Nothing in Chitika’s history has caused more intrigue than its name. From being lovingly labeled as “peddlers of produce” to giving a 1-hour phone presentation with the other side looking at the wrong domain, we’ve had our share of domain fun. Read on for some interesting stories. There are definitely some lessons to be learned the next time you name your website or startup company.

So what does Chitika mean anyway?

The year is 2003 and Internet startups are dropping like hot potatoes. There we were (two geeks!) sitting at Wendys’ envisioning a company built around the concept of “Data Mining for Business Intelligence“. We brainstormed for hours on a name (essentially all variations of the word Digimine — cause the coolest company in our eyes at that time was Dr. Usama Fayyad’s Digimine). However, it’s tough to name your company when you don’t have a finished product or service. So in the end, Chitika co-founder Dr. Venkat Kolluri came up with a novel solution: Let’s solve people’s problems “in a snap”. He then digs into his South Indian roots and came up with the word “Chitika” — which in his native language Telugu means “In a Snap“. When you are starting off a new website or company and have nothing to show off yet — just piggy back off vague concepts (e.g. Chitika, Amazon, Accenture, etc)

We were told, “CHANGE THE NAME.”

Over the years as Chitika grew as a company, we had numerous people advising us to change the name (The logic ranging from “Hey, its so tough to remember” to “It rhymes with something dirty“). One person though stuck to her guns. Chitika advisory board member Meredith Hanrahan, CMO of salary.com, had a simple logic: Its tough to remember — but once somebody remembers it, they will never forget it.

It’s the Google Age, dude. How does the name even matter?

Well — that’s somewhat true. Google has significantly reduced the need to have a name people can remember. But there are some things that we have learnt along the way as to why the name matters.

  • Branding: Over the long run, there is nothing better than to have a service associated with your company name. There can be hundreds of companies selling cola — but they will all be considered as coke variants. So give yourself this chance. Rather than naming your company Acme Networks, build a brand.
  • Marketing: Having a weird name like Chitika really opens up the door for sweet marketing ideas. For example, at the last career fair our company attended, we handed out bananas as take-aways. Why bananas ? Cause half the non-techie world associates us with Chiquita — the banana producing company. So why not — lets play off that.

Over the life span of your website or company, your name is sure to cause much intrigue and pain. What matters most though is how well you leverage your name to meet your business goals. We are Chitika — and we are sticking to our bananas! Comments are open .. please feel free to add your own domain or name stories. Posted by Alden DoRosario (alden [at] chitika [dot] com) This post was inspired by Jeremy Wright’s (b5 Media) up-skirt post for the Chitika BlogBash.