Domains for startups – what to do when you can’t buy the domain you want?

If you’ve ever wanted to buy a domain name for your startup there’s an incredibly good chance that domain has already been taken. I wrote an article on that goes through all the basics of acquiring a domain that’s owned by someone else.

The problem is – what if you’ve tried everything and the deal just isn’t going to happen?

This is a situation that many startups find themselves in and there are really only two choices:

  1. Pick a different company name
  2. Pick a different domain name extension

This is where things get confusing. If you can’t get the .COM, what do you pick? There are more options now than ever and from where I’m sitting new entrants like .CO, .ME, .CLUB, .IO, .XYZ, .NYC and many other new domain extensions are higher on most people’s lists than good old .NET or .ORG.

I personally think this decision depends on what your startup is doing.

Extensions like .CO and .ME are both short, easy to remember, and incredibly brandable…and there’s a good chance that premium one-word name you want is available for under $10k in either extension. New extensions like .CLUB are great for startups running monthly or quarterly subscription clubs. It’s easy for a consumer to understand that could be a subscription club about anything.

There’s also .IO which has been an absolute hit with the dev community, this is a go-to for startups building API’s or developer tools. .XYZ has branded itself as a generic domain extensions that is open to anyone, and last but certainly not least are extensions like .NYC and .LONDON that are perfect for city-specific startups.

In short, if you can’t get the .COM, I think there is a solid shortlist you can start with, but don’t expect one answer because it really does depend what you do and what market you’re in. The good news is there are more domain extensions now than ever which means the opportunities are almost endless.

That’s my two cents, now I’ll turn this question over to you. If you can’t get the .COM what extension would you pick? (or would you go with option #1 above?)

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton