What’s in a Name?
I don’t mean to narrow my audience too much when I ask if you’ve ever had the pleasure of choosing a name for your child.
If you have, you’ll remember the mountain of stress that comes with writing that final decision on the government form that will (ideally) identify them for the rest of their existence. I say this as a father of two who, along with my partner, had not named Baby Sartee #1 until about a week before the Canadian Government felt it was prudent to start assessing fines to get things moving along. We finally settled on names that we loved, but not without countless lists, late nights scrolling and discussions about the degree to which we’d be screwing them over with our proposed new-age choices.
Sarti, milliseconds before his car launches over the guardrail into a firey ball of flames. Fitting somehow?
Now I really don’t like it when people compare companies to people and draw comparisons between starting a company to birthing and raising a new child, but I do have to say that as far as choosing a name goes, the process was 99% similar. Pick a name that gives you a blank slate, has no preconceived notions, isn’t hard to spell, hasn’t been used before, has no missing vwls, has a unique URL, and says something about your brand. I probably spent more time on this that both Maeve and Sawyer’s names combined. Ironically enough, my business partner’s suggestion at the very beginning of the process ended up making the final cut…
Sartée Bikes Inc.
Pretentious, egotistical and unique, right?
I stayed away from the nuclear option as long as I possibly could. I tried so many ways to pick something with more levity, more personality, more not-my-exact-name-ness. Even Mike Radenbaugh didn’t call his company Radenbaugh Power Bikes. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me (or the better I was able to rationalize it). My father chose the name Sartee when he was a teenager, hoping to distance himself from a family that did not treat him kindly. He spelled it differently than most anyone had before, but modelled it as a mashup of sorts between the French nihilist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean-Pierre Sarti, the fictional F1 driver from the 1966 film Grand Prix, who flies into a barrier at 190mph, crashing and burning into a ball of flames. Great inspiration for a bike company eh?
Anyway, I figured it wasn’t as much me choosing the company name as it was my father, so if you like it, great, let him know! If you don’t, well, sorry, he isn’t so good with the email.
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1. The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something
2. A distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something
Most of the time, I think companies use the first definition. I mean, who wouldn’t want a high degree of excellence in the things they buy and use? I love that definition for it’s versatility but it’s just so damn vague.
The ebike boom is in full swing but we haven’t yet had to reckon with the long-term impacts of our purchases and the waste that comes with it. We are learning this lesson as a business at the perfect moment, at a time where we are making key decisions about who to do business with and what to offer our customers. We want to do the least possible harm in bringing electric transportation to our customers.
About a week ago I found out that the company I am working for is closing its doors in less than a month. This was an unexpected wake up call and a first for me. I’ve spent lots of days at my desk thinking about leaving a job, but this is the first time the job has left me, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a relief.