This week, Saw.com Domain Consultant and Branding Agent, Brooke Hernandez sat down with the VP of Marketing at Kevel, Chris Shuptrine. The two discussed the background of Kevel, the challenges of rebranding their company and their experience with Saw.com.
We would like to congratulate Kevel on acquiring the domain Kevel.com for their business. Thank you for allowing us to help you be seen online. We wish you good luck in all your future endeavors! For more information on Kevel, visit their website and follow them on all social media platforms.
Watch the full interview on our Youtube channel and read along with our transcript below.
[Brooke] Hi. I’m Brooke with Saw.com and today I have Chris Shuptrine, VP of Marketing with Kevel. Chris, thank you for joining!
[Chris] Thank you for having me Brooke.
Who is your company? What do you provide as a service?
[Chris] We are Kevel, we offer software that makes it easier for brands and apps to build custom, user friendly, private ad platforms to monetize their site and apps. Lots of big words there, but when you think of a company like Facebook. You are scrolling through the feed, and love them or hate them, but there are the promoted posts that are within that feed. Those are what we call Native-Ads, they are there but they aren’t like pop-ups, they do not slow down the page, they are relevant to your interests. Additionally, you are not going to see Malware or spam. Facebook makes many many millions of dollars from that ad platform, and it took them years to build and hundreds of engineers. What we want to do is democratize that advertising tech.
With our tools you can take something like Facebook. But, instead of years and fifty engineers, you can use two engineers and a couple of weeks and build a minimum viable product that is similar and that you can launch.
We work with a lot of marketplaces too to not promote posts, but similar to Amazon’s sponsored products. For example, where you search for a hat and the first three results are sponsored hats. Those ads drive 10% of their GMV right now. So, they make a substantial amount of money from their ad platform.
At Kevel, we talk to retail and marketplaces and say, see the success Amazon has from their ad products? What about building that and doing it easily with our infrastructure tools?
What are the factors that you want to portray to your potential customer’s, with regard to your brand identity online?
[Chris] We are an interesting product. We appeal to both the revenue and exec side and to the technical side. By that I mean, creating an ad platform is effectively a revenue idea, generating opportunity. So that is going to stem from the people who are growing the company, that could be the head of product or revenue. But then the actual implementation of the product is through API’s and tech software. We are very much a backend infrastructure tool, so you cannot just drop us into your sites and suddenly it works. But, that is our selling point! By being more of a backend tool, there are more security benefits, faster and gives you the opportunity to create more native ad placements.
When did your company first conceptualize this brand? My understanding was before the company was under a different name.
[Chris] Yes, it was called Adzerc. We were founded in 2010 by our CEO, James Avery, at the time we were more of a traditional ad tech platform. As we evolved and we pivoted to being more of an API solution, we realized the name Adzerc was not the best name suited for the company. We rebranded in December and because Kevel.com was not available, we went with Kevel.co.
What was the process you took as a company to pick the name as well as the domain name?
[Chris] We worked with a brand called Lexicon Branding, we went through a couple rounds of keywords and company name ideas. Kevel was one of them. We liked it a lot. What spoke to us was that it was so unique, it’s not a name that is heard often. However, it is also not a made up word, if you are familiar with boating, kevel is the cleat that is attached to a dock that you would tie to your boat to keep it moored.
It ticked off a lot of boxes of what an ideal domain name would be; five-six letters, symmetry in the name, easy to pronounce, easy to spell. With Adzerc, some people would capitilize the “z” and some wouldn’t, so it lead to confused branding. With Kevel it is not a problem, its easy to pronounce, snappy and memorable.
The biggest issue was that Kevel.com was already taken. So we found the .co and moved forward with that.
[Brooke] One of the recommendations in the domain industry is that if you are going with a brand, you need to make sure that customers are going to be able to say it and spell it. Even if they have never heard of the word. Kevel is short, snappy, strong and easy to remember.
Playing off that, what advice would you give to a startup, or even an established company, looking to acquire their brand fitting domain?
[Chris] Naming is hard, if you have the budget to work with a third party professional, highly recommend it. Working with an outside eye was so helpful. Internally, it is very easy to be caught on being overly descriptive with the domain name. Working with an outside help to bring in new words and brandable names that evoke an emotion- not always product related.
We did not let the lack of a .com stop us from going forward with the domain. It was not necessarily ideal, but we still launched with it and I tried to reach out to the owners of Kevel.com. The advice I would give is if someone is to hire a professional. We went to Saw.com to see if there was an opportunity to work with professionals to acquire Kevel.com. Why? Because we saw value in the .com.
With companies there are always interesting highlights of something that was supposed to go one way but went another. Do you have any interesting stories?
[Chris] A while ago, one of our customers was Reddit, we were powering some ads on their site. Our CEO was randomly in their office doing a visit when they invited him into their product meeting. They were discussing difficulties with getting out this native promoted Reddit post of theirs. James Avery, our CEO, was like “Yes, we can do that!” Perhaps it was not fully built yet, but he went back to the office and we figured out how to make it happen. It was a good thing he was in that meeting, because it changed the course of the company. We started to build more backend software to allow for user friendly, privacy driven, integrative ad units that we were not doing before.
Would you recommend Saw.com to other companies to assist in domain acquisition?
[Chris] 100%. We tried and failed to acquire Kevel.com. Saw.com did not fail. You were great to work with, the start to finish was a month. You were fast, you acquired it and at a price we were looking for.
[Brooke] Wonderful, it was a pleasure of course. I wish Kevel good luck, we will be watching you guys expand and continuing on your success. Thank you so much for being here, I wish you the best!
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