A Domain is Worth a Thousand Words Part II: Startups who built on Premium Domains... and Startups who didn't

A Tale of Two Startups… Startups who invested in premium domain monikers, and startups who did not…

In Part I we discussed domain acquisition essentials for Startups & Entrepreneurs.

We particularly highlighted the credibility, branding, and search engine advantages for a startup owning a premium domain. We also discussed how a domain broker can help keep a domain acquisition on track and on budget. For Part II now, let’s look at some specific examples…

Savvy Entrepreneurs Choose One Word Premium Domains: Can you hear me now?

Forbes recently wrote a detailed, well-researched article advocating for startups to spend VC funding on a domain name. Some fantastic examples included how Mint.com beat Wesabe & its other competitors. Mint credits the #2 reason for their success to their premium domain name. Mint’s #3 for success is Trust, much of which they state is also due to their one word domain. Back when Amazon.com was just a new struggling startup, visionary Jeff Bezos knew he needed a one word domain with branding potential.

He saw his company as more than a Books.com, but something offering a huge, expansive inventory.  Thinking of Abracadabra, but knowing it was too long, he chose Cadabra.com… until his attorney misheard him and thought it was Cadaver.com! Great lesson, entrepreneurs- don’t give your business a name that has a horrible doppelganger! Care.com is another prime example of a one word domain a startup used to build a giant. In a unique approach, the founders of Care.com accepted the multiple uses of their domain and embraced them all. The Care.com marketplace connects care for babysitting, seniors, pets, and more. The brand name is easy to remember… And the premium one word domain provides instant credibility.

Changing your startup’s domain name: An old dog can learn new tricks!

There are countless stories of startups rebranding midstream, such as the successful evolution from Healthscape to Healtheon to WebMD. Ask.com, originally founded as AskJeeves.com, knew they needed to reposition as Google began dominating the web. The second most searched keyword on AskJeeves.com and other competing search engines was “dictionary.” In 2006, recognizing an opportunity to reposition and stand out, they simplified, rebranding on premium domain Ask.com.

But, that wasn’t enough, considering they were in an epic struggle with Google… It took two years to negotiate terms, but in 2008, they finally acquired the Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, and Reference.com premium domain names and businesses.  Ask.com salvaged and redefined their place on the internet with exact match domain names. Now a flagship site, Thesaurus.com is the #2 ranked site on Alexa for kids & teens, only second to ESPN. It is the only non-entertainment site in the top 10- miles higher than Google & Wikipedia. Now that’s success!

Premium stories about premium domains… But let’s get down to brass tacks for my startup?

The success of budding startup companies tell the same story time and again- a premium domain name is key.  To any entrepreneur building a budget and a timeline, we strongly recommend planning out a premium domain acquisition.  Whether upfront, with VC funding, or after initial success, most every successful business is built on a memorable domain brand. Work with a domain broker in your planning process.

Then, work with your broker again when it’s time for an acquisition. Look at the Mint.com story- they couldn’t afford the domain, so they gave equity. Here at Media Options, we are very flexible and willing to find a way to work together that meets everyone’s needs. We have represented a number of large, medium and small entities in making private domain acquisitions and sales.  We have an array of experience brokering under all sorts of circumstances and under various terms. We’re happy to help our clients find the right domain… and to negotiate the best terms to build a flourishing business on it!