Bootstrapped startups and the shit I learn in therapy

Early last year we embarked on a top-secret project that was so important, it could forever change the landscape of cybersecurity.

We wanted to answer the most difficult question plaguing every InfoSec entrepreneur… and we wanted to make sure we had the data to back it up.

So we started to build a database of the world’s top cybersecurity companies. We began with the Momentum Cyberscape, a respected resource throughout the industry. We painstakingly copied these over from their PDF by hand to our base.

Could we have done it with automation? Probably. Could we have bought a list from any number of sources? Definitely. But at Krit, we care about quality. If you want something done right, do it yourself. 

In total we analyzed 801 companies for this blog post. Finally, after months of effort, we were ready to look at the data and answer that all important question. 

What should I name my product?

It’s the question every company has to answer at some point. And while people like Marc Andreesen will tell you the market rules everything around you, or Rob Fitzpatrick and Michelle Hansen will tell you it’s all about empathy with your users, every wantrepreneur worth their domain portfolio will tell you the name is EVERYTHING.

So let’s dive into the analysis, and make a #DataDriven decision. 

Mavericks vs Growth hackers

But first, one more question. Are you a maverick or a growth hacker? The answer will determine how YOU should look at this data. The mavericks will want to zig where their market zags, while the growth hackers will want to follow the playbook of those who have come before them and look for every possible advantage.

Or to put it another way: if you’re a maverick, you want the outliers in the data. If you’re a growth hacker, you want the tippity top of the bell curve.

One last note before we jump into the data: these numbers are based on cyber security companies. If you’re in a different industry, you should probably change that (or find the data yourself).

How long should your name be?

The average cybersecurity name is 8.72 characters. Since you can’t buy a domain name that has three quarters of a character, we recommend rounding down to 8. There are a total of 118 products that have names in the 8-9 character range. 

On the outliers there are names like 4IQ that only have 3 characters (and use a number in their name) on the low end, and companies like Looking Glass Cyber Solutions with 29.

What letter should your name start with?

To toot my own horn here, I totally called this one. Months ago I pointed out on our podcast how many security companies have names that start with “S.” And after crunching the numbers, S is the clear winner with 106 products. In second place we have C with 97 products and then A with 59 in third. Is it because S is one of the most commonly used letters in the English language? Is it because Cyber and Security start with C and S? No way to know, really.

But it’s clear that there’s a real opportunity to start a security company that starts with Y. I mean just look at that blue ocean. 

What words should you include in your name?

No true data science project is complete without a word cloud. Trust me, I took a data science class on Udemy (you don’t have to finish the class for it to count). 

Unsurprisingly, the most common words used in company names were cyber and security.

After those you’ve got names like net, risk, shield, cloud, guard and labs. Blue is likely in there because blue teams are the biggest purchasers of security products. But nu was a really interesting prefix I hadn’t expected to see so much of. Was that a tech trend at one point that I missed?

Other data

A couple of final interesting data points. There were 203 companies with 2-word names out of 800, and a handful with more than 2 words in their name. While short names are typically easier to remember, maybe there’s an arbitrage opportunity here. 

And only 20 companies included numbers in their names. Numbers are valid to use in domain names, so you could get yourself a steal on a good domain by working in some numbers. 


So what is the perfect cyber security product name… according to the data?

Security CyberNet. It clocks in at a little more than 8 characters, but it starts with S, is made up of two words, and has the word cyber in there as well just to drive the point home. Even better, the domain name is available.

Obviously, your name isn’t actually the most important question your company will answer. Finding a niche in the market that is growing, figuring out a repeatable way to connect with people in that niche, and building something that makes their lives better is what matters. And while you do need a name, you shouldn’t pick it based purely off the numbers or what everybody else is doing.

In general, you want a name that is memorable, without being too confusing or hard to spell. So if anything, it’s probably best to lean a little bit in the maverick direction, without creating anything too outlandish. But at the end of the day, pick a name you like and that is meaningful to you and your customers.

If you want to learn more about how to actually pick a good name for your startup, we’ve written about that, and lots of other topics founders face. But every now and then, we like to have a little fun too and spend an entire day in Excel asking silly questions. 🙂

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