The right name and URL can make the difference between an Internet hit or a quickly forgotten miss. When TJ McNamara and Scott Scheinbaum wrestled with what to call their online bartering site, they went through hundreds of names—"and out of those names, we would lock up 20 or 30 domains, boom, one after another," McNamara says.
Originally, their idea was to create a trading site intended primarily for teenagers, and the chosen name was going to be "TeenTrade."
"We found out that teenagers really only want to be called a teenager the day they turn 13," McNamara says. "They want to be a teenager at 11 and 12—after 13 they want to be young adults. And that was a learning process. The whole thing has been a learning process."
That included figuring out they should just have one site for all users instead of trying to aim different sites at different age groups. So they eventually bought about 40 different names for the now single, all-ages site. McNamara knew he wanted the word "trade" in the name, and came up with "Tradingo" and "Tradango." After consulting "every one of my daughter's friends, my buddies' kids, my co-workers' kids," Tradingo won.
And then they found out someone already owned the .com URL.
"The funny thing was, I tracked down the guy who owned Tradingo.com through the WHOIS database, and I called him," Scheinbaum says. "He's a very nice guy from Bangladesh, I think. We're talking, and he says, ‘People tell me this name is worth $20,000.' ‘You know, sir, I'm sure they have. And I don't mean to be rude, but how many $20,000 offers have you gotten for the name in the two years you've had it?' ‘Oh, not a one.' ‘I am prepared to pay you $1,000.' ‘Oh, very good!'"
McNamara and Scheinbaum say they believe they've found the right combination of catchiness and ease of spelling, while still conveying what the site's about. Of course, the true measure of success will be if people start referring to it, without having to explain what it means, like "eBay" or "Craigslist."