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The Anatomy of a Killer Startup Name [Infographic]

Written by: Ryan McCready

Jun 20, 2016

Right after a group of people make the decision to start a new company, a few essential questions must be answered. Those questions range from the simple and benign to those that are literally life changing: such as, “what the heck do we call our company?” Sometimes it can be answered quickly or the debate can drag on for weeks.

Either way, according to hacker and founders, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter.

That said, some unwritten naming rules have emerged in recent years that startups seem to be following. To figure out these incredibly scientific naming trends, we decided to start with Crunchbase. From their database, we selected roughly 400 startups that have raised money in the past year, plus some unicorns and a few startups we are friendly with. Giving us a grand total of about 500 startups in our data set.

After collecting the startup names, as well as their mission statements, we split the startups into ten distinct categories. Those categories can be seen on the infographic below.

The names were also rated on how well their name fits their mission statement. Fit was broken down into three categories and determined in another incredibly scientific way as well:

  • Hypothetically, if my own mother could deduce what that startup does without any other knowledge, it received a “Perfect” fit score.
  • If I would have to explain it just a little bit to her, it received a “Kinda” score.
  • And if it would have been easier to tell her to just Google it, it received a “Nah” score (it should be noted that I did not actually try to explain 500+ startups to my mom).

As you can probably tell, this article was a fun one to do. We know it is not going to be perfect. But it doesn’t have to be to still be entertaining, so enjoy the tangled but useful mess below! 

startup names infographic


Note: Some names definitely overlapped between two or more categories, so we used our best judgement in those cases. For instance, Houzz is categorized in “Made Up Word” but it also could be in “Letter Swap.” For clarity, we decided in the beginning that “Letter Swap” would only include startups utilizing a single letter swap.

There are many more close ones like that came down to a judgement call when we sorted them. If you need clarification on any of the categories, sound off in the comments and I will give you my reasoning.

Here are ALL the startups with their CrunchBase description and a link to their site:

