Choosing a domain name is a critical part of the branding process. Many startup founders have the mentality that their business has to be built on a .com domain name, and branding decisions can be contingent upon availability and price for the exact match .com domain name. Owning a .com domain name was arguably even more important to startup businesses ten years ago, although most businesses still seem to want (or need) the .com domain name.
Zomato is a company that was launched in 2008 that helps people find new restaurants and dining experiences. The company has a unique brand name, but it almost chose a different name (Forkwise) because of the cost of the exact match domain name, Zomato.com. The startup’s naming decision making process was detailed in an Entrepreneur article I read this morning.
The article is well worth a read beyond the domain name aspect, but here is an excerpt from the article discussing the domain name decision the company made shortly after it received funding:
Personally, I couldn’t see why one would choose the staid Forkwise over the livelier Zomato- but Goyal has a sheepish smile as he explains the economics of the situation then, which was just after their seed round. “Zomato.com, the domain name was $10,000. And Forkwise.com was $10… So, I mean, that was a big deal for uslike, how do we spend $10,000 out of the million dollars that we just raised!” As a result, Goyal and his team were leaning toward choosing Forkwise- but that’s when Raghuvanshi intervened and made his voice heard. “He was quite pissed at us for dropping Zomato.com, which is such a cool domain name, and wanting to buy Forkwise.com,” Goyal remembers. “He actually offered to buy it for us personally! And then, I was like, if you have that much confidence on this to buy it personally, we will buy it ourselves, so, don’t worry about it. And that’s how we bought Zomato.com.”
According to Crunchbase, Zomato has raised nearly $250 million in funding to date, so the company seems to be doing well. I presume their branding choice played a role in the company’s success, although one could make the argument that Forkwise is also a decent brand name.
I did a Whois history search at DomainTools from 2007, and I do not recognize the name of the domain owner who likely sold Zomato.com. Forkwise.com is now owned by HugeDomains, and it has an asking price of $3,395. Perhaps, some day, it will become a competitor to Zomato. In the meantime, it looks like Zomato is doing well.