When starting a business, coming up with a name is one of the first things an entrepreneur thinks about. It is also one of the more difficult things to do. For a tech company, you are not only coming up with the company name, but also the domain name.
As we built the business concept of this company, we simply called it FPO—which boringly stood for Financial Planning Online. Even though we know that financial planning is at the heart of the technology platform we are building, that was not how we wanted to market or position the company. After all, how interesting or sexy can you make that sound?
Yet, when we were trying to come up with a name, time and again the word “plan” kept popping up. Not only were we trying to incorporate the word “plan” into the name—such as “PlanIT”, or “WebPlan”, but our word association even led us to making up a name from sounds. We tried “Ka-Plan!” much like you would see the word “Pow!” or “Boom!” in the old Batman TV show to convey the sound of a punch. The brainstorming continued and we batted around other sounds like “Cha-Ching”. We were thinking it would be cool to use that sound for email alerts to our users (like Southwest Airline’s ding sound). It was kind of funny when we discovered that another company was already named Cha-Ching. The sound avenue just didn’t work.
With no real candidates in sight, we decided to engage a corporate identity firm to help us. We figured that someone coming at it from the outside would provide us with a different perspective. When they showed us the first round of names, it was apparent that they were also going down the same path of using the word “plan”. This just confirmed that the inspiration would most likely come from within the company. Though they didn’t come up with our name, they did design our logo. We call it “The Quan”.
We have to admit that we wanted the honor of coming up with the name ourselves, anyway. We knew that we would recognize it when we saw it. Meaning that there wouldn’t be any debate about it. We would know it right away—the aha! moment. And it would probably come when we least expected it.
Sure enough, it happened one Saturday afternoon while my wife, Karen, and I were watching college football. I was channel surfing during commercials when I came upon the movie “Jerry Maguire” on another station. It was right at the moment in the movie in which Tom Cruise’s character tells Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character that he will show him the kwan. The kwan is explained earlier by Cuba Gooding’s character as, “…love, respect, community…and the dollars too. The whole package. The kwan.” We immediately looked at each other, and we both knew.
I quickly searched for the movie’s script online, and learned that it was spelled “Kwan”, which is a common Korean surname, like Smith in English. So I spelled it “Quan” instead. Even though it was a cool looking word, we thought that naming the company Quan required too much explanation and was too much inside information.
Later that night as we were driving to a hockey game, I started thinking of what words contained “quan”—quantum, quantity, quantify! After all, helping people achieve their financial goals will very much require users to quantify their financial situation. But the name needed to look both financial and techie. So, we replaced the “y” at the end with an “i” to make it “Quantifi”—the “fi” ending referring to finances. We then added an “i” at the beginning to signify how our users would be taking action on achieving their own financial goals. Plus, an “i” at the beginning of anything nowadays pretty much brings to mind technology. So remember, that’s iQuantifi with an “i”, not iQuantify.
After a little research and domain buying, the package was complete. We had our name. It was definitely an interesting series of events that got us to that point, and I would never have predicted the challenges in advance. At the same time, I believe that it was an experience well worth the wait and uncertainty. Now I just have to figure out how to get Cuba Gooding Jr. to be our spokesperson. Anyone have any contacts?