Notice that short URL in your browser above? We’re now officially using knack.com for our domain!
It’s a big milestone for us and we thought we’d share a little about how we came to this point.
A brief history of our name, or, how ‘My Sharona’ became the Knack theme song.
Part of the fun of starting a new Internet company is coming up with the name.
A million ideas jump out immediately. You try to be clever or incorporate some quality puns, and all of them are terrible. Eventually you have a few respectable ideas you hope have available .com domain names.
None of them will have an available .com domain name.
When we first started Knack we gave naming an honest try but quickly gave up. This was during the app boom and absolutely everything was taken (including appenstein.com, an early favorite).
We saved our effort and used a temporary working name so terrible the .com was available: appnowgo.com. This domain lasted over 2 years! To make a terrible name even worse we decided to add an exclamation point to the logo.
Every now and then we’d muster the courage to consider a new name but never got anywhere. Eventually we had to launch, and either we were launching with appnowgo.com (shudder) or we needed to commit to a new name and stick with it.
We decided on a plan B: use a name you like that has limited exposure and resort to .com alternatives. When you’re desperate, you start to consider funky spellings, exotic domain suffixes, or combining other words to find an available domain.
For us, our word was knack. It was short, it had connotations of effortless skill, and we liked the idea of enabling anyone to have a ‘knack’ for building online database apps.
We chose the ‘adding words’ strategy and launched with knackhq.com.
Knackhq.com served us well for 3 years, but we always wanted the built-in credibility that comes with owning the short version of your name. For us this was knack.com.
You can argue over whether domains even matter that much, and in some sense they do not. If you build a stellar product that is meeting the needs of a passionate customer base, those customers will find you even with a confusing URL.
We need our customers to understand that seriousness, and having the canonical domain is a subtle way to reinforce our credibility: that we’re here to stay, that we’re not just a fly-by-night startup, that we’re dreaming big.
So how did we get knack.com?
There are encouraging stories out there of negotiating cheap buy-outs of domains from someone who parked it 5 years ago and forgot, or even trading some shares in the company to a domain shark who refused to give it up cheap.
Our problem was that knack.com was not parked somewhere and forgotten, or owned by someone with any interest in giving it up. It was owned by the old band The Knack, redirecting to their main site at http://www.theknack.com.
Remember this song? That’s them.
We reached out quite a few times but could never get a response.
Recently we discovered they were using GoDaddy for their domains, so we took a chace on their professional domain brokering service. Somehow it worked! GoDaddy was able to connect with the band’s IT manager and we started negotiations.
It went much more smoothly than we anticipated. They were mainly concerned that the price would exceed the E-Commerce sales that came from the domain. It was a range we were (barely) comfortable with, and now we’re the proud owners of knack.com!
Ultimately it may not be a huge deal, but to us it feels like another milestone in our journey from a tiny startup to a company building a world-class product.
Now please go to http://www.theknack.com/merch/ and help support our new favorite band!