Startup idea and web domain - is it being done already?


I have an idea, and would like to pursue it. Whether or not it becomes big enough to create a startup from it I don't know yet.

I have search for other web sites that provide the same service, and have not found one. But I have struggled to come up with a name for the service that also has a free web domain (most of them have squatters sitting on them and they can just go do one). Then I came up with one, checked it online, and found that the .com version was the only one that was taken. But the .com version had a website with "coming soon" (since 2008) on it, and you can sign up for alpha testing when it becomes free.

That's a lot of blah blah, so here's my two questions:

  1. How possible, in your opinion, is it that this other site will be doing a similiar thing to my idea?
  2. Since I have no way of really knowing the answer to question 1 (but am just asking for people's opinions), is it worth buying the .net domain and using that, of course running the risk that the .com one becomes active soon and if it's doing the same thing, will make the domain completely redundant?

All other additional thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Subjective Website Product Management

asked Oct 20 '09 at 18:19
121 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

13 Answers


Keep in mind that you can have a domain name that doesn't exactly map to the product name. Look at the products by 37signals. Their domain name for Basecamp is, Campfire is, and Backpack is

answered Oct 20 '09 at 23:45
171 points


I would say try to come up with a domain that you can get a .com for. This is because when it comes to marketing people often do not remember that its instead of They will see that it is under construction and leave.

There is almost no idea that does not already have at least 1 site already semi accomplishing the goal. I would not let this deter you from moving forward.

answered Oct 20 '09 at 21:53
Cory Mathews
326 points
  • Yeah, getting a .com is what I'm trying to do, but how hard is that! :-) – Iandevlin 14 years ago
  • Hey I didn't say it would be easy :) – Cory Mathews 14 years ago
  • Haha thanks, how true! – Iandevlin 14 years ago


It sounds like they're dead, but you never know.

The biggest danger is that if you get invested in what you're doing, then they come to market with their product, technically they have a prior right to use that name and worst case you might have to change names, undoing any marketing you may have done up to that point.

Pick something different and witty, get the .com, and be original.

answered Oct 26 '09 at 15:39
Gabriel Hurley
785 points


Just be original. I'm afraid you will HATE yourself for going the .net route down the line.

This may be your worst problem: potential customers will accidentally email the .com and not the .net, and since the competitor may be at the .com, they'll be getting your inquiries. Ouch.

answered Oct 23 '09 at 16:49
Ben Mc
421 points
  • Yeah I know, that's what I thought too, but I wanted to see if I was being silly or if others had the same opinion :-) – Iandevlin 14 years ago


We had alot of pains in coming up with a company name as well, but in the end we used a site: and it was great. Try it out. Yes, it is not free, but definitely cheaper than the $10K that some organizations charge for a similar service.

answered Oct 20 '09 at 23:51
1,080 points


A note about your competition, if they are still 'coming soon in 2008' don't worry as much. Google them, search the guys on whois, chances are something has gone wrong.

answered Oct 21 '09 at 02:00
Alex Blom
231 points


Don't rule out the "domain after-market" (e.g. SEDO.COM, Afternic.COM). In this economy, the owners of domains that aren't developed are often quite willing to make a deal. You may be able to get the perfect domain for less than you think. Depending on your budget, the right (memorable, short, .COM) domain name is totally worth it.

Also my site, will help you search for available COM domains for free.

I also made a StackExchange site,, for helping people with domain issues. :)

answered Oct 25 '09 at 02:38
749 points


First: Branding is important, but don't get too hung up on it at first, or nothing will get done. If you are married to your name, I would suggest 3 approaches:

  1. E-mail/Call the owners of the domain (find it in the WhoIs listing), and simply ask them if they are willing to sell. You would be surprised how many people are.
  2. Try a domain acquisition service like GoDaddy (they have a service called Domain Buy) or Sedo. They will actually reach out to the owners and try to work out a deal on your behalf.
  3. You see a lot of popular sites these days that don't have a .com domain, but they have a domain that is like a play on words. Ex:
answered Sep 27 '10 at 07:23
333 points

0 was purchased for $200,000 after the company was incorporated (and after substantial funds were raised.) If you ask me, it was a $200k well spent because would not have cut it.

answered Oct 26 '09 at 15:29
277 points


A .com address is generally better. Unless this domain is something like, I doubt you'd need to worry about a copycat.

Basically, you're worrying too much about non-issues. Create and launch your site and try to get some users and customers.

answered Oct 23 '09 at 19:00
379 points


You have to be prepared. They probably are doing the same idea but in a different way.

Anyway, you shouldn't quit because of that. There's always space for more than one product in the market!

answered Oct 20 '09 at 19:02
333 points


Keep working on coming up with a name. It doesn't have to relate to anything you do, as evidenced by Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, FogCreek, StackOverflow, etc. There is no perfect name, and most of the names you think of will be taken.

As for competition... if it's a good idea, it will happen. Whether it's already there or has yet to happen, it's a fact of life. Someone with more money and knowledge than you can always recreate exactly what you do... or what anyone else does. That's just part of life.

answered Oct 20 '09 at 22:11
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points
  • Good points, and regarding the name, this is true, although StackOverflow probably isn't the best example in that respect as it does have something to do with programming! BTW thought I recognised your name, the Daily WTF is great! – Iandevlin 14 years ago


"is it worth buying the .net domain and using that?" Emphatically no.

  • half of your potential customers will think it is the .com URL. If the other domain remains dead, they will think it's you.
  • The other company has a good case that you are either URL squatting or attempting to confuse their customers. How is this good for your company?

There are plenty of better options available.

answered Oct 21 '09 at 03:02
Bob Walsh
2,620 points

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