"Stories From The Garage" has become "Tales From The Garage." I feel like I haven't quite yet landed on the right title. Maybe "Garage Tales?" Sort of a play on "Duck Tales." Anyone feeling that?
If you missed the intro to this series, read it here.
Without further ado ...
Whenever someone would ask me how I ended up working at Boombotix, my short answer when I didn’t want to get into it was, “I met a guy at a bbq.” As I’m now in the long answer business, I’ll extend that phrase further.
I suppose it all starts with my best friend from college, Alex Kaplan. He lived one room down from me in our all-male freshman dorm that no one wanted to get assigned to.
Upon graduation, Kaplan moved to San Francisco, 232 Divisadero to be exact. As I was living in the East Bay after college, and most of the action had moved to San Francisco, I spent many a weekend afternoon hanging in Kaplan’s backyard, and many a weekend night sleeping on his couch.
During one of these backyard gatherings, there was a crew of six hanging out: Alex, two of his roommates—Flipper and Katsaros—Fresh, Katsaros’ lanky friend whose name I always forgot, and myself.
(Unnecessary side story: Kaplan was obsessed with creating as many nicknames as possible. Maybe even need an episode of season 2 of "712 Hayes" dedicated to it.
The best name he created was for his roommate, Matt Nelson. Given Matt’s last name, Horatio Nelson came to mind. Alex was and is big on random European history facts. Horatio was a hero of the Napoleonic Wars whose arm was shot off by a French cannon. Horatio referred to his stump as his flipper. And thus, Matt Nelson became Flipper.
Kaplan was also responsible for Fresh, but if we’re being honest, only Kaplan and I really called Fresh, Fresh. On the nickname rating scale, widespread adoption is a very important factor when trying to hit a high score.)
That afternoon we were playing baseball in his backyard. Not baseball, America's rapidly declining pastime, but baseball the combination of beer pong and flip cup. (You can read up on the full rules at its dedicated Wikipedia page.)
After our game of baseball, which I believe my team lost, Kaplan started up the bbq. With the grill going most of us retreated upstairs into his apartment. As after a few beers on an empty stomach I usually find myself to be quite hungry, I decided to check in on how the burgers were coming.
I found Katsaros’ lanky friend down there manning the grill. We made some banter, which in San Francisco equates to, “So what do you do for work?”
I started telling him about how I worked at a boutique branding agency, Eat My Words, that specialized in coming up with memorable names. (You can read up more about my time at Eat My Words here.) He told me that he was actually trying to come up with a name himself.
He was the COO for a portable speaker startup, Boombotix. He was in the midst of developing a new small portable speaker that took minimalistic design cues. Something that was sleek and would feel good in your hands. It was shaped hexagonally, so maybe he'd just run with Hex?
I relayed to him that by the Eat My Words rubric, Hex was a decent name. It was easy to spell, not hard to pronounce, and made you envision the shape. Maybe it wasn’t the most imaginative moniker, but it was a good place to start.
Only a month ago, Eat My Words had actually done a naming project for a new portable speaker from Logitech. I offered to pass on the names to him to see if anything caught his eye there. Plus, before he got too attached to “Hex,” it was important to run a USPTO search to see if someone else was already utilizing that name in the audio space. I offered to do the search and send him the results.
I didn’t really have any intention of trying to sell him on Eat My Word’s services. I was just happy to help him out.
I took down his email email@example.com. That’s right. Katsaros' lanky friend went by Cmac.
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On the next episode of Garage Tales ... Cmac decides to try to bring me into the fold. Read it here.
This episode was edited by Mustafa Shaikh. Blame all grammatical errors on him.
You can catch up on past writings here.