Working on a startup is a negotiation between intuition and requirements. I’ll try to illuminate the process of crafting Bindle and share, what has been, a largely introspective journey thus far.


Bindle is a way to make a list of your favorite products. Tom did a great job representing the raison d’etre of which I’ve pulled an excerpt:

When I make a Bindle, I am giving context to the decisions I’ve made. A more effective way doesn’t exist to represent myself as a discerning consumer…We see Bindle as a small, but important component in the movement towards better buying decisions.

The question of why plays an essential role in finding the right name.

The Name Game

Figuring out what to call ourselves turned out to be one of the greatest hurdles of the project. It’s not without reason that companies have spent big to acquire good names. Not only does a name persist for the life of the brand (and beyond), it sets the tone for a user’s opinion of the product from the outset.

A name anchors the rhetoric and visual treatment of a product. It’s surprising to me that the act of choosing such an important component of a startup—-the cornerstone of the brand—-isn’t discussed more.

Naming Bindle

Names don’t appear out of thin air, there is a conscious effort to coax them into existence. It was necessary for us to find a name that we could conceptually relate to [and easily spell]. So to begin a dialog, here is an example of our unscientific process:

Our product helps you determine what things are right for you.

  1. We initially examined adding adjectives to singular objects, but ran into a dead end.Findings: goodthings, liferproducts, favoriteitems, etc.
  2. We then ventured to allow our favorite activities: camping, cycling, running, and climbing to inspire naming. These activities require specialized equipment – a kit.Findings: essentialkit, bestkit, gearbag, partsbin, etc.
  3. We were pretty enthused at the chance to use familiar vernacular so we looked at the container that holds the gear:Findings: backpack, trunk, suitcase, chest, bin, box, etc.
The Container, not the Contents

At this point we discovered a conceptual entry point that might stick. Rather than the gear itself, we identified more strongly with the item that carries the gear. It remained to find a distinctive carryall that also carried the message of discerning selection. Eventually, after searching for the right word, we stumbled (via google images) on the depiction of a hobo; a 20th century nomad with a stick & satchel.

Bindle is a term used to describe the bag, sack, or carrying device stereotypically used by the commonly American sub-culture of hobos. The person carrying a bindle was called a bindlestiff, combining bindle with the Average Joe sense of stiff. Wikipedia

Bindle is the material icon of the free spirit as glamorized by mid-20th century cinema. What better example of a bag containing only the essentials, the irreplaceables, than a bag you carry across the country on your back?

Our project is about owning less but better things. I think it fits.

Dominic H. Nguyen

The co-creator of Bindle and a devotee to the design craft. I do my best to lead a minimalist material life - I want to own less but better things.

See all Dominic H. Nguyen's posts

One Response to “How we came to name our startup after a hobo”

  1. Grills says:

    What a great blog

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