Too often in the rush of trying to launch something new, entrepreneurs pay too little attention to coming up with a good name for their product or company. It might start off as a part-time project and they just want to get it up and running. So they pick the first name that comes to mind—often something awful—and then they are stuck with it.
That is what happened to SimulScribe, a handy voice-to-text service that turns voicemails into e-mail. When James Siminoff and Mark Dillon started SimulScribe in 2003, both had other full-time businesses. It was a side project that they codenamed “Simultaneous Voicemail Transcription,” which they shortened to SimulScribe . But now five years later, it is a full-time gig that’s growing but the name is holding back the startup. Siminoff admits:
The name SimulScribe totally sucks for our business. People have a real challenge remembering the name and they cannot spell it, which is a real problem considering that new customers need to type in our web address to sign up. When your company offers a consumer product that relies on viral marketing, a difficult name is a really bad thing. In fact, I’m constantly amazed at how well we have been able to do with such a shitty name.
Name recognition is especially important when you are up against better-funded competitors like SpinVox (which could also use a better name, but has raised $200 million to SimulScribe’s $5.7 million). Siminoff has been looking for a new name for two years, one with a domain that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Finally, a few months ago after a red-eye flight from LA to New York, after not returning many phone calls for days, a friend left a message saying he was tired of playing phone tag. Siminoff immediately called his chief marketing officer (at 6:30 in the morning) and told him to buy the domain. But PhoneTag.com was taken.
Four months and $30,000 later, he bought the domain, and today SimulScribe is changing its name to PhoneTag. It is a much better name. SimulScribe was so off-putting somehow, but PhoneTag sounds fun. What do readers think, will it make any difference?
In celebration of its new name. PhoneTag is giving away a free 30-day trial plus a special “F*#@ Voicemail” T-shirt to the first 100 TechCrunch readers who sign up here. The service is also launching a new feature today. You upload your contacts from Outlook, Mac Address Book, Gmail, or Yahoo, and every time you get a voicemail from a contact, you can email them back. That’s the kind of phone tag I could play all day.