The law of the internet jungle… when you launch a web based business GET THE .COM first!
After being live for 16 months, we now own ours. I chose HomeStars as the name of the company as it was simple, and somewhat descriptive about what we are all about. It links to ratings and – doesn’t everyone want to be a star? Especially after a lengthy home reno!
We had prototyped the first site with the name HomeDirection – which many commented was terrible (way too long and sounded like a map site). So HomeStars.ca was launched in Toronto last year, and we registered as many HomeStars dot somethings as possible. As we planned our expansion, it became mandatory to have the .com. So goes our 6 month journey to get it. The person who owned it was squatting on the domain and had an inflated value in his mind. It took six months, many unanswered emails and phone calls, and a friend of ours living in the city of the squatter, to finally come to a price that we could all live with. We did the exchange using escrow.com, which provided a safe and secure online mechanism for transferring the money and domain.
So my lesson learned; if you are just starting an online business, get the name and .com first. If you’re negotiating after you’ve already established yourself in a market, decide how much it will really cost to change. And brainstorm a great back-up if you can’t afford to buy it (easier said than done!). Our back-up, HomeKarma, was loved by some, hated by others.
There’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal which talks about Topix.net changing over to the .com and it’s impact on traffic. As we move from the .ca to the .com in the next few weeks – we will be faced with this challenge yet again. For now, we are glad we’ve closed the chapter on our name!