On the Record: Pave.com

Short, English words can make some of the best brand names in existence. Couple the brand name with a top domain name, and you lay the groundwork for exponential company growth. In this On the Record case study, I talk with Matt Schulman, CEO, and founder of Pave, a company that has recently rebranded as Pave, securing the Pave.com domain name as well.

Matt is a former Facebook employee, leaving the company to create his own startup, as many former Facebook alumni have done.

The Beginning

Founded in October 2019 as Trove, Matt Schulman's company developed a suite of compensation tools to help companies plan, communicate, and benchmark in real-time.

Simply put, the company helps employers compensate their employees.

The name Trove, defined as a store of valuable things, was settled on after a lengthy search. According to Matt, "We did a branding process in 2019 and focused solely on the name without consideration of brand name availability. Trove was the winning name for the brand we liked the best."

Trove's branding process didn't take domain name availability into the equation, with Matt revealing that "trytrove.co was the best Trove-related domain available for a low price at that point in time."

Early in a company's lifecycle, product development and proof of concept could be considered to be a higher priority and better use of resources for most companies than acquiring a premium domain name.

Considering Domain Options

With $950,000 worth of funding secured by March 2020, Trove started to consider its domain options. "We tried to get Trove.com but unfortunately couldn't agree on a price with the owner of the domain,"

Clear that the company needed a better domain name than TryTrove.co, and with Trove.com a no-go, Trove started the process of rebranding.

Matt told me "we wanted a name that evokes progress and a forward-looking mindset. Compensation practices haven't changes much in the past decades, and we want to change that with an innovative outlook. I like that 'Pave' immediately makes people think of 'Pave the way'."

Domain name availability was crucial in rebranding, too. "We wanted a brand name that had an available domain name for a reasonable price," said Matt.

At the same time, Trove was still very much forging ahead with its product development and joined Y Combinator's class of summer 2020. Trove became one of the standout startups from the class.

Trove Becomes Pave

The attention gained off the back of Trove's appearance at Y Combinator meant that the team soon fielding inquiries from potential investors. According to Matt "it accelerated our desire to have a brand and domain name that we want to build on top of for decades to come."

The chosen brand name was Pave, and the domain name was Pave.com. How did the team go about acquiring such an incredible, ultra-premium .COM domain?

According to the WHOIS database's historical records, Pave.com was owned by Payfone Inc, a New York-based company that itself rebranded to Prove.com in 2020.

Schulman used a domain name broker to acquire the domain name and consulted the broker to determine the company's best offer for Pave.com.

Matt also spoke with other CEOs that had gone through a similar acquisition process to get an idea of what a domain name like Pave.com might be worth.

Rebranding as Pave

After securing the Pave.com domain name in October 2020, Matt and his team planned their rollout of the new brand. Regardless of the fact that the company was just over a year old, a rebrand takes a considerable amount of time to plan with many aspects to consider.

Was it an overnight transition, or was it a phased rollout? According to Matt, "It was overnight. It was a pretty stressful turnaround, but we did our best to make it a swift transition late one night in December. There was an accompanying press release the following morning."

The rebranding coincided nicely with the announcement of Pave's $16 million Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, the legendary venture capital firm that has previously invested in the likes of Facebook, Slack, and Clubhouse.

Trove's rebranding to Pave was accompanied by a mass of social media messages, blog posts, and a press release. The TryTrove.co domain name was also redirected to the new domain, Pave.com, where a message alerted visitors of Pave's rebrand.

With the rebrand in the past and the company owning Pave.com, Matt reflected on what the new domain name means to Pave "I'd like to think that it inspires confidence in how our customers and prospects dream about the future of compensation in a way that TryTrove.co did not do."

As for the future, Matt is excited "We are thrilled to build a brand centered around Pave.com for the next five years and beyond."