Domain names

When to purchase the .com domain for your nascent startup

Sharon McCarthy Chief Marketing Officer

November 25th, 2015

I'm working on a business for which I've purchased a .net domain. I'd like to have the.com version of my name, but I have to buy it from GoDaddy for $2200 (discounted). I don't want to pay this much for a domain until I get proof of concept with some in-market success and then get funding.  On the other hand, once I get traction and funding, I'm concerned that GoDaddy will increase the price of the domain. Does anyone have insight into GoDaddy's pricing algorithms and how in-market success will impact pricing for a domain. Thanks!
Sharon

Scott Winterroth

November 25th, 2015

Sharon, In my opinion, you should buy it while you can. It's probably one of the most important investments of your startup. 

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

November 25th, 2015

@Anurag Mehta,

Sorry, but that's a terrible advice.
Let me illustrate.
A few years ago I developed a product (a software library) that I named "Elgrint". The name was carefully and painstakingly chosen, and integrated into the product so deeply that changing it would take a lot of effort and destroy backward compatibility.
I tried to buy the elgrint.com domain, but as in this case it was already taken by squatters who wanted $1700 for it. I got them down to $1100, but ultimately decided not to buy at all, and instead created a sub-domain on my main site (miranor.com), i.e. "elgrint.miranor.com", which costed me nothing.

It turned out to be a very good idea, because the product was a dead end regardless of the domain name.
Has I "invested" $1100 into a useless domain (and counting, since I'd have to pay for renewals too, possibly for the rest of my life), I'd feel pretty silly. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to resell it, because even after all these years this domain is still for sale, despite the fact that its owners are actually trying to sell it - something I wouldn't want to waste my time on, and despite the fact that it's a kick-ass name.

Now, if, against all odds, my product would've been a success, then I'd consider buying the elgrint.com domain. Yes, there would've been a chance that the price could get higher, but I'm pretty sure that it would've still been relatively small, because the squatters do want to sell the domain, so they wouldn't ask more than you can afford painlessly, as long as you negotiate the deal well and don't act like it's so important to you.

And you truly have no reason to act like that, because nowadays the domain name isn't as important as it once was. In ancient times (2010 and earlier) people did try to guess the company's web address from its name, but then all major browsers had merged the address bar with the search engine, so not many people guess addresses anymore - it's easier and faster to write the company's name and click the first search result. Most visitors wouldn't care about your domain name and many won't even notice it.
So your real goal should be the SEO - to make yourself the top Google result, whatever your domain is.

Rick Stratton Great States Software / Feed.Us / MKEcribs

November 25th, 2015

From my experience, the price won't change much from where it gets originally priced. I don't think it's that sophistacted.

Mark Wing Client Engagement Director at Small Back Room

November 25th, 2015

My how the cost of a url address has shot up !!

That seems like a lot of money to me. As an alternative, try to define your strategic proposition (brand promise), and then see if there isn't a more relevant idea to inform your choice of business name and/or url - you never know, it may be cheaper (I'm sure market forces must be having an influence on the popularity of your own name)

Scott Winterroth

November 25th, 2015

There are lots of extensions out there, which at the front end will save you some money. But, in my opinion, long term they can be very costly due to harder SEO strategy and loss from users typing in the common .com version.

Vasilis Mavroudis Guerilla Office founder

November 26th, 2015

Well, there are a lot of opinions in this thread, all of them valid. (isn't that helpful!?)

I'll just add my two cents to this discussion:
- don't buy the domain name before you have a little traction and some money. At that time this question will not be a problem any more.
- as mentioned above, if you're name is good and people search for your product, then you'll be at the top of the search results. In that case the TLD won't matter.
- with that said, .com is always good to have. But it's not a NEED to have. So pick it up when it's time and you can.

There is one very simple rules for running a business that I adhere to when thinking about questions like this: Don't incur major costs that can't be covered by the business now (or in the very near future).

Hope you've gotten some good insights in this thread and please get back to us and let us know what you decided on.

/ Vasilis

Stella McGovern

November 26th, 2015

I just wanted to point out that this asking price of $2,200 has nothing to do with GoDaddy through whom you can register an available .com domain name for as little as $2.99 for the first year.

This is simply a matter of someone squatting the domain name and putting it up for auction via GoDaddy. Sometimes, it is just a matter of someone else having registered the domain name before you with no malicious intent. At other times, known squatters grab available domain names as soon as they know of the formation of a company (New York LLCs have a publication requirement... so that's one way they can find out). I know of one such case where the domain name was registered by a squatter the day the company was legally formed... and now it is available through GoDaddy Auctions for $850.

If it's available, you should register the domain name the moment you decide on your business' name, even before you form your company. You can also take the opposite approach - which we did - and find a domain name that's available without a premium that suits your business model, register it, and then form your company in that name :)

By the way, even if you pay a premium for your domain now, in the future, you will pay normal renewal rates which usually ranges between $12.99 and 14.99 per year for .coms.

John Moscarella Clean energy entrepreneur, climate change enthusiast, investment management, and VC

November 27th, 2015

Recently i wanted to purchase the .com domain name but squatters were asking $1695 for it, so i acquired .net, .biz, .company and a couple of others from Godaddy for going rates 

a month or so later, the squatters had failed to renew and Godaddy launched an auction, i ended up with the .com site for $350 or so at the end of the auction, which was lucky...i wouldn't suggest this for everyone but sometimes waiting does pay off

i had made up my mind to go up to $1200 in the auction and was happy to save a couple of bucks

Michael Forney Strategic Management, Business Intel and Marketing Expert & Consultant

November 27th, 2015

Sharon,

I do not recommend buying the domain - as my friend Robert explained, there are so many other options available to you right now.  Examine the possibilities and evaluate how your audience will find you...will it be through social media, from your blog, or through a site such as Medium (in these cases, if you are careful and plan well, you will be providing a link), or will your site be bookmarked in customer's browsers, or will they let Chrome or Firefox autofill the address?  In all of these cases a .net will not matter.  Overall, and in my experience, I just don't think this is an issue.

David Foster chief contributor to nvntr

November 27th, 2015

At the base level, TLDs/domains are a commodity and just an "address" for your online presence. If your market knows your address, that's all that truly matters. 

That said, I would not recommend spending much acquiring a TLD, unless you're established with a brand. If you don't have a name for your business though, nowadays starting with a TLD search is really important. Internet "addresses" have literally changed trademark law, and owning your domain is quite advantageous... will save a lot of trouble down the road. As Stella said, much better to start with a domain for a company name instead of naming your company and then trying to get that domain. 

For domain names: make them easy and logical to spell [in English unless your market is totally domestic in a certain country/language], easy to remember and as short as possible. I also agree that hyphens aren't a great idea... but I've had fair luck using numbers like my A2V.org. Using numbers isn't optimal, but I got a 3-character domain, which is really easy to remember.