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Photo by Cyprian Szalankiewicz, Startup Canada

Last month a few members of the CIRA team spent the day with nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs at the Startup Canada #everyentrepreneur tour in Toronto. This was a great opportunity for CIRA to meet face-to-face with the founders and teams building new businesses on .CA domains. Our goal was to better understand their questions and concerns and help out in any way we could. The event was well-attended and the group was diverse in their concerns.

Here's some of what we heard: 

Startup leaders care about what their domain name says about their business

The process of naming their company is exceptionally important to founders, and a domain is a big part of making this choice. Finding an available name that resonates with your audience and is easy to remember are key considerations. The availability of .CA, .co or .io domain names is of significant interest to founders. Interesting and memorable names might not be available on .com domains, but there are plenty of other options. 

The solution for many founders will be to manage a portfolio of domains 

We found most founders had a degree of confusion around what to do with new TLDs. Many folks had questions about what domains they should register and what online properties would have the most value. In the end, the best solution for your company might not be just one domain, but rather a portfolio of online properties that re-direct to a main site or online store. 

Thinking about growth demands a different online strategy – geography and scale affect domain choice

Most founders we met at Startup Canada's event were looking to grow and scale.  For some this means creating solutions for a pan-Canadian audience and for others it means U.S. or global expansion. Whatever your growth plans, it's important to design a domain portfolio that can scale with your business. This means understanding the requirements for registering domains in various markets (in some cases you may need to be incorporated in the relevant territory) and finding a domain that can meet your long-term needs. 

E-commerce is at the core of many business models 

There was a consensus among most of the entrepreneurs we spoke with that some part of their business would take place online. Even traditionally offline companies or traditional retail operations were looking for ways to create a footprint in e-commerce or find new means of interacting with their customers online. 

Getting online can still be a challenge

There are some entrepreneurs who have taken the step of registering a domain name and are looking to learn more about how to get their business online. It's important that founders understand the many ways they can interact with their customers online, from Squarespace or Go Daddy's website builders, to simply re-directing a domain to an active social media page or profile. For some startups with more complex online communities and business models, there might be a need to scale a web presence by working with a design firm or web development consultant. 

Overall, it's an exciting time to be building a company in Canada. The Startup Canada community is a diverse and exciting group and it was great to hear more about the challenges that founders and startup marketers have in getting online. We're glad many of these folks are seeing value in the .CA domain.