I like the Beeminder name, I wrote, because it suggests industriousness. But there’s a lot more to say about the name, and I’m pleased to report that the Beeminder said much of it in a September 2011 blog post.
Co-founder Daniel Reeves wrote that Beeminder was originally called Kibotzer, a blend of kibitzer (Yiddish for someone who gives unasked-for advice—accent on kib, please) and bot (“a machine or program that interacts with you in a vaguely human way”). Thus Kibotzer: “A bot that bugs you about how fat you are.”
That’s cute, but when the founders decided to turn their hobby into a real business, they acknowledged that the name had to go. “Kibotzer” turned out to be hard to pronounce, and not enough people knew what a kibitzer was.
So they cast about for a new name. I hope they started with a naming brief—the blog post doesn’t mention it, and I’m sorry to say that many startups skip this essential step—but at least they “filled pages with candidate names.” That’s good: you need a lot of names, in a lot of styles, before you start narrowing the field. And the also-rans mentioned in the post show a lot of good lateral thinking: Flakeproof, Goalbugger, even Funky Goal Medina.
I wasn’t surprised to learn, however, that Beeminder came from someone outside the core team: founders are often too close to the problem to recognize the most effective solution. Once Beeminder was on the table, its advantages were evident. Here’s how co-founder Reeves spells it out:
- Beeminder is a “me-binder” — a self-binding tool.
- “Beeminder” rhymes with “reminder”.
- It’s about “minding your goals” in the “mind your p’s and q’s” sense. (“Bee-mindful”)
- Our esteemed co-founder Bethany Soule goes by “Bee”.
- Bees are just cute (and hard-working!).
- Beeminder sends reminders with a motivational sting.
- Beeminder helps you make a beeline for your goal.
- You use Beeminder because you want to be minded.
It’s not just that Beeminder evokes multiple meanings, it’s that all of the meanings are positive and relevant. Together, they add up to a strong, clear story that’s fun to tell—and to repeat to friends.
By happy coincidence, Ben Yagoda of the Not One-Off Britishisms blog wrote earlier this week that “minder”—a Britishism meaning “a person in charge of something”—is increasingly popular among speakers of American English. He cites four recent “minder” appearances, including one in the TV show “Gossip Girl.”