The Brands at Demo Day – Part 1

Brands at Demo Day

Y Combinator’s annual Demo Day always features interesting new products and services. This latest Demo Day, the eleventh one, was the biggest yet and seems to have had a higher level of experienced founders presenting. I wanted to share my opinion on some of the most memorable startup brands at demo day, both good and bad.

The range of name styles ran from keyword-based to invented brandable names. I skipped over names like FutureAdvisor (long, basic, and straightforward for their business) and 1000Memories (meh) and went straight to the ones that have the potential for a great brand, have a backstory, or at least made me look twice.

Gantto – Presented by Fed Barbagli and Chris Carlson, two experienced executives. Gantto is a web-based project management service. Great name. Project managers (your target audience) will get it, and it is playful enough to entice a customer away from the big boring behemoth that is Microsoft Project.


OhLife – Gives me a feel of teenage angst every time I read it. Maybe that’s the point?

AdGrok – The name has potential if they can brand it correctly. But that’s a big if, since it doesn’t have a fun, playful sound like “Google”. They say “grok” was coined by an author to mean “To understand profoundly and intuitively.” Ok, so it has a backstory for the founders, and if they become big it may mean something to their customers, but for now I just picture them trying to spell their name over the phone. How would you explain it (in the least amount of words, while trying to stay positive and clean)? “‘Grow’ with a ‘k'” would make me think “Krow” since the replacement game is usually with the first letter. “‘Flock’ with a ‘g'” is “Grock”. Hmm…

Lefttronic – Love it, but can’t quite put my finger on why, which is a quality of some of the best brand names. It hints at electronic or left-brained. It also makes me think of an extra monitor on my desk, or that sometimes data can “come out of left field”.

Whereoscope – Just doesn’t click with me. It is too long and too much of a mouthful to say. Will families adopt the lingo “where is Mandy on the Whereoscope”? I doubt it. – Using the .io or .us extension will only take you so far after you launch. Once you become more well known as “Chartio” (unless you want your customers saying “Chart dot io”, you will have to suck it up and buy, just like ended up becoming just

It is tricky evaluating what business will have success, and how much their name will or will not play in that success. A great business brand is a combination of a memorable business name, a solid brand strategy, and time. I only covered half of the presenters in this post. Next week will be the rest of the names that caught my attention…stay tuned!