folder Filed in Interviews
Names with stories: The story behind Airbase.com
By Kristina Misic access_time 9 min read

Thejo Kote, Founder & CEO of Airbase, talks about his brand, what are the characteristics of an effective brand name, and why you should treat your domain name as an intangible asset.

When did you start thinking about your brand name and how did you settle on Airbase?

When it comes to naming companies, my approach and philosophy generally is that first and foremost – brand names matter. If you have a crazy hard-to-remember, hard-to-pronounce brand name –  that doesn’t help, right? Especially if you’re building a B2B software company, and especially in the area where we are building a company where you’re handling people’s money (and it’s a lot of money) – your brand name needs to be a priority.  

So with that in mind, it’s always important that you have a good brand name that people can have confidence in. When it comes to the specific name I think of one of the mistakes that most founders and entrepreneurs make, which I made in my previous companies, is that you come up with the name and you fall in love with it and then you find out that you can’t get the dot com domain. 


When it comes to the specific name I think of one of the mistakes that most founders and entrepreneurs make, which I made in my previous companies, is that you come up with the name and you fall in love with it and then you find out that you can’t get the dot com domain. 

Thejo Kote, Founder & CEO of Airbase

You can get the right domain and try to make all kinds of compromises around getting the combinations and then it doesn’t work out and you’ve just wasted a significant amount of time.

My lesson is to always say don’t fall in love with the name. First, start by looking at what domains are available. That’s the approach I took when I started looking for a name and brand for this company that I wanted to create that is now Airbase. 

There are tools out there that you can use to find out which domains are going to become available soon because they’re expiring and I did that for a couple of weeks. I would start looking at this tool to see when domains we’re going to become available and that met my criteria for a good brand and name.

For me – a good brand name has to have the following characteristics:

1. Dictionary word. I wanted to always make sure that the name of the company was a dictionary word and that it was easy to pronounce because word of mouth is important. It should be easy for you to understand if it’s a dictionary word and easy to pronounce. 

2. Is it a brandable name? Not every dictionary word can become a nice brand name over time. I ultimately believe that Airbase is a good strong brand that we can continue to grow. A test I believe is helpful is asking yourself the question: 

“Would you be happy to put that name up on a billboard on the 101”? 

And if the answer is yes then the next question is:

“Would you be happy to take an ad out on TV and to promote your brand?” 

If you’re honest with yourself and you feel like your brand name could be slightly embarrassing then maybe it’s not the brand name for you. 

3. Connection. I don’t think it’s super important for the name to be connected directly to what you’re doing. If you can find the name that checks all the other boxes and it is very related to the business that you’re building – fantastic. 

I think that’s a perfect combination. 

But I don’t think it’s necessary. 

In our case, Airbase is somewhat related to the problem that we’re solving, which is that Airbase is a platform where things come together and that’s what we do from a spend management perspective. We bring all of these different elements of spend into a single platform. 

That’s how I landed on the name Airbase and this was the criteria I set for myself when developing it. 

What was the reason to get the domain name Airbase.com for your brand? 

Dotcom signifies something to end-users and customers. It signifies that you’re a serious company, it denotes that you are a much larger company, which at times you might need. 

Everybody knows at this point that getting a dictionary word with a dot com domain is not easy – it’s quite hard.

Dotcom is by far the most identified top-level domain in the world and having that is good in helping to avoid having people ending up somewhere else when they are looking for your company. 


Dotcom is by far the most identified top-level domain in the world and having that is good in helping to avoid having people ending up somewhere else when they are looking for your company. 

Thejo Kote, Founder & CEO of Airbase

I believe having the domain for Airbase.com conveys the feeling of being an established larger company – and that comes with having the dotcom.

How has owning Airbase.com affected your business? Do you own any other domain names?

There’s no way to actively measure it, but I believe owning Airbase.com is an asset. 

It’s an investment at the end of the day and even if you end up spending a good amount of money buying the dot com domain, you should think of it as an asset. 

It’s an asset that we appreciate over time that you can also sell in the future. Can I make an ROI calculation on what we spent on that domain? And has it been worth that much and connect the dots directly? No. That’s harder to do. But in the long term, I think it’s valuable.

Do you own other domain names?

Yes, we have a number of top-level domains. Airbase.io, Airbase.in and a whole bunch of those things and we use them for various purposes.

What would you do differently if you were entering your category market as a brand today? 

We’re a fairly new company and everything we have executed has gone exactly the way we wanted it to so far – we wouldn’t do anything differently.

Why should entrepreneurs value their brand?

From a purely business perspective, it reduces your cost of acquisition of customers and the bigger and better brand that you have, the less money you have to spend to acquire new customers no matter what kind of business you are. You could be a B2B business might be a B2C business – but if you have a strong brand, you will attract more customers and you don’t have to spend as much money attracting new customers, which is an incredibly important thing.

Has the pandemic affected your company in any way? What has changed since?

We were always a fully distributed team. So from that perspective moving to a remote and distributed workforce wasn’t a big deal for us. It was more of a challenge for individual team members who obviously struggled like everyone else in lots of ways with kids and we tried to be as supportive as possible. 

What has changed since is that we have doubled down on our strategy to hire more team members in other places in the world and we continue to scale since that point. Different people in the team have been impacted by the pandemic at different times. For example, we have a good size team in India that is now in the midst of a second wave and so we have to be sensitive and plan things accordingly because we’re a globally distributed team, but that’s an ongoing process.

What would your advice be to entrepreneurs who are just starting out, in general, and when it comes to branding and naming?

Take branding seriously, start thinking about it from the early days and don’t make it an afterthought. 

Assume you will be successful one day and pick the right name that can grow into being a successful company over time. My recommendation to anybody who asks me about that is to think about it in a slightly rational way. Have a process for how you arrive with a name and if you do that then you won’t fall into this trap of falling in love with a name and then having to let it go. 

Where do you see your business in the future and how does your brand name fit into that vision?

We are working towards our long-term vision of being the single platform that consolidates all non-payroll spend across major categories that include corporate card payments and expense reimbursement. There was always a vision and we have been working towards that vision and it’s going to take multiple years for us to live up to that vision and deliver on the goals we have set for ourselves. The name Airbase was set up to align with that vision and we think it’s a brand name that we are proud of and one we are excited to see continue to grow.


We hope the above information will help you in making informed decisions about your brand. If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.

Find out more about Airbase

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