If you are about to start your first startup then finding and buying a domain name will be one of the tasks on your to do list.
When it comes to domain names the best possible top level domain (TLD) you can get for your startup is a .com.
Well, .com is familiar to people and comes with a sense of trust. It also positions you as a global company from day. Plus, some angel investors and venture capitalists put a high value on a good .com domain name.
However, acquiring the right .com isn't always possible. In fact, it's nearly impossible.
Most decent .com names are either taken or are going to cost you thousands of dollars, which is prohibitive for most early stage startup founders.
So what do you do? Here are some options:
Our approach to idea stage startups is always lean.
If it was our money we wouldn't spend such a high amount. In fact, I personally wouldn't pay more than $500 for a domain name for an idea stage startup. Even that price is very high with the target usually being less than $100.
We would rather see the $5,000 spent on delivering a superior product or into sales and marketing.
However, if budget isn't an issue feel free to splash the cash. Who knows, it could turn out to be a good investment even if the startup you buy it for fails.
For example, Dropbox first used getdropbox.com before purchasing dropbox.com.
We bought hellovoco.com last year to validate a startup idea. We wanted to call the company Voco (for The Voice Company) but voco.com wasn't available. Simply adding the word 'hello' meant we were able to purchase the .com domain at a low price. Plus, the 'hello' worked well for us as Voco is a voice application startup.
Another example that uses 'hello' is hellosign.com which was bought by Dropbox for $230 million in early 2019.
The recipe here is to take your company name and add short words to it. Words like up, hello, app, get, go, be, my etc.
You don't have to prefix your company name either. Buffer.com started out using bufferapp.com.
Try it and see if your .com becomes available at a good price.
If your startup is in a specific industry you might even find one of the recently released TLDs appropriate. For example:
As a side note to this, many startups in the artificial intelligence (AI) space have adopted the .ai TLD and good number of venture capital companies use the .vc TLD.
The Instagram example is also referred to as a domain hack.
Another example, is joy.cards which we recently purchased for a startup called Joycards. I suppose this is an example of a domain hack that doesn't use a country code TLD.
That's not to say your domain name isn't important. It is very important as it forms part of your branding and identity. The key is to be smart about it. Get creative and work within your startup constraints of time and money.
If your startup becomes successful you will probably end up purchasing the .com. You'll no doubt pay an even higher premium for the .com at that stage but you'll have the means to do it! 😄
Photo by Jeshoots on Unsplash
We're an experienced team of startup developers in Australia