The Name Game: Interview with Mike Macadaan – Part 1

name your companyMike Macadaan has seen his share of .com names. As the founder of Twiistup, he sorts through hundreds of them to select the contestants for Southern California’s largest tech show-off.  Every year it sells out to entrepreneurs, press, technologists, and VC’s.

When we told Mike about BrandBucket, his first reaction was “Man! I wish I knew about that earlier!” He had been through his share of naming sessions.

He is now the head of product and design for Tsavo, a new online publishing company spinning out new ventures such as Daymix, Twirlit, Manolith, Kidglue, and Nibbledish. Constantly looking for names, he has taken the art of naming and turned it into a science (stay tuned for future posts where we will reveal that formula).

“It’s a frustrating process, because historically you never had to name your company based on domains, but now you’re at the mercy of what’s available. But at least your competitors are in the same boat.”

Mike engages in naming on a day-to-day basis as Tsavo owns a lot of properties.

“When you first pick a name, you have to deal with it through the development process. So you can let it bake and see if it ends up working with what you developed.  Sometimes it’s not the same product that you started with, and the same goes for the name.”

Mike is used to dealing with a lot of different stakeholders, not just the developers.

“When you have a name that came from the VC or the founder or the CEO,  and they’re attached to it, then you have to shoehorn the product to the name. But it should really be the other way around. The name should reflect the brand attributes. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way.”

Mike saw it first hand when he worked in product development at AOL.  His boss was attached to the name “Magnet” but of course all the iterations were unavailable. They finally went with Mgnet and everyone who saw it pronounced it “mignet.”  He said it was the biggest mistake for the product.

Mike’s parting advice:  “Don’t rush out the door with the name and make a mistake. I remember a company that started with the name Xoopid (pronounced Zoopid”). Even for those who could say it, it sounded like “stupid.”