  • Wild Apricot: Wild Apricot is web-based software for small associations and non-profits to help manage membership, website, events and other activities.
  • Eaze: Revolutionizing medical marijuana delivery.
  • Lyft: Lyft is reconnecting people and communities through better transportation.
  • Sphero: Sphero bridges the gap between the real world and the virtual world with its smartphone-controlled robots.
  • Zenefits: Zenefits helps you manage and automate all your HR—from payroll to benefits—in one beautiful online dashboard.
  • Zillow: Zillow is an online real estate marketplace for finding and sharing information about homes, real estate, and mortgages.
  • Lyst: Lyst offers a personalized fashion marketplace where users can create a customized shopping feed of products.
  • Shyp: Shyp provides shipping services that ranges from picking-up the package to delivering it to the destination.
  • Ginger.io: At Ginger.io we use sensor data and machine learning to build a ‘check-engine light’ for a person’s health.
  • Last.fm: Last.fm is an online music catalogue providing users with personalized recommendations based on their taste in music.
  • Visual.ly: Visually is the content creation platform that enables businesses to connect with their audiences through premium visual content
  • Import.io: Import.io is the number one web data extraction platform. Using our patented technology, we provide 100s of global businesses with high-quality, scalable data from the web without breaking the bank.
  • Bit.ly: Bitly’s link management platform helps the world’s leading brands deliver and measure their efforts across all marketing channels.
  • Degreed: Leverage the entire learning ecosystem! Organizations and individuals use Degreed to find, track, and recognize ALL learning.
  • Dribbble: Dribbble is a community of designers sharing screenshots of their work, process, and projects.
  • Flickr: Flickr is a mobile application and social network that offers an online photo sharing network for its users.
  • Foundr: Foundr is a digital magazine targeted at young and early upstart business owners. It is a resource / tool / guide which shows you what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
  • Hipmunk: Hipmunk is an online travel company providing users with hotel deals and flights results via a website and an app.
  • Jiff: Customized mobile & web experiences that connect companies’ benefits design to healthy employee behavior through consumer wearables and apps.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool for saving and discovering creative ideas.
    Scribd: Scribd is a digital library, featuring e-book subscription services on iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.
  • SpaceX: Space Exploration Technologies is a space transport startup that designs, manufactures & launches advanced rockets, spacecraft & satellites
  • TheSkimm: theSkimm is a daily e-mail newsletter that simplifies headlines for busy professionals, especially women.
  • Trov: Trov is a free app that helps you easily organize, value and protect the things you own
  • Tumblr: Tumblr, a microblogging platform and social networking website, enables users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog.
  • Beepi: Buying and Selling a Car. More Than Improved. Elevated.
  • Blooom: Blooom was created with the sole intention of fixing a financial epidemic problem in America: lack of quality advice for your 401k.
  • Etsy: Etsy is an e-commerce site and a smartphone application for buying and selling handmade and vintage items.
  • Patreon Patreon enables fans and sponsors to give ongoing support to artists and creators.
  • Quora: Quora is a question-and-answer website created, edited, and organized by its community of users.
  • Spotify: Spotify, it’s easy to find the right music for every moment – on your phone, your computer, your tablet and more.
  • Trello: Trello is a visual project management system.
  • Giphy: How you search, share, and discover the world’s best GIFs.
  • Houzz: Houzz is the world’s leading online platform for home remodeling, architecture, interior design, decorating, landscaping & home improvement.
  • Buffer: Buffer helps users share social media content by scheduling online posts throughout the day.
  • Harry’s: Harry’s allows users to buy razors, German engineered blades and shaving creams.
  • Jet.com: Jet is the smartest way to shop and save on pretty much anything.
  • Lever: The modern, collaborative recruiting platform that powers a more human approach to hiring.
  • Pebble: Pebble is a company that develops a technology designed for smart watches to connect with iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth.
  • Slack: Slack is a team communication application providing services such as real-time messaging, archiving, and to search for modern teams.
  • Tilt: A next-generation crowdfunding platform, Tilt is the easiest way to collect, fundraise or pool money securely and effectively online.
  • Acorns: Acorns is a finance company that allows individuals to round up purchases and automatically invest the change.
  • Uber: Uber is a mobile app connecting passengers with drivers for hire.
  • Ambassador: Track and manage referral, partner & affiliate programs, easily.
  • Plated: Plated home-delivers 30-minute gourmet recipes and ingredients.
  • Docker: Docker is an open platform for distributed applications that allows developers and sysadmins to build, ship & run distributed applications.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox’s mission is to provide a home for everyone’s most important information and bring it to life.
  • Artsy: Artsy is an online platform providing a collection of contemporary art for art lovers.
  • Boxed: Boxed is a mobile commerce company focused on delivering the big box club experience to mobile devices.
  • Periscope: Real time video feeds enabling individuals to see the world through another person’s eyes.
  • Foursquare: Foursquare is a technology company that uses location intelligence to build meaningful consumer experiences and inform business decisions.
  • Looksharp: LookSharp helps every student launch their career.
  • MailChimp: MailChimp, an email marketing service,helps businesses with their marketing newsletters, automated messages, and targeted campaigns.
  • Pied Piper: A Middle-Out Compression Solution Making Data Storage Problems Smaller
  • SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey offers a cloud-based online survey and questionnaire tool that helps users gather survey-related information.
  • AppSumo: AppSumo is a daily deals website that provides digitally-distributed Perfects and online services.
  • PandaDoc: Automate your contracts, proposals, quotes, and more.
  • DoorDash: DoorDash enables small businesses to provide its customers with local delivery services.
  • Instacart: Instacart is a same-day grocery delivery company delivering groceries and home essentials from a variety of local stores.
  • Mattermark: Mattermark is a data platform for venture capital companies to quantify signals of growing and potentially lucrative start-ups.
  • SpareFoot: SpareFoot is a marketplace for people to find and reserve self-storage units online.
  • ClassPass: ClassPass is a membership program for fitness classes across multiple gyms and studios, making working out more accessible.
  • Evernote: Evernote is a suite of software and services that allow users to capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms.
  • Skyscanner: Skyscanner is a global travel search site that provides online comparisons for a number of flights, car rentals, and hotels.
  • WeWork: WeWork is the community of creators.
  • Product Hunt: The best new products, every day.
  • Venngage: Venngage is an infographic maker tool that anyone can use.
  • Dwolla: Dwolla is a free web-based software platform allowing users to send, receive, and request funds from another user. Hipster/Trendy
  • Airbnb: Airbnb is an online community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book accommodations around the world.
  • Grofers: On-demand, hyper-local deliveries from local merchants to consumers. Everything from groceries to cakes!
  • Drizly: On-demand alcohol delivery, delivered to your door within an hour.
  • Luxe: Luxe is a new service that sends valets to park for you, wherever you are — it’s fast, stress-free and reliable.
  • Brit + Co: The leading platform to teach, inspire and enable creativity among women and girls.

Want to make an infographic like this one? Try Venngage:


The infographic in this article was created by Steve Shearer.

About Ryan McCready

Ryan McCready went to the University of Arkansas and graduated with a degree in economics and international business. Now instead of studying the economy he writes about everything and enjoys stirring the pot.