Bookkeeping startup Pilot started life as Zapgram, a name that was universally hated.
In 2017, a year after forming, Zapgram rebranded to Pilot and acquired the Pilot.com domain name, but did you know the company could have been rebranded to Swan, or Cast, or Mountain?
Pilot’s founder, Waseem Daher, has written an in-depth look at the company’s digital branding strategy, and how the company ultimately settled on Pilot and Pilot.com.
Daher’s article, hosted on his Substack, reveals that Daher and his team wanted the company to be branded around “a single word that is spellable, pronounceable, and one where we could get the .com.”
Why is a premium .com so important? According to Daher:
“For financial services businesses like ours, you need a name that is credible and instills trust. You’re not going to trust GetOnlineBooks4u.biz or TryFastbooks.io with your bank account information—or at least, you probably shouldn’t. Your domain name should amplify your brand, not hold it back.”
The naming process involved Daher and his co-founders brainstorming potential names and checking the equivalent .com to see whether the domain was obviously in use.
Ultimately, with the help of brokerage company Lumis, the company managed to acquire Pilot.com from media giant Hearst.
According to Daher, the company paid $400,000 for the domain name in 2017. The company used funds from a $3 million funding round in order to secure the domain. If reported, the $400,000 sale of Pilot.com would have ranked as the 16th-largest sale of 2017, according to DNJournal.
Since acquiring Pilot.com, the company has gone on to raise a further $158 million in funding, including a $100 million round closed in March 2021.