Why I spent $7500 on a single domain when I only had $8000 in my bank account!
Back when I started Animaker, I only had one mission in mind — to change the way people created videos.
In my journey towards achieving that mission, I faced a lot of obstacles. Even naming Animaker as Animaker wasn’t easy.
Initially, when we started working on Animaker in the year 2014, we originally named it as AnimR as it was the short form for Animation under research.
I introduced the name to my internal team first to see if they could connect with it. They couldn’t instantly connect with the name, and I had to give an explanation to convince them.
But then I thought to myself how can I sell my product to customers if I had to explain its name to every single one of them. That’s when I decided to come up with another cool name.
I started researching for similar names that are catchy and can convey the meaning of the product to the end users. So after doing a month of research, I came up with a few names for the product.
Most of the names that I came up with were already used by some other businesses or had trademark & copyright constraints. But one name stood out, which was Animaker.
I was instantly in love with the name as it perfectly conveyed what the product is all about.
“Animation + maker = Animaker”
For further validation, I introduced Animaker to my team, friends, family and my mentors to see if they can connect with it. To my surprise, 90% of them weren’t convinced with the name!
But I couldn’t give up, I knew I had to convince just one person to proceed further.
Convincing my Co-founder
My co-founder and buddy Logu was not convinced with the name either. So I made a deal with him. If 100 random people could instantly figure out what Animaker is without us explaining it to them, then we should proceed with this name.
I showed him the math; In the next ten years, even if we pitch Animaker to 1 million users and if we don’t have to explain the name for a minute to each of the users, we may end up saving 1 million minutes which is equivalent to 1.9 years!
Somehow he agreed to the deal as my crazy calculations convinced him. But to my dismay, only 50% of the people were able to figure out that Animaker is “Animation + maker”.
Even though this experiment failed, I still had the feeling that Animaker is the right name for the product!
How we got animaker.com
I started my search for the availability of the domain name on godaddy.com, but it didn’t go well. At that time in 2014, .co domains were very famous, but I felt uncomfortable taking it, even though people suggested me to go for it.
Then I found another site called Domain Market where I found that animaker.com was listed for sale. I was very happy to see the domain available for purchase but the pricing was not mentioned.
When I enquired for a quote, I got a mail from the domain consultant that I had to pay $15,000 to own it.
Suddenly I felt as if my dreams were shattered. At that time, I was also the founder of Bode Animation, a full-service video production house servicing fortune 500 companies. But still we were a bootstrapped startup and $15,000 was huge for us.
I kept following up with the domain consultant for any considerable discount offers and managed to bring the price down to $7500.
Even that was costly for us. We just had $8000 in the bank with lots of upcoming bills & paychecks to be cleared. I had a feeling that this may backfire, but my intuition convinced me to go for it. And finally, we bought animaker.com
The tweet that motivated us😛
The next day when I walked into the office, my co-founder showed me this tweet from the domain owner.
I was able to see both anger & anxiety in Logu’s face but as usual, I convinced him by saying “Animaker just got its ex-owner 100X ROI, we will get more than that!”
All is well!
Today Animaker has grown into a family of 1.5 million users and has garnered us millions of revenue. And that domain and product name played a vital role in our growth story.
Till date, I have named more than 10+ products/companies in my life starting from my school project on ceiling cellphones to a DIY tool which is currently used by 1.5 Million users from 180+ countries.
Naming a product & choosing its domain have been some of the crucial decisions I have made during my entrepreneurial journey. I never met the expectations on naming/domain, but definitely my decision vs success ratio has improved over the years.
I learned the art of naming products and companies from the mistakes I’ve committed during the journey. I have even helped my friends in naming their companies.
Here are 3 Golden Rules to Follow when naming your product:
- Don’t try to convince everyone. It is impossible!
- Tell your brand name once to people, and they shouldn’t ask you to repeat or spell it.
- Win both the wars. Unique vs common name (Google vs Apple)
Google is a unique name which no one has ever heard before. Apple is common & easy to remember.
Takeaway for future Entrepreneurs
I am not asking you guys to blow off your money on premium domains instead just follow your intuition. It may either help you or teach you a lesson.