6 Ways to Brainstorm a Business Name for Your Startup

There’s a lot of important decisions to make when starting a business. One important part is brainstorming a name for your startup.  

Choosing a great business name can be a lot of things – fun at first, but then quite strenuous, frustrating and time consuming.

CrowdSpring founder Ross Kimbarovsky, described his personally experience in an Entrepreneur article, “We spent over 50 hours in 2007 when we came up with ‘CrowdSpring.’ Some entrepreneurs can easily spend hundreds of hours – and thousands of dollars – searching for a perfect name, only to hit a creativity wall.”

Even though it is usually the quality of a company’s products and services that determine if it is good or bad, names do weigh into the decision. According to Time Magazine, 77% of consumers make purchases based on a brand name.

So if you’re looking to start a business and are in the process of brainstorming a name that exudes trust, credibility and excitement to your target audience, then let’s help you brainstorm a business name for your startup. 

Characteristics of a Good Business Name

I think things are easier when we give them limits. You know, to narrow down the thousands of options you have out there. 

  • Simple and easy to pronounce: a good brand name is one that is easy for your customers to pronounce and remember. It should have no more than three or two syllabus and be easy for reporters and journalists to prounce and talk about. Let’s not make it hard like graduation when the principal butcher’s everyone’s names. One of the best examples of this is in the movie, That Thing You Do, when the  band tries to come up with  a name. They like the “Wonders” but want to spell it the “Oneders.” It didn’t last when the announcer pronounced it the Oh-need-ers. 
  • (Legally) Available: There is no point is starting a business if you cannot acquire the full rights to its name. Be sure that you opt for a registration certificate that is issued by the USPTO (or another equivalent agency where you live in). While you’re at it, check the domain name and the social handles. You don’t want to make it hard to find you online or tag you in posts. 
  • Be unique: Your startup name needs to be unique in the sense that it does not a) sound weird or b) come off similar to your competitors. Think of Hiring.com, Careers.com and HotJobs.com – none of which stand out. But Monster.com does (even if it doesn’t describe its business).

Start Word Dumping

We’re going back to basics. The most basic of all brainstorming techniques is to get out a piece of white blank paper or the notes section of your smartphone and start jotting down your ideas. If sticky notes are more your style then by all means, go right ahead.

Try to dump in as many words as you can that relate to your business, even if some of them don’t make any sense or match with what you’re selling. The idea is that you drop as many names and words you can think of until one of them clicks.

If you want to streamline the results, go for these categories; words, verbs, feelings, aesthetic, people. You’re even free to use a dictionary, a thesaurus or even the internet all things considered.

Collaborate with the Right People (or Apps)

If you’re hitting a wall in coming up with a good business name, perhaps it’s time to ask for help (which I know we don’t like to do). It’s always a good idea your colleagues or close friends, family members help you.

You can also use apps like Name Mesh or Naminum to help you generate names.

Think of Names that Explain What You’re Selling

Before Google became the multi-billion-dollar corporation it is today, it was supposed to be named ‘googol’, which represents the number 1 followed by a hundred zeros. But the creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin, decided to go with the name for their search engine (which was going to be called BackRub).

Apparently, the name Google had more to its name than being short and easy to recall; but because the search engine generated large amounts of information, it matched the definition of the word googol. This created a compelling story that remained in the minds of the customers for years up till now.

If you’re into the flower-selling business, you could come up with names like Bouquet4U, Blooming Petals or Smiling Blossom, among others.

Alternative Spelling

Go through each of the names and phrases that you’ve come up with and highlight the ones that pique your interest. One simple trick you can try is altering the spelling of the words you’ve picked out. You can get simpler results just like Toggle, Tumblr, Flickr or Scribd.

Make a Mood Board

Give your brainstorming endeavor a visual appeal with a mood board. You can grab old magazines and newspapers, cut out some pictures, words or colors that identify with your business.

Better yet, you can digitize the process and create a Pinterest account. Start a new board and look for fun and relevant images and quotes that best describe your company. This is a relatively much quicker way than having to sort through dozens of magazines.  


There’s a lot in a name – especially a startup name. Granted how much time I spend thinking about a blog post title, I feel you. You can read the full story on how Windy City Cosmo came up with their name here. 


Hamza Shahzad is a freelance writer and blogger. Currently, he’s working with Smile Tutor. He assists with business development and social media content planning.


On Demand Mental Healthcare App Changes The Stigma of Being Crazy

There’s always new apps – new noise.

But in Chicago’s Matter at Merchandise Mart, which attracts the likes of the AMA and other healthcare companies in the city, there’s something more than affordable healthcare in our future – there’s on demand healthcare.

On Demand Doctors:

And what does it look like to have a provider on demand?

You don’t have to have a steady relationship with a previous provider. No one is going to create or —eek— dig up your file.

You can be as anonymous as Mrs. X or Mr. Y- and get one of the most underserved healthcare treatments on an app, no less. And that app is Emotilink.

Chicago Startup Story:

In a small coffee shop where I read “bloom where you are planted,” I met a woman from a Chicago event – Bloggers Meet Startups.

This woman, Vanessa Cutler, co-founder of Emotilink, is an overachiever. At the age of 31 she’s lived on South Beach, performed surgery in the Dominican Republic, has her MFA in fiction writing as a Michener Fellow, and a second masters in Public Health. As she finishes her MD this month, she sits and tells me how this all began – how she finished up med school and  is on the verge of launching her first app at the same time.

This past October, Cutler met with lifelong friend Christopher Capshaw, an experienced healthcare professional, and they decided to change the way we do healthcare—mental healthcare.


Emotilink founders

Emotilink founders at Matter in Merchandise Mart. 


Mental Health Stigmas:

There’s three main reasons why people don’t seek out treatment:

  1. No available providers within reasonable driving  range
  2. The stigma
  3. No time

In an unpredictable world, we don’t need a couch or an hour to talk about our problems.

“A lot of people don’t like waiting in a waiting room,” Cutler said.

And we don’t need evidence to prove that we were crazy at one point or another. The app doesn’t keep a file on your session.

“We are the most libertarian of healthcare platforms – we just do a third party background check on providers,” Cutler said. “The platform is designed to connect providers with users on their own terms.”

But as the user, you fill out a profile and there is a record of who you saw last and appointment reminders for your next session, but there’s no medical record kept on the platform. It’s just for you.

With as little as an impulsive 15 minutes, you can talk things out.

“We want to scale so that it eventually becomes on demand. What if you had a bad day had a breakup or lost your job? – you can talk to someone,” Cutler said.

Because that’s what we need – someone to vent to, to talk through life with and to know that this too shall pass.

The app goes beyond individual care and actually encompasses all provider types – including marriage counseling or family therapy.  You can have more than one person link into the session and now having a spread out family doesn’t mean you can’t mend old ties.

It’s only been two weeks ago that Emotilink moved into the Matter incubator, and Capshaw and Cutler have already wire framed their idea using Pidoko and will start building their prototype this month.

Emotilink will be beta tested in Chicago, New York City, and Dallas this summer.

When I asked Cutler how her relationship with her friend has changed since they became business partners, she said, “We talk a lot more than we used to. We talk like 10 times a day. When you are in business with someone, it’s like a marriage!”

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


There’s a New Fashion Designer in Chicago P.S. It’s You

I swear I don’t intend to wear dresses that are short.

I have grouped them in my closet as NSFW.


In fact, my favorite dress is this blue Banana Republic dress. The Banana Republic tends to have more conservative dresses, but I still have the same problem. If my legs aren’t overexposed, I feel that my chest is.


It’s not that I want to cover every inch of my body – I would just like to not flash the world every time I sit down on the CTA.

Dresses tend to be too short to function in.

It’s a tall girl problem and it’s a short girl problem. It’s a curvy girl’s moment and a skinny girl’s issue as well.

Dresses aren’t made to fit you off the rack. They’re meant to fit you well enough.

Why Doesn’t My Dress Fit?

A woman shared with me her frustration of finding clothes that fit her. She recalled going to her formals with her sorority.

“I hot glued myself into my dress,” Krista Goral said about the dresses she created in college for special occasions.

Goral went through traditional places like J. Crew to get her clothes and she asked tailors to create a better fit, but there wasn’t a simple answer to find clothes that fit her body.


Krista Goral, founder of MeasureMake. Photo: Amanda Elliott


So, like most entrepreneurs, she created one.

Goral  took one idea, one problem, and decided to quit her job in November and pursue her mission—to make dress shopping not only an enjoyable experience but also to create the perfect fit dress for your body. Her company is MeasureMake and it’s exclusively in Chicago.

“A lot of women have one thing that they don’t like, and every woman thinks it’s just her,” said Goral.

In a blog post on MeasureMake, Goral explains that one size doesn’t fit all for the very reason that “there are no standard sizes of people.”

She started with making dresses for herself and then she reached out to what she called “real clients, like people I don’t know,” Goral described, from Reddit and internet searches, where she found Windy City Cosmo.

I was at Paris Fashion Week when I received my invitation to be one of MeasureMake’s real clients.

The dressmaking process began and ended with a personal touch. We had a phone conversation after my trip, and she set up an appointment.

Design Your Dress:

Like every first time, I was nervous. My first and only time being measured was having a bra fitting. And this was a whole dress fitting.

How naked did I have to get for this?

And where was this happening?

I originally was going to to go to Goral’s apartment, but then she came to my apartment because it was more convenient for my schedule.

I opened the door for my personal fitting and there she was—Krista Goral—in a tunic green top and jeans holding her motorcycle helmet.

I told her that she was like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. 

After a brief introduction. We were ready to get down to the main event.

I wore yoga pants and a t-shirt.

Getting Measured For a Custom Dress:

“So how do we do this?” I asked.

She had a notepad and measuring tape. She said I just had to stand up, and she would take my measurements.

I put my arms out, and she draped the measuring tape around me. I resisted the urge to suck in.

It was so fast and harmless that a windy day in Chicago feels more intrusive than getting measured.

After being measured was the fun part. She let me choose between two black fabrics and showed me pictures of how others looked in the dress.

“Can we do a split on the sides?” I asked.

And we took it from there—designing my dress—adding sleeves and discussing the length.

The Fabric to Make a Dress:

Though she had a mission, Goral didn’t have a background in design or fashion. So, she started her business with learning as much as she could. She spent months reading and studying about sewing and fabrics and design.

“The toughest part of designing clothes is finding fabrics,” Goral admitted.

And then, after she purchased the fabric, it was a process of making mistakes.

“You can only fix each seam once—maybe twice or then it ruins the fabric,” Goral said.

She started practicing dress making by designing and sewing dresses for herself.

“I went to a thrift store and bought used silk bed sheets,” Goral said, “They were never to sell, just practice.”

All of her fabric now comes from a mill based in New York. She’s proud that her dresses are 100% made in USA from USA materials.

Since she is making individual dresses, she also didn’t need a lot of fabric, just about 10 yards, which was one of the setbacks in finding a mill.

Currently, she has two fabrics to choose from. They are both black and can be turned into little black dresses—with or without sleeves. One of the fabrics is a stricter material, which is more suitable for a date night little black dress of a suit dress for a business meeting. The other dress fabric is a flowy material and is better suited for a sun dress and as I call them, teacher dresses.

The Fitting:

The turnaround from booking an appointment to receiving the dress was quick. Goral said it takes about half a day to complete one dress.

Usually, her dresses require one alteration.

When Goral came to my apartment again to show me the dress, she sat in my living room as she finished watching an episode of Friends.

I closed my walk-in closet door and slipped into the dress.

I had never worn something so fitted. I was nervous looking at every curve on my body in the mirror. I peaked my head out of my closet and said, “Are you ready?”

It was so exciting to see her reaction as I showed her how the dress looked.

I was conscientious of my hips, and we decided to take in the fabric a bit on the bottom and at the waist for a better fit.

Like everything at MeasureMake, Goral adds a personal touch. She never mailed me my dress. She always delivered it in person, even though I live a good 30-45 minute drive away from her.

When I saw the final dress at dinner with her and a friend, I immediately changed into it. Afterward, we had an impromptu photo session in the restaurant. Goral, my dressmaker, actually took all the photos below.

I wore it again to an after-work cocktail party for Kettle One at C Chicago. I paired the little black dress with a suit jacket and it actually looked like a full suit.

Design Your Own Fitted Little Black Dress:

MeasureMake has completed about 15-20 dresses.  Now that Goral has styled her family, her real clients, and Windy City Cosmo she’s ready for you to design your own fitted little black dress.

In just 20 minutes, you can be the next Chicago designer and most importantly, wear your own designs.

Book your free appointment with MeasureMake here to design your very own fitted little black dress.

Update February 2017: Since this Chicago startup has launched, you can now make your own custom dress in a variety of colors. MeasureMake dresses have been featured on The Steve Harvey Show with Bela Gandhi, Founder of Smart Dating Academy, and on other Chicago blogs, like LakeShoreLady.com. 



Featured Image Photo cCedit: Silvia Pellegrino via photopin (license)

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Bloggers Meet Startups: Hear From Windy City Cosmo at 1871

Are bloggers startups?

Maybe. Sure.

This week there are a lot of startup events and blogger events in Chicago.

I’m going to start with some exciting news—I’m speaking at one of these events. I’m so honored that my first speaking event is at the most innovative hubs for women and men in Chicago, 1871.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, bloggers and startups will be meeting for a special edition of Bloggers Meet Startups, a local networking group where startups and bloggers can pitch their ideas and connect with other entrepreneurs in Chicago.

This networking event will mark the four year anniversary of Bloggers Meet Startups.

In the past, I’ve met local startup founders and even international startup founders at these events. Mike Bandar, for instance, spoke about a new startup he was involved with in London called, Hopper, which helps individuals and businesses create and schedule Instagram posts. Hopper is the Hootsuite of Instagram.

Bloggers Meet Startups is a casual event and starts with featured speakers, who give a five-minute presentation. Then, the floor is open for attendees to pitch their blog or startup with a one-minute presentation.

Featured Bloggers Meet Startups Presenters:

Amanda of WindyCityCosmo.com – Windy City Cosmo is a lifestyle blog that invites you to meet entrepreneurs, taste inventive cocktails, and explore Chicago through events (with or without heels).

Susie of Suzlyfe.com – Susie is a Chicago-based Certified Running Coach and Personal Trainer (Coach Suz Training) and the voice behind Suzlyfe, a fitness and wellness blog that aims to educate, connect, and inspire readers to live beyond expectations.

Justin and Matt of Backspace App – Backspace is a community of people who are just like you. Nothing shared on Backspace lasts forever. Be funny. Be weird. Be quirky. Be unique. Be you.

Niku of Paris 312 – Paris312 is a party planning company specializing in Party Boxes wrapped in a bow and shipped to you.


Bloggers Meet Startups Four Year Anniversary Photo: Bloggers Meet Startups


RSVP to Bloggers Meet Startups:

RSVP to this free networking event through Eventbrite. Bloggers Meet Startups at 1871 is sold out, but more seats may become available, so add yourself to the waitlist!

Special thanks to Intelligent Events for the featured image.

Special thanks to Maddy Osman, Founder of Chicago Cheap Ass, for this opportunity. Osman is a new leading member of Bloggers Meet Startups and you can read about her plans and involvement on Built in Chicago here.

Other Blog Events and Tech Events This Week:

February Wine & Web: Blogging Best Practices

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm,  learn about writing better blog posts from Orbit Media. The event includes wine and Lou Malnati’s pizza, and tips on the following:

  • How to write for scanners
  • How to write blog posts that get more traffic and clicks
  • How to optimize for social
  • How to use visuals to increase dwell time

RSVP to Wine and Web here.  P.S. There are only five tickets left!

Chicago has a monthly tech showcase sponsored by Technori. The Technori Winter Showcase brings together 500 entrepreneurs, developers, designers, investors, and tech enthusiasts to watch five companies present for five minutes each, with an interactive Q&A session. The event is Wednesday, February 24, 2016, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, with an after party at Rosebud Teatre District.

RSVP to Technori Winter Showcase for last-minute tickets here.

P.S. I know this event is the same day as my event, Bloggers Meet Startups, but I really wanted to go to this event, so I’m sharing it.

P.S.S. The conference is recorded and you can watch past speakers here. 

Hope to meet you in person and share with you the story behind Windy City Cosmo!