Startup Names — How We Came Up with “Genlighten”

Posted On: June 24th, 2008 | Posted by: Dean

Yesterday’s post on our one-year domain registration anniversary got me reminiscing about the night we decided on the name “Genlighten” for our Etsy-for-genealogy-lookups startup. So I went looking on my hard drive for evidence of the other names we’d also considered.

I found only two:

  • N-Gen [as in, n generations -- implying we'd help you trace your family back as many generations as you wanted, rather than the oft-mentioned four] and
  • Thrubrick [as in, we'd help you get through your genealogy brick walls.]

“N-Gen” and the variants I came up with weren’t available as a domain name, and my family members quickly shot down Thrubrick as obscure and tongue-twisting (just try saying it three times fast!), not to mention just plain not-a-good-idea.

As I recall what happened next, I walked back down the hall to our bedroom/”corner office” and reflected that what we were trying to do was simply create a new way to “shed light” on the genealogical process. It was a small step from there to “Enlightened Genealogy Research” and a few moments later to “Genlighten” itself. My wife quickly approved… the domain was available… and there you have it.

Evan Paull wrote recently on GigaOm that names of successful startups tend to be a compounds of:

  1. a word that literally relates to what the company does
  2. a word that evokes a feeling about the company’s product.

For me, “Gen” is what we do (genealogy lookups) and “enlighten[ed]” is how we’d like our customers to feel as a result of using our service. That’s a big [and scary] objective to strive for!

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