in the beginning…
Back in 1999 when I founded and registered my software consulting company, Wazoo Enterprises Inc., there really was no popular “best practices” when starting out with your own independent company.
The internet as we know it – in other words, websites in a web browser – were only just starting to form and take shape.
In some ways, it was a fun time because everyone was learning and figuring things out together.
I was working primarily at the time with Netscape Navigator 4.76, and was getting interested in a few technologies; Cold Fusion, ASP and Java Servlet Pages.
Yeah — I know.
Back to my consulting company, I was really entirely handling sales and marketing through just simple basic people networking. I wasn’t paying for any advertising, and I didn’t have really any visibility through my company website – https://wazooinc.com.
After a few years, I realized that I was sort of stuck and needed to make some hard decisions about the company. I usually had one “large” project, along with a few “small” projects. I was grateful for the work, and was still handling the advertising through just personal networking – along with occasional recruiter help.
Even though I was exclusively doing web development for clients, I was falling far short within my own company.
My traffic numbers were quite small, which resulted in me lowering my priority around updating the site from time to time, to add or update content. This only reinforced the low web traffic numbers, and thus the cycle continued.
I was grateful for the work, but my overall web “presence” was quite dead.
being unable to describe, means being unable to pitch
One valuable lesson I’ve had re-inforced through the years, is that in order to market and advertise my company, it’s quite essential to first be able to provide a coherent “elevator pitch” of your offering – aka. “what do you do?”
While the company primarily provides web software consultancy, I have always had a dream to be able to shift the work towards product development.
naming things is still hard
After feedback from various local networking events, friends and industry peers, it was pretty clear to me that while I don’t have any need to change my legal company name, I did need to come up with an alternative site name to market and advertise.
Something more descriptive.
My first domain of wazooinc.com initially came about due to web tech companies at the time that pushed themselves to come up with a single word domain (and company name).
While not always very descriptive (how could it be), it was an extremely popular practice that still continues today.
digg.com, slashdot.org, yahoo.com, apple.com, microsoft.com, …
thus the original wazooinc.com came about – it was BOTH a “.com” AND a “one word” domain.
That’s nice but what should I re-brand my company TO?
In the start of Web 2.0, a lot (LOT) of companies in tech were branding themselves with a name + number –
“42 studios”, “58 creations”, and of course the most famous of famous, “37 signals”…
I tried a lot of iterations and brainstorming of number + name, but just couldn’t come up with anything I liked.
Scratch this off the list.
domain contractions are cool yo
Then came a period of iterating through experiments that tried to use a clever contraction of the name + domain.
bit.ly, soft.ly, hard.ly, brush.co, …
When meeting people or talking to anyone on the phone however, I imagined trying to spell and clarify a “cute” domain contraction name and decided this wasn’t going to work for me.
fuzzy animals are the key y’all
Another company name trend was to use some kind of animal name within the domain.
turtlebeach.com, turbowolf.com, eaglesoft.com, …
Nothing inherently wrong with this approach. I did have the domain bluemoonturtle.com for a short while, which I felt was only moving my efforts laterally. Instead of going through this renaming effort and coming out the other side feeling like progress was made, I was instead feeling that there was no difference in communicating “wazooinc.com” and “bluemoonturtle.com”.
much small companies just using “technologies” or “digital”
Taking a step back and trying to evaluate my company’s efforts, I had to admit that I identified a LOT more with smaller companies and consultant groups instead of the multi-million dollar multi-nationals. Go figure.
These outfits mostly just have a long domain with “technologies”, “consulting”, “digital” or “software” somewhere in there.
To me these felt extremely “long”, and the majority of the small businesses I came across just used their website as a brochure – just a business placeholder.
I didn’t want this at all, I still wanted something with a lot more presence.
Scratch – BUT I did like the idea of having something descriptive in the domain name…again “wazooinc.com” has no indication of ANY kind of what my company does.
must not mention “design” and “web” together
One important lesson I had to learn while talking to clients, is that any mention of “design” and “web” (or the hint of it), instantly paints my company as “website design” – this is not at all a field I wanted to pursue when all of my skills and talents are (so far) within software development.
My company does backend website work, a lot of NodeJS, or Java, and complex web application development.
pixelweb software is born
With the idea of moving the company towards some kind of product development, plus wanting to come up with an easy domain to communicate to others, PLUS wanting to actually publish content — I arrived at the name “Pixelweb Software”.
- “Pixel” denotes something potentially “fun”
- “web” denotes something potentially internet / online related
- “software” denotes pretty clearly that the company does something with software