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Why My First Business Succeeded (Part III - Naming The Business)


Since my business plan went through [see cute story here], it was time to start my restaurant. Yes, I was only 6, but I had dreams, dammit.

I needed a name now. I wanted something that sounded "classy but hip," "old school but modern," "give me your money but in a wildly fair way where you and I both remain totally guiltless about the prices."

Calling it "Jake's" was too obvious, too predictable, too cliché. Too Michael down the street (this kid who once stole a bunch of my pogs, when my dad had said he was a bad kid from day one).

Everyone was expecting "Jake's."

Instead, I thought about naming it after my favorite things, but what wealthy customers (when you're in first grade, that's just about anyone with over $50 in his or her pockets) would eat at a restaurant called "Chocolateballoonsgokartsdancingcartoonsrecess?"

Also, such a name could've been misleading anyway.

I began to realize that naming the restaurant might actually be harder than chapter books without pictures.

Here, Peter S. Sloane, an attorney specializing in trademark matters and a partner at Ostrolenk Faber LLP, and David Perla, a lawyer and co-founder of Pangea3, a leading legal outsourcing company, have three rules for naming your company:

1. Don't assume you own a trademark.

2. Don't use geographically descriptive terms.

3. Don't go adjective crazy.

Then it clicked.

I knew what I wanted to name it, and I considered the name to be hip, edgy and sophisticated.

I came up with "eEvita's."

No, that's not a typo, nor was it a misspelling years ago. I thought of myself as an innovative grammatical renegade.

My mother remembers a different story, saying that I wrote the lower case first and was too lazy to get a new piece of paper. But mothers will be mothers, I suppose. Well, except for in this story, the mother will be a cook and valued employee.

John Williams, the founder and president of, the world's first do-it-yourself logo design website, poses two questions for naming your company here:

1. Is it easy to say? Names are said more than read. After all, when words are read, they're also spoken in the mind of the reader.

Bam. Easy to say. You just say it like the first "e" is missing. It's pronounced "Evita's."

2. Is it easy to spell? Can customers find it in the phone book or "Google" it without trouble? Usually words that are easy to spell are also relatively short. Avoid acronyms (e.g., "K.A.T.G. Enterprises") and "clever" names that require analysis from your reader (e.g., "CU4 Lunch").

Ok, so the first "e" might have been misleading, but we weren't in the phone book anyway. Besides, this is circa 1992. It's not like they could've easily looked the place up online. The only time the word "Google" was ever used was in the phrase "googley eyes" during arts-and-crafts time.

So now I had a business plan for a company with a name. I was ready to expand. But who was coming with me?

Here's the sign that I made and pinned to the front door:


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ok, so yes, the sign just said "eEvita" and not "eEvita's," though the latter was the actual name of the restaurant. Again, I was an innovative grammatical renegade. If I wanted a name to be different, I played by my own rules. Years later, I joined a soccer team and told the lady who made the uniforms that my name was "J.J." My parents showed up and didn't know where I was or what team to cheer for. Actually, that's basically me in a nutshell, come to think of it.

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