Four worthwhile businesses. Four company names that miss the mark.
Xconomy seems like such a smart company. It's "dedicated to providing business and technology leaders with timely, insightful, close-to-the-scene information about the local personalities, companies, and technological trends that best exemplify today’s high-tech economy." The name is apparently a blend of "exponential" and "economy." But all it suggests to me is a bunch of former prisoners making a fresh start, perhaps in the license-plate business.
Zafu is another great concept saddled with a perplexing name. Zafu helps women find "the perfect pair of jeans or the ideal bra"--two items of apparel that are notoriously, frustratingly difficult to fit. Enter your measurements, your preferences, and your gripes (jeans that always gape at the waist, bra bands that are always too tight), and the Zafu algorithm determines which specific products you should buy. It's not a commerce site, but it partners with retailers that offer the recommended garments. As I said, it's a great concept. So why did the company pick a name that (a) conveys no benefit at all and (b) sounds like Snafu?
Astia is what the Women's Technology Cluster decided to rename itself. It had its reasons for the change, which it takes pains to explain: the organization works with women and men; technology "is typically interpreted as referring to high technology," not all the other forms of technological innovation; cluster "was appropriate when we had principally onsite portfolio companies, but we have now moved completely away from this." As for "Astia," the name-change page gives two Latin sources: Astelia ("a plant, thereby connoting the growth of the companies and leaders we work with") and Astrum ("star, an allusion to the rising star of women entrepreneurs"). Well, that's all very sincere and lovely. But it's not what I get from "Astia." I get, "If I astia once, I astia a million times." The association with Latin-for-star and "a plant"--just any plant? how about some specifics?--is so remote as to be meaningless. I certainly don't perceive the organization's purpose from the name. I suspect this was a case of trying too hard to be a blank canvas; as the name-change page says, the organization "didn't want to alienate any key groups in our community." Yet despite all the rationalizations, Astia still focuses on women-led companies, and it still focuses on technology. The name, meanwhile, has no focus at all. (By the way, none of this is meant to detract from the organization itself: as both WTC and Astia, it's top notch.)
Trikke is pronounced with a long I: "trike." But I'll bet that wasn't your first guess. Standard English pronunciation rules mean the doubled K causes the I to be pronounced as a short vowel. And that's, well, tricky. Again: great product concept--a three-wheeled "cambering vehicle" that lets you use your whole body to navigate your commute. In the video, it looks like big fun--urban skiing without the balance challenges. But whenever you have to open your About page with a pronunication guide you've got one strikke--sorry, strike--against you.