Austin startup names

Originally published Apr 11, 2011

Photo from Flickr by Stuart Seeger. Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

Remember a while back when The Name Inspector did a post about Seattle startup names, and promised a series of posts about names in other entrepreneurial hotspots? This is the next in that series: a little post about Austin startup names.

To keep things simple, The Name Inspector used the Austin Emerging 100 list. Unlike Seattle 2.0′s Seattle Startup Index, which is constantly updated, the Emerging 100 list seems to have been a one-off thing done back in 2008. Almost ancient history in startup years. But that might not be all bad–the trends we see in it can’t be attributed to recent changes in naming practice or name availability.

In some respects the breakdown of name types is similar to the Seattle Startup Index. For example, the number of compound names is comparable: 17% for Austin and about a quarter for Seattle.

The big story has to do with the number of real word versus phrase names–the same issue that stood out when comparing Seattle startups to the startups listed in the TechCrunch index a few years back. Though The Name Inspector thought Seattle was phrase-crazy, Austin takes the phrase cake! Almost half the names in the Austin 100 list are phrases. And do you know how many real-word names there are? Four. Out of 100. And one of those, Conformity, used the not-just-one-word domain (and, incidentally, just relaunched last month as IronStratus).

You might recall that The Name Inspector’s take on the large proportion of phrase names to real word names among Seattle startups was that Seattle has lots of bootstrapped startups. They don’t have investor dollars, so they can’t afford to pay domain speculators for the “premium” domain names consisting of one real English word. Those names almost always cost a few thousand dollars at least. So instead founders have to get creative and put words together. The phrase is the most natural result of that impulse.

The proportion of phrase names to real word names down in Austin suggests it’s even more of a bootstrapping kind of town than Seattle. And that’s appropriate, right? More boots down there. Or at least, fancier boots. But really, does it indicate a lack of available funding? Maybe so. Check out this post from last year by startup consultant Carla Thompson on the Austin Startup blog. Here’s a quote:

There’s a level of frustration toward the Austin investor community that should be acknowledged and addressed. Austin entrepreneurs are increasingly flying to Silicon Valley to seek investment, after months of futile conversations here in town.

Hmmm…maybe The Name Inspector is on to something. Can the temperature of a startup scene be taken from a list of names?

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