because I think you always get a good story out of it. The founding story is always great. I am always fascinated by how people come up with ideas. Also, no founding is super smooth, but the bumps in the rose are how you take time to smell the roses. The other story I always ask is how they came up with the name. I think there are two schools of thought when it comes to naming businesses.
The first school of thought is to name the company based on what it is. This is the Microsoft, Advertising.com, Coca-Cola, Cogmap school of company names. This is a great approach because when the name says what the company does, all you have to do is hear the company name and you kind of know what the company does. Software, online advertising, cola. maps of cogs. Done.
The second school of thought is the random name strategy. Yahoo!, Google, eBay, NetGravity, Engage, and Group Cortex are all examples of this approach. The benefit of this approach is flexibility. Most companies don’t end up doing what they started out to do, so picking a name you can keep using when you change businesses can be nice. This also gives you a name you can kind of grow with. Great counter-example here is GE. General Electric used to be a name that told you what they did. Now they do everything so the name is no longer the asset it was from a descriptive value objective.
Cogmap definitely is an example of the name it what it does school of thought, however it is kind of tongue in cheek. I will talk about how we named it in my next post because someone might think that is kind of funny.