In this interview, we talk with Bharath Krishnamoorthy, CEO and Co-Founder of Denim, about the process of rebranding, why the previous name was limiting for the business, and the role of a domain name in branding today.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you do before you started your business?
After graduating from Columbia Law School and James Madison University, I worked as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher before starting Denim with my longtime friend, Shawn Vo.
Outside of Denim, I mentor several up-and-coming entrepreneurs and currently serve on the advisory board of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at James Madison University. I live in New York City and am an avid runner and reader.
How was the idea for Denim (ex Axle Payments) born?
Co-founder and CTO Shawn Vo and I had been friends for 16 years before we founded Denim. We used to travel up and down the east coast to visit each other all the time and became fascinated with how the economy moves people and goods. While passenger transportation saw a lot of innovation, we quickly learned that few people were talking about freight transportation. We witnessed a significant gap in the freight broker market, where legacy systems (ie, paper checks, physical filing) were still in place, and developed an intuitive payments technology to help streamline broker operations and attract the best carrier relationships through the platform.
What does Denim do?
Denim is a financial enablement platform for the logistics industry that offers an ecosystem of intelligent financing, payment, and automation tools. Our proprietary technology allows freight brokers to simplify their financing operations and easily access the working capital they need to grow. Denim automates invoicing, collections, and payments – ultimately saving clients time with an easy-to-use platform.
You have recently rebranded. What was the reason behind it?
In the last year, our company shifted from a startup to a high-growth business – we went from 30 employees to 100 in under a year! With so many new teams onboarding, we needed to evaluate our brand and roadmap to ensure everyone was rowing in the same direction. Plus, our growth ambitions go beyond just the trucking portion of global freight, and so we needed a name that would transcend the niche.
What is most important for you in the new brand name you look to establish?
We had many criteria when selecting a new brand name, but the three primary factors were: short, one-word name that exemplified our values, unique in the industry, and growth potential.
If you look at the most iconic brands, they are short, one-word names – Google, Amazon, Apple. One-word brand names are proven to be sticky and memorable for consumers. With our aspirations serving the logistics and freight industry beyond a payment processor, we wanted to ensure our name was not tied to a suffix describing our service. Instead, we focused on developing a name and securing a single word domain that we could grow with, knowing it embodies our core values and goals.
As a high-growth business, word of mouth is important to our business strategy. There are several “Axles” in the industry, which led to a lot of confusion for customers and at industry events.
We wanted a name that was unique to us but still resonated with the industry. With Denim, we’re able to build a brand that represents our suite of services now, as well as an expanded future.Bharath Krishnamoorthy, CEO and Co-Founder of Denim
Denim not only embodies our core values like tenacity and transparency, but serves as a strong foundation for speaking to our expanding suite of services, features, and tools for freight brokers and stakeholders throughout the entire supply chain.
What domain name did you choose for Denim? What is your experience with it?
It was important for us to have the top level domain (TLD) for our brand strategy, so we secured Denim.com. Our experience has been incredible. It may seem trivial, but people take you a lot more seriously when you have a clean, one word .com domain with no prefixes or suffixes.Bharath Krishnamoorthy, CEO and Co-Founder of Denim
What is your biggest challenge with this business? Have you overcome it, and how?
As Denim’s customer base grew, our operations team faced a time-efficiency challenge. The operations team spent 30% of its time individually putting thousands of invoices through a rigorous risk management process. While tedious, this work is essential to maintaining the appropriate levels of risk. However, the time spent by the team led to slower process times for customers and lower team morale working on mundane tasks.
In order to continue to scale, the operations and engineering teams collaborated to find ways to automate the process without compromising its integrity. The engineering team created a custom tool for the operations team that turned their know-how into code. The automation mimics the well-honed processes of our factoring operations team by measuring and managing risk of each purchase and then automates select steps.
As a result, the operations team reduced the average time to fund a client to less than 24 hours. They now spend less of their time on tedious tasks, ultimately benefiting the company and customers by increasing their value and engagement.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business when it comes to naming their brand?
When we originally named our company, we jokingly named it after a client because it happened to fit the company at the time. Recommendation: don’t do this.
For new entrepreneurs going through the naming process, align with your team or co-founder on specific criteria and keep an open mind.
Since our business is conducted online, we only considered brand names that had an available matching domain. Consistency is key for memorability, so I highly recommend searching for either your domain name or social handles while simultaneously reviewing brand names.Bharath Krishnamoorthy, CEO and Co-Founder of Denim
Additionally, evaluate whether a name has longevity. Can the name grow beyond your current product set? Does it make sense in other countries? These are important factors to consider as rebranding multiple times can be damaging to a company.
What do you know about premium domains, and what do you feel is their role in building successful brands?
Establishing a credible online presence is a critical step toward building a brand, and it all starts with a domain name. Premium domain names are especially valuable for companies that conduct their business online as they are short, easy to remember, and brandable.
Domain names are our brand addresses on the web – you can either be on FM1928 with a long domain name or on main street with a short, easy-to-remember premium domain name. Premium domain names lend themselves to strong brand recall which translates into more traffic to your website. Additionally, premium domains create a sense of credibility and prestige like a storefront on main street. If you get stuck with a URL that looks like clickbait or it belongs on a remote farm-to-market road, potential customers may be skeptical of your business.
Establishing a credible online presence is a critical step toward building a brand, and it all starts with a domain name.Bharath Krishnamoorthy, CEO and Co-Founder of Denim
What is next for Denim?
We are laser focused on product expansion and continuing the momentum from our rebrand and funding announcement.
We are investing in our technology to fulfill our company’s mission to advance the supply chain by accelerating the movement of money and data. Our teams are developing several platform improvements and features to help all parties along the supply chain complete payments and understand their business data. With our new brand name we will be attending industry events like FreightWaves F3 conference and Manifest next year.
Last thing, if some of our readers have more questions, where can they reach you online?
You can reach me on LinkedIn. Or to learn more about our platform, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does your brand name match your company vision? What new horizons can a better name open? Get in touch if you feel your brand deserves a better name, we are always happy to help.
Bharath Krishnamoorthy branding business domain domain name domains interview naming rebrand