We thought you may have spelled it wrong. Sorry about that.
So I had my first child in the summer of 2009 and my wife and I spent a non-trivial amount of time discussing names beforehand. We'd been up and down the lists of popular and unpopular, old-fashioned and trendy. I'd been given some good advice (make sure the child can put it on a resume and be taken seriously; don't eliminate a political career by making it billboard-unfriendly, etc) which produced a pretty good short list of names - only one of which was the name of a friend's dog. But that dog was dying soon so I was ok with it.
But I digress.
Names are important. Not just for babies, but for businesses. Where do businesses names come from? For some, it's a calculated process. There are focus groups, consultants, designers, etc. For others, they just feel right. At thredUP it was a bit of both.
thredUP started as "threadequity". I was in business school taking a bunch of finance and I was thinking about "shirt-shares" and partial ownership and a play on the term "sharing." I bought the domain, put it on a few slides. It sucked. I played with a few versions: threadshare(s), shirtshare(s), and threadsy (now a growing, totally unrelated company).
Then, really liking "thread", Oliver and I started thinking hard about building a brand. We wanted to be like Digg, like Tivo, like Zipcar. Where the brand name was association with the action. At this point, I was in Clay Christensen's Building Sustainable Enterprises class and deep into the notion of "what job does a customer hire your company to do?" So then we got to what people were feeling when they hired our company. They were feeling tired of their clothing, tired of their threads. They were actually a bit fed up with their closets. BAMM!
Like a lighting bolt we said to ourselves people should just "threadUP!". And there it was. So we went to a kiosk at HBS (the ones in Spangler) and registered the name. ERRORRRRRRRRRR. Taken. Bastards! Who could possibly have threadUP? threadUP is an obscure sewing related term about changing needles…turns out this person lives in Portugal. I just can't wait to get that letter: "we'd be happy to sell you threadUP for XXXX." Awesome.
So we agreed on the next best thing: thredUP. thredUP and not threadUP. We could live with that. And so sure it's spelled wrong. And sure the media spells it wrong. And sure people search for threadup and not thredUP. But at the end of the day, it's the name on the door and we love it.
P.S. I also should mention that we have these names, too: thredUPsucks.com, F#$kthredup.co, Ihatethredup.com, etc. Every company should have these.
- James, CEO