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When Is It a Good Idea to Change Your Company's Name?

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How do you know when to put all of your weight behind a successful product?

In 2013, MIT alums Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor launched a company called 6SensorLabs with the goal of making going out to eat easier and safer for their fellow food allergy sufferers. Three years later, the startup just raised $9.2 million in a Series A financing round and announced that it is changing its name from 6SensorLabs to Nima, the name of its first product. Nima is a portable sensor that tests whether food contains gluten within minutes.

Related: Avoiding Gluten? Take This New Device Out to Dinner.

"We feel like Nima is much more known to our consumers and for our potential customers. It's more of our outward facing name,” Yates, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told Entrepreneur. “We wanted to streamline our efforts and really strengthen the brand by merging the two, our corporate identity with our first product. Nima means fair and equitable [in Persian]. It really stands for everything that we’re doing in regards to food transparency, giving everyone a chance of enjoying their meal and having that peace of mind."

Currently available for pre-order on the company's website, Nima devices will begin shipping to customers in the fall.  Starter kits are priced at $199. Yates says that the funding round, from investors such as SK Ventures, Lemnos Labs and Nest founder Matt Rogers, will mainly go toward the research and development of the tests for peanuts and dairy, with those tests on track to be ready sometime next year. The funds will also go toward growing Nima’s staff and expanding the device's accompanying app.

Related: 7 Tips for Naming (or Re-Naming) Your Company

But Yates says that while technology can be compelling, it can only take a company so far. "I recently went back to our original pitch deck. In order to develop something that's new to the world, that’s a brand new product category, it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of rigor. You have to make sure you're making the right product for the consumer. [With technology], you have to really understand if it's what people want."

Nima is one of many companies that have changed names to better align with customer name recognition. Canada’s Research in Motion rebranded as BlackBerry in 2013 to reflect its well-known mobile devices, while Apple Computer simply  became Apple in 2007. And back in 1958, Japanese electronics manufacturer Totsuko changed its named to Sony after the success of its first product, a megaphone.

Edition: October 2016

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