Finding A Domain Extension for Your Startup

Almost every start-up founder runs into the same problem early on. You’ve created the perfect business idea and are ready to start pitching, but what is a suitable name for your future company? It often takes late-night discussions, whiteboard sessions and frustrating Google searches to find a name that fits.

Once you have found a company name, you are only halfway there. Nowadays each business needs an online presence, and most owners will choose a website to reach their customers. But the number of sites keeps on growing, and many useful dot Com domains are already taken or too expensive to buy.

So, should you spend your money on the dot-com domain? Or is it better use a different website extension?

Picture by Galymzhan Abdugalimov on Unsplash

Brand Your Business

New types of top-level domains bring a big advantage with them: they greatly increase your choice when you need a website. You can choose a location-specific domain such as dot NYC, pick an industry specific website ending like dot Radio or go for a more generic technology domain extension like dot AI.

This plethora of domain choices brings with it even more upsides for your future business:

1. Use it to brand your company 
Your website is more than just a page, it is a way for you to build your brand. The many new types of top-level domains let you choose the domain extension that is perfect for your brand. If you are an eCommerce website, for example, you can use the dot Shop or dot Store domain to make the purpose of your website more clear.

2. Create a short, easy to remember website address
The dot Com domain extension has been around for such a long time, that most of the short domain names are now gone. Unless you want a strange combination of letters and numbers, you might encounter issues when trying to purchase your ideal domain. 
 Because of the high availability of alternative domain extensions, it is a lot easier to buy a domain that is short and easy to remember such as your company name.

3. Show your audience you are aware of trends
As a startup, your audience will expect you to be on top of the latest developments. You can show them that you are in the know by choosing a new type of domain name that suits your business. If you do, you are in good company: large business already use domain names like or to reach their audience.

4. Save money on your domain
You’re a startup and everything seems expensive with your budget. If you are at the beginning of developing of your business, you probably want to use that money for the product or service. A new type of top-level domain can give you an online presence without breaking the bank. You can save thousands of dollars and still own a great website, if you look beyond the traditional dot Com domain.

5. Get identified as a local business 
This is only for those startups that operate locally, but a local top-level domain can help you excel. Google loves local top-level domains such as dot Amsterdam or dot NYC in mobile searches, because people who look for certain services on their phone will probably want that service close to themselves. No point finding a locksmith in Chicago if you are in the Boston area.
 If you want to take your business to multiple cities that have their own domain extension, why not buy those location-related domains to get in touch with your potential customers?

Stick to dot Com

There are, of course, also arguments to be made for buying a dot Com. It is the best-known and most used domain extension after all. You can brand your new domain extension as much as you like, but when people forget what the ending was their most likely guess will be dot Com.

It is true that dot Com domains are expensive, but sometimes they are worth the investment. The choice for an alternative domain name can give two signals: you are either hip and creative, or just not big enough to buy yourself a decent domain name. If you are active in an industry where your competition has forked over lots of money to buy a dot Com, you will probably want to do the same. Being the only one of your competitors with an alternative domain name will make you look weak, and can damage your business.

In addition, a dot Com is unlikely to go out of style. It is the most-used domain extension and will probably stay this way for a long time. Whether that will also hold true for new extensions such as dot AI or dot OI remains to be seen.

The Y Combinator Case

What better way to see what other starting companies are doing then a little look into Y Combinator businesses? This famous startup incubator helps startups get more funding and further develop their ideas. It has already invested in big names such as Dropbox, Airbnb and Coinbase.

Of the 255 start-ups that have publicly launched in 2017, there was 73 percent that stuck to a dot Com. Of the 27 percent that chose an alternative domain extension, just over a third went for a dot IO domain. Other popular domain names included dot AI and dot Co.

Only three start-ups from Y Combinator had a non-profit or sort like approach, and used the dot Org domain name to show this. Then there were those who used location-specific domains, two for Canada’s dot Ca and one for Brazil’s dot Br. The twice-used domain extension .GG is originally location-specific, but was used to represent game startups both times. A more creative approach was taken by companies that used a dot Fun, dot Space or dot Global domain.

A Quiet Transition

For now, it looks like the dot Com domain still reigns. Will it stay this way, or are we moving towards a changing domain-landscape? A recent report by ResellerClub shows that registrations for new types of top-level domains are on the rise. Our data supports this claim, as the market share of new types of top-level domains shows a small but steady increase.

What do you think, should you always try to get a dot Com domain? Or is originality the way to go?

For more information on types of top-level domains or our data, contact us via

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