My Ridiculous Company Name - $100k App Challenge #5
I'm shocked this is allowed, and I feel slimy for doing it, but I'll be damned if I don't use everything to my advantage.
Did you know that there is apparently no character limit for the name of a business? Did you also know that Apple includes your business name as part of your App Store keywords? Well, I hate to be that guy, but I’m going to have to take advantage of this. I need to make $100k in 6 months, I’ll take everything I can get.
So I’m building a new app, the meal planner thing. I’m serious about this. So, I decided to form a Deleware LLC for the app. Previously, I used to bundle all of my apps under the same company, Shakd. This makes a lot of things easier, but it also makes some important things harder.
If you ever want to sell the app, it’s a lot easier when from day 1, everything is separated. Over the past few years, I’ve had numerous conversations with brokers and companies who buy apps and one thing I always wish I did was separate every app into its own company, with its own books and its own expenses.
There’s also the liability angle. Granted, I’m not a lawyer nor an accountant, but I’ve spent quite a bit of money paying them for advice, and I don’t think any of them would recommend lumping every app you make into the same company. If one app goes down (think lawsuit), then it could potentially take the others with it.
Also, I like to keep my expenses and accounting very organized. The idea of every app I make having its own, separate books gets me really excited. For example, this is the P&L for my current business in May:
I’ve invested a lot of hours into getting my books as accurate as possible so I can pull up my numbers like this on the fly and actually see how my biz is doing. I went back and forth with multiple bookkeepers, decided to move to the accrual accounting method, and routinely go over expenses. The end result is a very clear understanding of the financial status of my business. My dream is to have this level of insight into every single app. Hence, why I decided to form a new company.
Another benefit of forming a company for every app is you can take advantage of all the startup plans that SaaS companies offer. I’m paying Mixpanel a fortune for analytics—$28k a year. Amplitude, Mixpanel, Intercom, and many other companies offer really generous “startup” plans that require your company to be just a few years old. Next, depending on what incorporation service you use, you can get a ton of free stuff. I used Stripe Atlas so I’m getting all of these benefits:
How I Incorporated
Anyway, now that you understand why I decided to form a new company, let me walk you through how I did it. My original company was incorporated via LegalZoom (yes, please laugh at me) which did an okay job. I formed a New Jersey LLC because unfortunately, that’s where I was living at the time. It works, but it makes some things complicated.
Deleware is the go-to incorporation state for a number of reasons. One cool piece is that if I ever do decide to raise venture capital money (which I don’t think I will), then converting from a Deleware LLC to a Deleware C-Corp (the preferred company type for raising money) is a bit easier.
Stripe Atlas makes it super easy—you give them a name, some other info, $500, and they take care of the whole thing for you. They get your EIN set up so you can create a company bank account, write your incorporation documents, and file all the paperwork with the government. The process has been smooth so far.
I did research a bit into other incorporation services. If you look on Reddit, people will tell you to do it yourself. To me, that doesn’t make sense because $500 is really a trivial amount of money in the grand scheme of things, and I’d rather have rock-solid incorporation documents and peace of mind than save a few hundred dollars. Stripe Atlas has a very good reputation. I know multiple people who have used them, including companies who have raised money, so the decision was easy. Plus, I’m going to be using Stripe in the app anyway, so might as well.
As I was filling out the Stripe Atlas form, I ran into a problem—I wanted to create a new stripe account to start separating out all the expenses and accounts of the new app. So I needed a name for this idea, a domain, and an email address.
I Need a Name
By this point, I’ve named many apps. Through that experience, I’ve developed a small list of requirements for the name:
The name must:
1) be slightly relevant to the product
2) have a great domain name
3) be available to trademark
4) be easy to pronounce
5) not evoke any weird feelings when I think about it (pop culture, competitors, etc.)
With that in mind, I executed my tried and true strategy for name research: Pick a domain first, then pick a name. Even further, use the domains to inform your name choices. There are really so many cool domains nowadays.
So, I picked a word that’s relevant to what I’m building— “meal”— and then did a domain name search on that. These were the names/domains I found that sounded the best to me.
I asked a couple of friends what they thought and landed on Mealfarm. Mealfun was a close second, but the domain was $700 and meal.farm was like $20. For the sake of this challenge, I’m trying to be as lean as possible (except on important things like company formation!). Once I get the EIN for the company, I’ll create a bank account and hopefully make a dashboard where you can see exactly what I’m spending money on and what my balance is. My goal is to fund the business with roughly $2500 and then self-sustain from there.
Overall, I’m of the opinion that names don’t matter that much. The fact that Uber became a giant company just proves that to me. That word was such a joke before the company was formed. A company can, within reason, infuse whatever brand or feeling into most company names, as long as it’s not ridiculous.
I created my meal.farm email address (firstname.lastname@example.org, say hi if you want). Now that I had the website and app name, I wanted to pick the actual legal name for the company. This is the name that would appear on the App Store, and in some other places. So here’s what I did.
How I Picked the Legal Company Name
I went on Appfigures and pulled all the top keywords for the highest-grossing food-related apps like so:
I pulled up MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, Zero Fasting, Noom, BetterMe, and WW. I exported all their keywords and related metadata into a Google sheet. I then removed duplicates and sorted by Popularity—a proxy for seeing how many people are searching for a given term on the App Store. I then went through all the keywords and highlighted the ones I thought were relevant to the app I’m building. This is what that looked like:
So now, knowing that the company name acts like keywords in the App Store, I decided to pull in as many of these words as possible. I wondered if there was a character limit for Deleware LLC names or Apple company names. I googled, ask a Reddit community, tweeted about it, but nobody seemed to know. I played around with the Stripe form and even that didn’t limit the number of characters. So this is the name I ended up with for my company: Mealfarm Recipes Meal Prep Tracker Planner Calorie Counter Macro for Diets and Weight Loss Vegan Keto Protein, LLC. The next day, Stripe Atlas confirmed that there is no character limit. Isn’t that crazy?
I’m not going to lie, I was laughing very hard while typing this into Stripe. I submitted the form and the next day, I received this email:
So it worked! We had a nice conversation about this on Twitter, take a read if you’re interested. The founder of Appfigures actually confirmed that your company name does, in fact, act like keywords, but they are weak keywords and not as effective as normal ones that come from your title or subtitle. Either way, I’ll take every little advantage I can get.
If you’re interested, Mealfarm will be selling these beautiful, hip t-shirts:
Even if it barely helps me in the App Store, I was going to do this keyword research anyway. I imagine most developers do minimal research into their keywords. They are so, so, so important for getting organic traffic and downloads on your app. I’ll talk about this more when I’m actually picking the keywords for Mealfarm.
I’m working on a Webflow landing page for Mealfarm so I can start collecting emails. I’m also starting to jot down ideas about how the actual app is going to work. I’ll be talking about those in the next post so make sure you subscribe! Lastly, I’m learning React right now because I’m going to be building a substantial amount of the app on the web. The IDFA iOS 14 changes will make paid acquisition a lot more difficult to measure, but I’ve been talking with some friends and have an idea for mitigating this. It basically involves having the user sign up for the app on a website, complete onboarding, and even pay and then download the app. If you have any good resources for learning React, please send them my way (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).