Where did London’s hottest start-ups get their names?

What’s in a name? Absolutely everything. So we’ve asked some London greats how they got theirs.

As any founder of any company will tell you, coming up with a suitable title for your company can be a long and laborious task filled with anguish and doubt. Sleepless nights, caffeine-fuelled brainstorms, Post-It notes, coloured markers, mood boards, heads banged against walls – all in the pursuit of the perfect title.

So how did London’s hottest start-ups come up with their distinctive names?

Songkick

What it does: Songkick is an online database of concerts for music enthusiasts. It lets you track your favourite bands by sending you email alerts and personalised calendars so that you never miss a concert.

Story behind the name:

These musical management geniuses are pretty organised when it comes to making sure you catch your favourite band – they were also remarkably organised when it came to finding their perfect name. Here’s the science bit…

“We spent a long time on criteria,” says Pete Smith, co-founder and COO. “Figuring out useful filters we would use as rules for generating names; we also read blog posts and a book on naming and branding.

“We settled on a number of boundaries like one or two syllables, ending in a verb, easy to spell and nice to say. And, of course, .com domain not taken. We put all .com domain names that were already taken out of our minds, however much it pained us, as it would cost $10k+ to buy a .com domain and we didn’t have the cash!

“Based on these ‘Criteria’, we made lists of all the words we wanted to associate with our brand (e.g. music, live, concert, listen, song etc.) Eventually we had decided ‘song’ was to be the first syllable and didn’t deviate from that, and then we looked for a second word to go with it.

“It took us a couple of weeks doing a bit of work here and there, then a final full-on 48-hour push, to find the name Songkick. We asked some friends and contacts what they thought, nobody hated it, and we didn’t hate it either. We went with it and moved on to the next item on the to-do list!”

Huddle

What it does: Huddle is a leader in cloud collaboration and content management for enterprise. Huddle is used by more than 85,000 organisations worldwide to securely manage projects, share files and collaborate with people inside and outside of their business.

Story behind the name:

Cloud collaboration champion Huddle was established in 2006 with offices here in London and one in San Francisco. A beautifully tangible name that produces feelings of warmth and cosiness, it’s perfect for a brand that “helps people work better together”.

So how did the founders come to this snuggly name?

“We decided on Ninian Solutions as the name for the holding company, inspired by one of Ali’s (Alistair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO) grandfather’s inventions – Ninian, the largest concrete platform ever built,” explains Andy McLoughlin, EVP strategy and co-founder.

“However, we still had no name for the product. One of Ali’s tasks was to come up with a list of potential names and he met me with a sheet of 50 options – as you might expect 49 were pretty awful but sitting in the middle of the list was Huddle.

“With team huddles often used to describe staff meetings, and people often huddling together to communicate ahead of sports matches, I instantly knew we’d found our product name.

Mendeley

What it does: Mendeley helps to manage and share academic knowledge: Mendeley Desktop is free academic software (Windows, Mac, Linux) for managing and sharing research papers.

Story behind the name:

The academic team behind Mendeley have created a way to organize, share, and discover research papers. Their software helps you to explore research trends and connect to other academics in your discipline. If your friendly thesis needs a social media tool of its own – this is it.

So what’s in the name?

“When we got started with our idea,” explains Dr. Victor Henning, co-founder & CEO. “The working title of the project was “Literacula” because we imagined how our software would sink its teeth into literature and automatically (supernaturally?) suck the metadata out of it. Besides, the cheesy “B-movie monster” sound of the name made us giggle.

“We tossed around quite a few and got mixed reactions: Horizontina (“how do you pronounce that?”), Horizontas (“Pocahontas?”), Theora (“sounds boring”), Sciendia (“too generic”), Scientree (“nah”), Thoughtweaver (“too much like Dreamweaver“), and the list goes on.

“But we felt we were on to something: Scientists’ names! Just as Gregor Mendel studied the inheritance of traits in plants, Mendeley will enable you to trace how ideas and academic theories evolve and cross-pollinate each other.

“Dmitri Mendeleyev formed the periodic table based on the properties of known elements, then used this data to predict the properties of elements yet to be discovered – and Mendeley will help you discover new literature based on the known elements in your library.”

Poke

What it does: Creative company that works with brands to produce digital campaigns

Story behind the name:

Digital creative types at Poke describe themselves as “smart, creative, nerdy and nice.” They spend their time creating marketing campaigns and doing general magic in the land of intergoogles. Is it jiggery-pokery?

“The reason we went for poke is that at the time (2001) we thought our industry sucked and wanted to poke it,” says founder and CEO Nicolas Roope. “We were also passionate about interaction (and still are) and we thought ‘poking’ was a slightly more provocative way of saying ‘engagement’ (and less boring).

“Five years later Facebook came along with poke and we ended up in court over the TM use and we won our right to use it!”

Zolmo

What it does: A software, publishing and development company, it designs and builds lifestyle and entertainment applications.

Story behind the name:

Appetising app builder Zolmo has taken that step and added a new word to our vocabulary. The founders have broken the unwritten “don’t start your name with X or Z” rule but it appears to have worked. Using typical tech tactics, instead of sitting round in a boardroom for three days reeling off letters – they built a programme.  

CEO Tristan Celder explains: “We were trying to come with a name and it was very important to us that we liked it, but we needed to find a five letter domain name. We were having trouble finding a word that was still available so we wrote a programme to choose one for us.

“The programme basically takes a list of syllables, consonants and vowels and puts them together in different sequences whilst searching whether they have free domains or not.

“We scoured through the list and picked out the vaguely pronounceable ones! Zolmo stuck as it sounded quite quirky.”

Conversocial

What it does: Conversocial provides a single platform for managing social media.

The story behind the name:

The social media nuts at Conversocial help businesses with their social media work-flow by creating an integrated marketing and customer service software for Facebook and Twitter. They streamlined their “naming” work-flow by using an existing domain – lucky sods.

“We were really lucky with Conversocial,” explains CEO Joshua March. “We were brainstorming names, and the best we’d come up with was Social Response, but it was a bit boring. Then Dan Lester, my co-founder, decided to have a look through the list of domain names which he’d bought over the years when he had thought of a word or came across a free .com he liked… and discovered Conversocial.com, which he’d registered years before!

“We all loved it so took it on and already had all the domains registered.”

The Tin

What it does: TheTin creates digital solutions for a variety of clients across different business sectors from online marketing campaigns to managing information.

The story behind the name:

Digital agency TheTin may sound like a skinny-black-jean-wearing indie band from Dalston but the story behind the name makes it all seem so clear as explained by co-founder Tim Harper.

“TheTin was founded in the shadow of the first dot com crash, Jamie Simmonds my co-founder and I had seen and worked with a lot of people that talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk.

“Adamant that the company name would follow rock and roll’s greatest with a leading definite article the final part of the name came from the company’s foundation on delivery or its promise that it would do exactly what it says on The Tin!”

slot.com

What it does: sletoH.com is a free and independent hotel comparison service that compares lots of hotel reservation websites to find cheap hotel deals.

The story behind the name:

This enigmatic title is oh so obvious when you work it out - Hotels backwards. The CEO if this hotel price comparison site came up with the name of his dreams…or did he?

“Strangely I woke up one morning and it was in head,” explains CEO Ben Jackson. “And I decided to go with it at the time, but I regret it now!”

 

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