PadPiper helps renters find monthly housing and compatible housemates. Moving to a new place for just a few months can be difficult and lonely. PadPiper enables renters to browse furnished rentals, find housemates with similar interests and lifestyles, choose beds, and split deposit and rent payments. Jack Forbes, co-founder and CEO at PadPiper, talks with us what was the source of inspiration for the name PadPiper, how did he get the domain PadPiper.com and why having an online presence is essential for their brand.
Jack, before talking about PadPiper, could you tell us about yourself, who is Jack Forbes?
I was born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, until I moved to Bainbridge Island (next to Seattle) when I was 10. After adapting to a new country, I came back to Waterloo for University when I was 17. I have now lived about half my life in Canada and half my life in the U.S. on a green card. Immigrating isn’t easy. I didn’t truly understand that until reflecting back on my childhood. Even coming into a community that is objectively accepting, kids are still going to be kids. You naturally point out things that are different. In my case, I had a bit of a Canadian accent when I came to the US. I basically had to just switch to saying things American or else I would get caught up in every conversation having to justify my pronunciation. I definitely became way more patriotic after moving to the U.S. Everyone, when you grow up, is known for something, like the popular kid or the really athletic one or the nerdy one, I was the Canadian kid. That’s just what people knew me as. I embraced it, promoted it, and became even more patriotic because of it.
Who came up with the brand name “PadPiper”? What is the story behind the name?
“There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.”~ Phil Karlton
Naming is a fun one. We went through the same process most companies go through, in which we created a list of possible names, checked the availability/SEO of each, and discussed as a team which one we liked most. This happened early on when PadPiper was still a final year engineering project at the University of Waterloo. 3 hours into our brainstorming session, sitting in a classroom on campus, we began getting off track. We started talking about the show Silicon Valley since it was airing at the time and we all love that show. A few minutes into talking about it, my teammate at the time, Zeffrey, paused, and said: “What about PadPiper?” We all laughed and I instantly fell in love with the name. It was the only name during that entire 3-hour brainstorming session that brought me joy and felt right. There was initial disagreement amongst the team but I was decided at that point. PadPiper it would be.
Did you start off with the PadPiper.com domain, or was it an upgrade from a previous name?
During our naming brainstorming session, we had three criteria. 1) Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO), 2) Passes the radio test (if someone said over the radio could you spell it), and 3) Cheap.
Domains that are taken sell for way too much. Even the random ones you wouldn’t think people want. So, we decided we’d choose one that hadn’t been taken yet. PadPiper.com was the very first domain we got on July 26, 2015. We’ve since bought a few more: PadPiper.net, PadPiper.org, and PadPiper.design to help protect the brand. We hope to use each domain for their specific use cases later on. When PadPiper grows to have a non-profit sector, for example, we can use .org for those initiatives.
What was the problem you were having before acquiring your perfect domain name PadPiper.com and how did the new domain solve it?
Since PadPiper.com was the first domain we acquired, we thankfully didn’t have problems beforehand. We were well aware of the problems most companies have with domains which is why we did our homework before choosing. We made sure it had good SEO, was easy to spell, and even related to housing so you could get an idea as to what we’re about just from the name. The fact that it made many people happy just hearing it was an added bonus!
What was the best and worst part about the process of acquiring the domain PadPiper.com?
The best part about acquiring PadPiper.com was seeing that it was available after anxiously checking. I knew it was the name I wanted to go with as soon as I heard it so my heart was racing as I checked the availability. The worst part was deciding!
How important is the presence of your brand online? What plays the most important role in people finding you on the web?
Our online brand presence is everything. Fundamentally we are a website. Sure, there’s a lot more that goes into our company, but at this point, that is our product. Branding around that product is what defines us and sets us apart from the many websites people can try to use to find a place to live and people to live with. Our SEO plays the most important role in people finding us on the web.
Do you think you could have achieved the same level of success without owning PadPiper.com?
It’s hard to say what success we could achieve with a different name and brand. I’ve found that PadPiper has given us the benefit of the doubt with many renters that first hear about us. People tend to like you if you’re associated with something else they like. So, I would say we probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve the same success without PadPiper.com.
What branding project has challenged you the most so far in your career?
PadPiper has hands-down been the most challenging branding project of my career. I’m at least partially responsible for every single aspect of our branding. Believe it or not, PadPiper’s color pallet used to be black and yellow to match my university!
Who is your go-to person for business advice, for domain names and in general?
Helping us are too many people, tools, and services to count. We’re fortunate to have been part of the Y Combinator startup accelerator which has been an immensely helpful community. Specifically, with domains, we use Google Domains.
What’s next for PadPiper? Where do you see the company in 5 years from now?
We believe home is a combination of the place you live, the people you live with, and the adventures you have. We’re already helping people find a suitable, furnished place to live and compatible housemates to live with. The third pillar we’ll introduce in the coming years will be a way to help people meet others and experience their new locale. Moving to a new place can be difficult and lonely. We’re going to change that.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help, or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade.We are always happy to hear from you.