Startup Naming in 2016: TechCrunch Disrupt SF’s Startup Battlefield Name Roundup


TechCrunch Disrupt SF’s annual Startup Battlefield was last week, where 30 startups competed for 50 thousand bones.

Here at Catchword, we like to keep up with the shiniest tech innovation trends. But we pay even more attention to the new company names! (occupational hazard)

When I read about disruptive and innovative companies and services, I ask myself a few questions about the company’s name: Are the names forward thinking, with the stamina to stay fresh for a hundred years? Or do they seem like they are following the naming trends of yore? Do the names reflect the ingenuity of the company, lending priceless cachet? Or are the names derivative, holding back a company trying so hard to exude innovation?

Let’s see how names of the six finalists hold up!

EverlyWell offers quick and easy mail-order blood tests that can be shipped off and run through established labs. The name totally has the right tonality, and even though the ly ending is overused in startup naming, it is totally friendly and at least feels a little fresh coming in the middle of the name. But I’m not exactly sure what ever has to do with the core benefit of the service — the ease and comfort of being able to do a blood test from home on your own time. I think this name will work, but I suspect there was a better way to hint at what the service actually does. Grade: B

Carbon Health aims to provide a unified place for patients to track health data and interact with doctors, and for doctors, pharmacies, and labs to communicate with patients. Carbon Health could be a nice, clean, premium-sounding name in many regards — carbon makes diamonds, after all, and is what organic matter must contain to be organic. However, the associations with climate change are simply too strong in my mind for this name to work. Carbon dioxide, carbon footprint, carbon sequestration, carbon taxes… Climate change has become a big negative in public health as a result of extreme temperatures, drought, poor air quality, quicker spread of disease, and so forth, I’d stay away from carbon if I were these folks. Grade: D

Mobalytics was the WINNER of the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 startup competition. It offers coaching for video-game players by analyzing their play and telling them what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to improve. Great concept! I don’t play WoW, but I do play enough games to know that this would be super intriguing and very helpful, if I wanted to improve. However, the name very clearly suggests mobile to me. Mobile gaming may be part of their line-up in the future, but they are starting with World of Warcraft and then after that moving on to DoTA and Counterstrike, all of which require good old-fashioned computers. The lytics bit is good (and is a great example at how you can hint at what you do without being boring), but I honestly don’t know what Moba is supposed to suggest. The name has great flow, however, which is why I am giving this a B- instead of a C+. Grade: B-

BlazingDB is a new take on database management that uses graphics processing units (rather than computer processing units) to analyze massive amounts of data. Blazing is meant to communicate that using GPUs rather than CPUs is fast. Which it is. Though heat and fire metaphors are very common and perhaps overused to suggest speed, that’s not the part of the name I have reservations about. I have reservations about the other denotation of DB. Maybe nobody in the industry will read it that way because they are used to the acronym, but it isn’t beyond the pale. Grade: B-

Sqreen is a security service that monitors web-based apps for threats using a software-as-a-service approach. The name is simple, clean, and quirky, with a good double meaning. To a large extent, the trend of misspelling words came out of a need for cheap, available screen names and domains, and though misspelling are going slightly out of style (not to mention, the new gTLDs have somewhat reset the domain acquisition game), I think there is still a place for unexpected yet elegant misspellings like SqreenGrade: A

UnifyID thinks they’ve found a way to get rid of passwords once and for all. Their service tracks your behavior —  your typing cadence, locations, patterns of use, and more — to make sure it’s really you. If you are acting erratically, or they suspect a hacker has taken the reins, they’ll ask to validate your identity. But if it’s clear that it’s you, no passwords needed! At all! I would have really liked to get my hands on this name. To me, the ID abbreviation (short for “identification”) actually suggests passwords. That’s backward! Unify kinda sorta gets at what they do, which is build a comprehensive profile of users, and they do want to imply that this service can span platforms (you can use it for Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail, for example). But I don’t think unity of platforms is the most gripping or exciting component for the user. In my opinion, the really cool creative possibilities here lie in messages about identity rather than identification. The concept of a soul, spirit, persona, or true self — this is fertile naming ground. Grade: B-

Startup naming is difficult. It’s often the last thing entrepreneurs want to focus on. But taking the time to make sure your name is the best it can be is really important! It affects how fast a new company spreads or catches on, it affects how effective your marketing can be, and it greatly shapes the user’s personal relationship with the product or company. If you have any questions about naming your new company or product, give us a shout!