The Name

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Wesabe — what in the heck is that? First, I should say, naming a startup is a special form of pain that I wouldn’t inflict on anybody. I was inclined to name it Knight Industries, but my co-founder Marc didn’t think that was a very good idea (you were right Marc). After months of brainstorming I came up with Wesabe which is based on the Spanish word “tu sabes,” or “you know.” Wesabe meant “we know” and our tagline is “together we know.”

This was great until I told the name to our good friend Neil, who is grammarian in both Spanish and English, and he had this to say:

The problem with tying this name to the Spanish-language verb saber (to know) is that the verb is conjugated thusly:

yo sé (I know)
tú sabes (you know, informal)
él, ella SABE (he/she knows)
nosotros sabemos (WE know)
vosotros sabéis (you know, plural, informal— today used only in Spain)
ellos, ustedes saben (they know, or you, —plural, formal— know)

As you can see, saying “we sabe” doesn’t sound cute or street slangy in this context. I doubt that the name would even register as Spanish or Spanglish for a Spanish speaker or a speaker of both languages.

Thanks Neil, thanks a lot. Which means, nosotros sabemos it isn’t conjugated correctly. It also nicely illustrates a point that Marc and I have been making for a while — there is a lot more knowledge out there than there is in here. And if you want to know something, for example proper Spanish grammar, ask and you’ll probably get back a ton of great information.

That said, we are sticking with Wesabe — to us it sounds great and it conveys our goal to our users.

Besides together we really do know.

12 Responses to “The Name”

  1. jolly Says:

    I thought it was a derivative of that spicy stuff on the sushi…

    Or maybe you meant ‘wesave (you money)’ and mistyped! 🙂

  2. Rogers Cadenhead Says:

    Every time I see the name I think Tonto and the Lone Ranger.

  3. W.B. McNamara Says:

    Interesting — for reasons that I don’t entirely recall (probably having something to do with Google search results), I’d assumed that it had its roots in the Zulu (see http://isizulu.net/):

    wesabe [wɛˈsa:ɓe] � wa + esabe
    Imperative singular of -esaba (v/t.)
    OC: cl. 6
    fear them

    wesabe [wɛˈsa:ɓe] � wu + esabe
    Imperative singular of -esaba (v/t.)
    OC: cl. 1a, cl. 3
    fear it

    wesabe [wɛˈsa:ɓe] � u + esabe
    Subjunctive of -esaba (v/t.)
    SC: 2nd sg., cl. 3
    you fear
    it fear

    wesabe [wɛsaˈɓe] � u + esabe
    Perfect tense of -esaba (v/t.)
    SC: 2nd sg., 3rd sg., cl. 1, cl. 1a, cl. 3
    you feared
    he feared
    she feared
    it feared

  4. Jason Knight Says:

    Wasabi would have been a great name.

    Now that you mention it….of course Wesabe would make you think of “kemosabe,” and The Lone Ranger & Tonto.

    The Zulu sounds pretty aggressive — it makes me want to go back and watch the movie and see if any of them shouts “Wesabe!”

    Years back I was at startup with too much money, so we hired a naming firm to help us name our product. They came up with Red Dog. That cost, and I’m not joking, $30,000. Naming is hard, but I like the associations people have come up with for our name.

  5. Edgardo Says:

    Ehm, I’m a spanish/english speaker and I didn’t think of “wesabe” as spanglish (if such thing even exists) so your friend is correct. No spanish or bilingual speaker is gonna “get” your name unless they read this post.

    Ironically enough, as your friend pointed out “sabe” is in the third person (he/she) which ultimately means that THEY know, not you! hehe

    You might want to check this too:
    http://www.blog.gojobby.com/?p=7

    Still, if it sounds cool for you I guess your audience should get it, not that you’re is targeting latin or bilingual people anyways (if you are then some people is not gonna be as nice as your friend about the name btw)

  6. plantwater Says:

    As a bilingual Spanish/English speaker it didn’t click either, because of the 3rd person thing.

    I think of two things: Wasabi and We-Sabe where sabe means save.
    We save together. Isn’t that what it’s about? Being smarter with money? Saving more?

    One thing that is Spanish-like about it is that Spanish spellers especially kids often substitute a ‘b’ for a ‘v’.

    It’s also how We save is pronounced in my own family’s baby-kitty-talk (ok, don’t ask).

  7. Jason Knight Says:

    plantwater,

    Thanks for sharing…people love the name or hate…I hope you love it (even if it intrudes on your family’s “baby-itty-talk.”

  8. Rob & Masako Millar Says:

    When Masako and I first saw the name “Wesabe”, we laughed our heads off thinking that it was an incorrect spelling of the Japanese word “Wasabi” (yes, ‘that spicy stuff on the sushi’ that Jolly mentioned above.)

    Given the popularity of sushi, I guess many will make the same mistake…

    But who cares! We love the product, and that’s what counts.

    Arigato!

  9. Patrick Says:

    Just so you know, I came to the right conclusion: that knowing your financial information intimately is the goal and success of wesabe.com. It had the added benefit of being cute and bringing to mind the spicy Japanese horseradish paste we all know and love!

    I suspect that being a gringo and growing up in Texas with our own brand of Spanglish had something to do with my immediate understanding of the name.

    Thanks for a wonderful website.

  10. Google Money Says:

    Thanks for the great information. I will definitely be coming back.

  11. How to Get Six Pack Fast Says:

    My friend on Orkut shared this link and I’m not dissapointed at all that I came to your blog.

  12. The Power Of Your Two Cents « Wesabe: Your Money. Your Community. Says:

    […] list of ways you can use social websites to enrich your and others’ lives. Wesabe, spanglish for “together we know,” stems from the concept that collective intelligence has the power to make people far better […]

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