David Aronchick has one piece of advice for entrepreneurs when considering a new business moniker: “don’t name a company around a stupid pun that you come up with while joking around with your buddies.” That’s what led to Entertonement, the Internet startup which Aronchick started three years ago with venture capitalist Fouad ElNaggar. Entertonement never quite worked as a name. People struggled to say it, and spell it.
But Aronchick, a former Microsoftie, is hoping that the second time is the charm. And that’s why he’s so excited about Hark, a punchy, 4-letter name that the company adopted at the beginning of the year. Aronchick declined to say how much they paid for the domain name, but he said the switch has already paid dividends.
“It was worth every penny to make sure our users can now find our content more easily than ever before. It hurt for a few weeks while we were re-indexed by Google … but we’ve come out of the switch stronger than ever,” he said.
The name change actually was part of a larger overhaul of the business, which has built a massive collection of audio clips. (Think about it as a YouTube for audio — movie clips, famous speeches, college fight songs, etc.).
At the end of 2010, the company decided to do a massive overhaul of the site’s back-end infrastructure in order to handle the traffic loads it was experiencing.
“Our mission has always been simple: delight our customers. A big part of the delight equation is ease of use and site speed and unfortunately, we weren’t delivering that to our users,” explained Aronchick. “With our recent changes, we have really improved the performance and layout of our product which has translated to a 50 percent increase in engagement over the last three months.”
During the month of February, Hark attracted more than 14 million visitors who played more than 1o pieces of content each second. That’s up more than three times the levels of last year.
The change on the back-end and in the design also helped the company save money, since Aronchick points out that streaming more than 50 million sound clips per month “ain’t cheap.”
The name change played into that in part because consumers were using the site in different ways than the company initially anticipated, uploading images as well as audio clips. And people were uploading all sorts of content related to various topics — business, politics, sports and religion.
“Everyone has their own use case, and, as a great user-generated content and social platform, we want to enable it all,” he said.
By the way, here’s Aronchick’s favorite audio clip: