Domains for Startups: One-word .CO, .ME, .IO vs. Two-word .COM

Recently I’ve been talking with a startup that I met in San Francisco last week at an event one of our VC firms put on for their portfolio companies. The startup is going through a rebranding and they are trying to pick the right domain name for their business. They currently have a brandable one-word .COM that’s not working for them because it doesn’t pass the radio or billboard test.

For those who don’t know what the radio or billboard test is, I’ll give a quick recap. The radio test means if someone hears your name on the radio they can easily remember it and type it into Google to get to your site. The billboard test means if someone were to see your name on a billboard (remember billboards?) they would be able to remember it and type it into Google to get to your site.

Ten years ago people used to hear a name and go directly to, now people go to and type in “company name” which is why we see so many companies branding around TLDs like .CO, .ME, .IO and many of the other new gTLDs like .WORLD, .CLUB, etc.

This particular startup is B2B and they are trying to decide between a one-word .CO, .ME, or .IO for their business, or a two-word .COM. There are countless examples of venture-backed startups branding on two-word .IO’s with being one of my favorite examples as a fellow Techstars company. At the same time, it’s no secret that .COM has been around for a lot longer and without a doubt far more startups brand on two-word .COMs than anything else.

Still if you want to call your company one single word, .COM pricing can be in the six-figure range which is where other domain extensions like .CO, .ME, and .IO can really shine.

So what would you do? Would you pick a one-word .CO, .ME, or .IO or a two-word .COM?

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton