Choosing a (great) company name

January 20, 2022

It all started on a freezing January evening, around half past 10 pm.

Vincenzo messaged Alberto and me, with this two words - without punctuation, in his typical style:

commentatemi compiuta

That is Italian for “give me feedback about compiuta”. And it immediately struck a cord with both of us.

We had been playing around with this idea of starting a company for a while, but things started to get real during the first weeks of January 2021. In retrospect, I don’t really get why we were so obsessed with choosing the perfect name - we barely had any ideas on what to build. But so it was, and we set off to find a great name for our baby.

Naming stuff is hard

Like with any hard problem, a first good step is to identify some constraints to reduce the set of possible solutions:

  • we wanted a name with the corresponding .com domain available. We are builders, not marketers: the reasoning here was that it would have been easier to adjust the name to position ourselves as “THE” company with that name, rather than trying to market our way out;

  • we wanted a short and easy to pronounce name, accounting for different languages. Software has no borders, so our small Italian company would have been global from day one;

  • we wanted a meaningful name, that represented not what we do but what we stand for. During the years, we could change our offering - at the time, it didn’t exist yet - not our values. More on this one later on.

The second step is the key to get anything done: impose a deadline - then usually delay it by a week, due to last minute second-guessing.

We started spitting out names, and got to a list of 24. They were horrible!

Vincenzo tended to come up with nerdier names (catchnull, strongref, typedefus, refcounter), Alberto leveraged compounding (cubicless, dflows) and I looked for meaningful but generic names (integral, macro, takemo - which is a distortion of a dialect word that means “let’s start”).

Without an acceptable solution in sight and our deadline approaching, some of us even started questioning a few of the constraints we had previously imposed - like the .com domain availability. After all, many successful companies don’t own one and we could always buy it later on with an appropriate budget.

I must have been really annoying for my obsession with the .com requirement - but looking back I’m glad we stick to it. Since the choice was either going on with squeezing our thinking caps or hearing my complaints for quite some time, it was a no-brainer for Alberto and Vincenzo - we kept thinking. And here’s the kicker: we doubled down on requirements.

Compiuta just sounded right immediately - it was the perfect fit.

Why Compiuta

Compiuta is an Italian feminine adjective. It stands for “done”, “completed”, “finished“, “accomplished”.

It also sounds like “computer” and without computing Compiuta would not exist - a bit of a tongue twister, right?

At Compiuta, we engineer everything - may it be one of our products or a custom project for a client - starting by defining what “done” means. When will it be ready? What features will it have? We initially create a small and carefully optimized product, useful on its own. Only then we reason on how to extend it, based on what the market says. We strongly believe that great products come from iterations, not grand schemes.

Work-in-progress is not welcome here. Every product or project we tackle must come to an end - only zombie processes are considered failures, risks that don’t pay off are just learning opportunities.

Compiuta is Italian, because even if we have global ambitions we don’t forget our roots.