From Pets To Penguins, How 10 Aussie Entrepreneurs Named Their Businesses

22/01/2016 5:55 AM AEDT | Updated 28/09/2016 9:55 PM AEST
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Vinomofo

Finding a name for your business is arguably the most important -- but perhaps the singularly most difficult -- decision you’ll have to make when starting your business.

And everyone has an opinion -- it should be something personal, it should be connected to a cool story, it should clearly state what your business is, it should be mysterious. Sheesh.

Here, 10 Aussie small business owners have shared their naming secrets to give new startups some inspiration.

Justin Dry, Co-founder and joint CEO of Vinomofo

Online wine seller Vinomofo has one of the coolest names in the biz -- and the story is pretty badass too.

Justin Dry and his business partner Andre Eikmeier were three days from launch as Vinomojo when they received a cease and desist letter from a trademark attorney saying their brand was in conflict with another wine company.

They quickly realised they didn’t have the cash to fight it, so they did what all good wine merchants do -- they drank on it.

“Andre and I just sat down and got a little bit drunk and started playing around with names,” Dry told The Huffington Post Australia.

“Vinomofo was funny for a while and then we kind of went: Can we do this? No, we can’t do this. And eventually we went, yes we can. We thought we’d do it for a little bit of time and then change it back.”

But the name was so catchy and befitting the firm’s no-wine-wankery philosophy, and customers began to call themselves mofos and mofettes -- so they stuck with it.

“I think it has definitely helped our business having that name,” he said.

“The joke around the story people enjoy, like the fact that we are calling the guys who were trying to steal our mojo ‘mofos’.”

Emily Kelly, Co-Founder of Deathproof PR

Finding a name for a PR firm that specialises in heavy metal music and pop culture was a tricky one -- thank god Quentin Tarantino saved the day. As he usually does.

“Yes, it was so hard,” Kelly said. “It felt like everything was going to be naff in a year’s time. We named it after the Tarantino film, which is two words.

"A lot of people warned us that it was too aggressive and that having ‘death’ in our name would lose us potential clients and that it was too intimidating -- but on the contrary, it’s served us well.

“My business partner Rebecca Reato and I looked at all our mutual interests -- bands and the songs that they had written, and then went through our favourite films -- and films we’d seen recently, and we both loved Death Proof.

"That film was about these tough chicks -- so that worked!”

deathproof pr

Emily Kelly and Rebecca Reato relied on Quentin Tarantino to name their PR firm.

Roger Mendelson, CEO of Prushka Fast Debt Recovery

Not every business name is practical -- some come from much more random places.

“My wife had a stuffed penguin called Prushka -- she’s into penguins, and Prushka came on our honeymoon backpacking around Asia,” Mendelson said.

“I picked the name because it stands out. Now you’ve got Google and Virgin and Apple but back then it was a rather stupid name -- it sticks in people's minds, which is why I went with it.”

roger mendelson

Roger Mendelson named his business after his wife's stuffed penguin Prushka.

Robin McGowan, Co-founder of InStitchu

Finding a cool name for a new startup specialising in tailored men’s suits was harder than first thought for Robin McGowan and his business partner James Wakefield.

“After a number of heated debates (and there were quite a few!), we decided that we wanted the name we came up with to represent not only the service that we provide -- quality tailored suits -- but we also wanted it to be completely original and unique. We wanted a business name that people would remember.

“'InStitchu' is a play on words from the Latin phrase 'in situ'. While its definition varies, it essentially means 'in place' or 'in position', which James and I thought was perfect for a bespoke suit company. Today we like to define InStitchu, quite simply, to mean 'In the suit'."

robin mcgowan james wakefield institchu

Robin McGowan and James Wakefield had plenty of heated debates about their business name.

Jessica Ruhfus, Founder and CEO of Collabosaurus

This very modern business that connects companies together for collaborative projects has a rather prehistoric inspiration; the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

“Collabosaurus was the working title and nobody liked it,” Ruhfus said.

"I asked so many people at the beginning and everyone said no one would be able to spell it and that it will be hard to create a logo out if it.

“But since we’ve launched, I get stopped in the street by people saying ‘I love your business name’. It’s hilarious. It’s quite memorable -- it’s quite catchy, I think.”

jessica ruhfus collabosaurus

Everyone hated Collabosaurus at first, but now CEO Jessica Ruhfus says it's a hit.

Sarah Hamilton, CEO and Co-founder, Bellabox

Here’s one close to our hearts -- a business named after the family pet. Sarah Hamilton and her twin sister Emily sourced childhood inspiration when naming their beauty box subscription service.

“We got Bella the black labrador when Emily and I were about 10 or 12 and she was gorgeous,” Sarah said.

“When we decided we wanted to start a beauty box business together, Bella just seemed so natural -- and Bella means beautiful in Italian so it worked out really well.

"You don’t want to spend too much time on your business name, even though it is important. You have to go with your gut on it.”

sarah emily hamilton bellabox

Twins Sarah and Emily Hamilton named their business after the family pooch.

Clare Ferra, Founder of vintage fashion online and ebay store Irvrsbl.com

Sometimes a business name can be right there up in lights -- and all you need to do is pluck it from the big screen.

“I was looking into it, trying to come up with a name and had a look at the names of a lot of foreign films and there was a film I was aware of called Irreversible,” Ferra said.

“It’s got nothing to do with the shop, and it’s kind of an unknown film. I saw the name and I thought it linked to vintage and going back in time, so I went with it.

"After I came up with it, I realised that because it’s a film and a common word, it was hard to Google it -- so I came up with removing the vowels for the url.

“It’s working so far. Some people have said I should call the business just Irvrsbl, but I do like the full word, so we’ll see!”

clare ferra

Clare Ferra named her vintage clothing business Irreversible after a film.

Jodie Fox, Co-founder of Shoes of Prey

Custom-shoe design firm Shoes of Prey was created after a lengthy and almost academic process.

“Throughout the process of naming Shoes of Prey, we thought about it from a number of angles,” Fox said.

“We considered the brands that we loved and what made their business names impressive. Usually, it was that they were easy to remember and that we loved the way they felt when we said them.

“We started brainstorming by considering our brand insight, and from there, we broke it down into different territories. We considered actual names, like Jodie Fox, as well as words and ideas related to design like mukluk and cobbler, for example.

“We looked at different naming methodologies -– like the Igor Guide -– which ensured that we avoided certain approaches like; describing what your business does, or choosing Latin/Greek names which can tend to sound cold.

“Once we had amassed all of this information, we did something very old fashioned and asked some friends over to throw words and phrases back at each other.

"We sat together for a few hours over sushi, wine and a lot of laughter at the huge array of terrible suggestions. Eventually my good friend Lisa put her hands to her temples and blurted out “Shoes of Prey!”, and we knew we had found the one.”

jodie fox

Shoes of Prey came after much academic discussion and sushi, says co-founder Jodie Fox.

Jo Burston, Founder and CEO of Rare Birds

Jo Burston’s mission with her startup is to see one million women entrepreneurs in Australia by 2020 and to give every woman globally the opportunity to become an entrepreneur by choice.

She needed a name to encapsulate her vision and, with the help of friend and entrepreneur, Andrea Culligan, she nailed it.

“The brand had to be reflective of my personal view of women entrepreneurs -- who I see as tenacious, relentless and have a hard-coded DNA to succeed and grow both themselves and their businesses,” she said.

“I also wanted it to pay homage to the pioneers and trailblazers as well as be inspiring for emerging entrepreneurs. I also looked at the global landscape, in that it should be authentic, black and white and no fluff.

"It also needed a dry humour around it, as I believe if I am not having fun with purpose, I won’t do it.

“The term ‘Rare Birds’ is a bit of cheek as well. ‘Rare’ because women entrepreneurs are still globally rare compared to the male numbers and "Birds" because of their beauty, uniqueness of colour and song and ability to soar.

“I was challenged in the early days by people who thought the word bird is offensive to women, the irony is that in almost all species, the male bird has the most beautiful plumage and puts on the biggest show.”

jo burston rare birds

Jo Burston says the name Rare Birds has both empowerment and a bit of cheek.

Chris Hansen, Founder LikeAJob

Naming this mobile-friendly website to matchmake job seekers and employers was almost as easy as logging on to Facebook for Chris Hansen.

“The ‘like’ word has been brought into popular culture by Facebook over the last 10 years,” he said.

“Sometimes job seeking can be a really stressful process -- particularly for the job seeker and sometimes for the employer but we wanted a really positive way of doing things. The whole idea of liking something is very positive thing -- it means you’re interested.

“We wanted it to be positive as opposed to the traditional language of rejection letters, cover letters and queues. We wanted to make it really quick and fast and positive so that’s where the like came from.”

chris hansen

LikeAJob's Chris Hansen really liked the word 'like'.

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