I’ve been reading a bit about startups that paid a lot for a domain name but felt it was justified. What I haven’t heard a lot about is what startups in the seed stage do when they identify a domain name they want and feel would drive business, but is nevertheless very expensive. Would percentage of your seed funding would you feel comfortable allocating towards a domain name purchase?
$9.99 per year. The domain name that would actually add sales to you such as "Business.com" are all gone. Domain names just have to match your company name or product. Most people search for you on google using key words describing your service. If your web content and SEO is good, you will be found. Dont waste money.
If you have a polished product, and need more business because you already validated the idea, implemented it, you have all the processes in place, you have the team, and the infrastructure to handle the massive amount of business that a very expensive domain will bring, you can spend any amount of money that make sense for your business, otherwise do not waste time, energy or money thinking that a perfect domain will make you achieve all the other without significant amount of effort and persistence.
When I was first starting one of my startups ... I just spent a couple of hundred dollars buying out every .co, .net, etc. iteration of my domain. When we got funding, I was then able to spend a couple of thousand buying the .com version of the domain. I say it's always worth paying the price. Always think long term. If you plan to be a big player and have forecasted to have millions of dollars of revenues in the next few years, then you already know the answer. It's worth every penny from your funding to get the right domain name.
It's worth buying a decent .com domain if you can get it for a reasonable price. We paid $2,000 for our ideal domain to a third party and it was well worth it (our funding in at the time was $1.2 million). I wouldn't commit > 1% of your funding to a domain unless it's an amazing one that gives you a huge marketing advantage, for example: https://priceonomics.com/how-microryza-acquired-the-domain-experimentcom/
Personally, I would rather change the name of the company than to pay squatters a dime for a "perfect" domain. In fact, when I'm coming up with a name for a project, I always check the domain and trademark databases to make sure it's not taken. In any case, I wouldn't worry much about it. I mean, how many people these days search for a website by entering its URL directly?
Just about none. Test your concept with a less-than-optimal domain name and only after you have proven the concept and raised more capital consider buying an optimal name. Remember, a brand has to be established, which takes time and money. Meanwhile, people will find you through search, so do excellent SEO to get off the ground.
Very little, at seed stage you're still confirming product-market fit, and figuring out if that will scale. Domain name is an optimization once you know your product market fit, a bit like the colour of your buy now button!