If you're a fan of the new HBO show Silicon Valley, you're probably still chuckling about the theme of last night's episode.

To break it down: The show's protagonist, entrepreneur and programming whiz Richard, has just landed a $200,000 investment in his startup called Pied Piper. Now he just needs to secure the Pied Piper name.

Richard faced some rather hilarious obstacles in trying to keep his beloved startup name. First, there's the fact that his four employees thought naming the company after a "predatory flautist who murders children" was a terrible idea. Then, there was the salt-of-the-earth sprinkler maker who already owned the name Pied Piper and refused to give it up for less than $250K.

You'll have to watch to find out what happens, but the episode is a good reminder that naming a startup is one of the most important and difficult decisions a founder faces. A name can drive--or deter--growth. It's often the way a startup makes a first impression on customers, investors, and partners.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Does it feel good to say out loud? Inc.com's John Brandon recently wrote that founders need to consider the, well, usability of their company's name. You and your employees will be saying the name dozens, if not hundreds, of times a day to investors, customers, clients. You should make sure it's a name that's easy to say.

2. Does it have a story behind it? Brandon also points out that a startup name should be part of something bigger than the company--whether that's a personal story about the founding or an over-arching mission of the company. In other words, if you can't explain why your company is named what it is, then you have a problem.

3. Have you considered the domain name? Though there's some disagreement in the startup community as to how much a domain name matters, Inc.com's Jessica Stillman points out that you should, at the very least, be thinking of a domain. When tech darlings Dropbox and Square were founded, for example, each company had a temporary domain.

And finally, if you've already landed on a name but you regret your choice, take a note from Livestream CEO Max Haot. He describes in the video below, how his company picked the wrong name, and then had to figure out how to transition to the right one. 

Published on: Apr 21, 2014