A Rose By Any Other Name

A lot of people ask, "What has been the hardest part about starting a company?" Sometimes, visions of early software development flash before my eyes or the excruciatingly long process of raising capital.

But in the end, I have to go back to the five months it took us to pick a name for the website.

It seems like a fairly easy thing to do, pick a name for a website, but its not.

We wanted to pick something that was memorable, fun, related to real estate…and AVAILABLE. This was a very difficult combination of attributes and our brainstorming often got side-tracked. Here are some examples of hundreds from a May 2005 email:

IntelliRent, PadPod, Apartmentals, CoyoteRentals, Hiddenunits, Apartnation, Rentbug, Popcornrentals, ApartMint, ConglomeRent, RentTarget, HoodPicker, and RenterCenter.

(I think IntelliRent was my idea. It still holds a special place in my heart.)

Our consensus changed on a weekly basis.

After a great deal of painful deliberation, we finally settled on the "perfect" name: RenterCenter. It was kind of catchy (i.e. it rhymed), it related to real estate, and no one was actively using it.

However, after a few weeks of calling ourselves RenterCenter….we found that the domain, while not actively used, was definitely owned, and the owner wanted a princely sum (enough to buy a house in my home town).

So to our chagrin we had to move on. (luckily….)

We started brainstorming again, and a clever woman named Mouse suggested HotPads.com. With that name she had hit on something…  We were not approaching real estate search and listing like a "RenterCenter" or an "Intellirent."  We were taking a new, innovative, and user-focused approach, and it deserved a more creative, friendly, and fitting name.  If our users finish their housing search believing that they have found a "Hot Pad," then we could not be more pleased. 

It took us a bit to warm up to it…but once it settled into our brains, we could think of no other more suitable name.

When hearing HotPads.com for the first time, people often do a double-take, but just as it happened to us, once it settles…it never escapes.

– Douglas (my brother calls me Fresh)