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Is Your Company Named After a Fruit – Or a Person?

What’s in a name? For a startup, it can attract investors and customers – or repel both.

Crunchbase, a business information platform, recently spoke with the founder of a corporate naming consultancy to get the dirt on the latest trends in startup’s names. Alan Foden, founder of Santa Clara-based Brighter Naming, identified five.

Is San Diego on board with these trends? With a few, absolutely. Others, not so much.

1. AI

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“Venture capitalists love artificial intelligence companies lately, and AI is a concise, universally recognized abbreviation. So it’s not surprising to see funded startups cropping up with ‘AI’ in their names,” Crunchbase said. The platform counted at least 23 funded companies with AI in their names founded in the past two years.

Locally, Shield AI took that tack – and seems to be thriving. The company, which makes a drone that uses artificial intelligence, recently raised a $10.5 million Series A led by Andreesen Horowitz.

2. Robotics

“You might think it would be natural for a robotics company to call itself one. Looking at companies in the space that raised funding recently, that’s clearly the trend,” Crunchbase said. The company’s database revealed at least 10 companies founded and funded in the past two years with “robotics” or “robot” in their names.

Locally, we have Orca Robotics, which says its aim is to “accelerate the technology in the marine environment.” In February, the company was named one of 21 semifinalists worldwide for the $7 million Shell Ocean Discovery Xprize, in which teams must build one or more swimming drones to take part in a 16-hour challenge.

3. Misspellings

“Is your dream startup name taken? No worries. Just delete the “i” and replace it with a “y,” change that “c” to a “k,” or try a different vowel. Those are some popular techniques in creative misspelling that startups are using to secure names that sound like common words.”

San Diego startups love this trend. Nervana Systems took just this approach, tweaking the first word of its name, which is pronounced like the word “nirvana.” Empyr, the e-commerce lead generator, also went this route.

4. Food names for tech companies

“Apple did pretty well with this strategy. Now others are hoping it’ll work for them,” Crunchbase said.

We couldn’t find any San Diego startups that went the food route. That doesn’t mean they’re not out there, but this trend doesn’t seem to have caught fire locally. Perhaps local founders think only so many startups named after a fruit can become multibillion-dollar behemoths. Apple’s a hard act to follow.

5. First names

“Giving companies a human first name isn’t a new thing in startup circles. Perhaps the best-known startup in this category is Oscar, a four-year-old health insurance company that has raised over $700 million,” Crunchbase said.

This doesn’t seem to have caught on locally either. We’ve all heard of Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa, but San Diego-based founders seem to have eschewed going the potentially cutesy route when picking their startup’s name.

Is your company named after a fruit – or a person? Let us know.

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