Creating a Company Logo

A couple of months ago, just after I had finalized the company name, I thought about creating a logo. I would need one eventually for things such as social media, business cards, and of course the website. I could try to create one myself or find someone I know who makes them.

It was around that time that I had started listening to a number of podcasts. I had recently gotten the iPhone 7, having switched from the Galaxy Note 4, and found the wonder of podcasts again. I had used to listen to them occasionally a number of years ago but had since stopped.

I searched for any podcasts that had to do with startups, entrepreneurship or small businesses. I found a number of them and started listening to see which ones I would like. They included: Mixergy, The Small Business Show, Foundr Magazine Podcast, This Week in Startups, Lean Startup and the No Sleep Startup (if you have more suggestions or comments on any of these I’d love to hear).

I’m not going to get into any of the specifics of these podcasts at this point (maybe later) but what is pertinent to this post is that while listening to an interview on Mixergy I heard about one of their sponsors, Design Crowd (you can save $100 with this link thanks to Mixergy).


The way the sponsors are introduced is not by commercials, but by the host of the show talking about his experience working with that product or company, otherwise known as a testimonial. Its a much more effective way to promote a product or service and seems to be rather common in the world of podcasts. In this case the description of DesignCrowd seemed good and was what I was looking for, so I took a deeper look.

The way it works is after you create an account you create a project or “brief” and specify what it is you want. You need to describe the business or whatever it is you need a logo for so that the designers have something to go on. You can give them your ideas, any sketches you have made, or anything else that might help them design the perfect logo for you. Then the contest to see who can make the best design for you begins.

Within a day I started to get a few, but not all that many. One thing that turned out to be important was that I hadn’t committed to paying anything, and the designers knew it. While the contest was going on I eventually made a commitment to pick a winner and pay them. Suddenly I was getting entries from all over the world: South Africa, Philippines, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Peru, Serbia, Brazil, Pakistan, Australia, Indonesia, Belgium, Paraguay, Vietnam, Malaysia, Austria, UK, US, Netherlands, Kenya, Cameroon, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Germany, Sweden, Argentina and India.

The vast majority of them were good, some very good. I could tell that a number of them were designs that they had come up with previously and just changed it to my company name. They were good, but not what I had asked for. Some got very creative and were definitely trying for what I asked for, but had gone off on tangents that I didn’t care for.

I received 183 designs over the course of the contest. Many of those were the exact same design from the same designer, just displayed on different surfaces, or using different color schemes. Frequently the designers would send me a message within the app asking for comments or input. It was a way for them to get noticed.

I eventually went with ironically the very first design I received, before I had committed to paying. It was from prodesigns99 in India. I really loved their concept and it was completely unique among the 183 entries. Before the contest was over I asked them to make a number of small refinements to get it just right and it worked out really well.

So here is the final logo I selected from the contest. I think this is also the first time I have revealed the name of the business on this blog as well, Parandama, LLC.


The word “parandama” is an Estonian word that means “improve” (and also “repair”, but I like improve better). My father is from Estonia so I liked taking a word from his birth language. I found out later Parandama is also a Hindu boy’s name that means Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu means, from one source I found, “all pervasive.” I think that can apply to the site as well, so I found meaning with the name from two sources.

This is where the tag line “Improve Yourself” comes from, and actually it is a shortened version of the full tagline I intend to use, “Improve yourself and someone you care about.”

The idea behind the logo is somewhat obvious. Your path is up the stairs to a door that leads to better things. The colors of the stairs and the door make up the colors of the visible spectrum, and the white inside the door is what happens when all of the colors blend together. The site will provide many different means of improving yourself as well as helping you help others. More on that to come.

I would definitely recommend DesignCrowd. I had a great experience and got a great logo out of it.


Deciding on a Company Name


So far this has been absolutely the hardest thing I have done for this new business. I spent countless hours over months trying to come up with a name. I’m happy with my final choice but I could have done without the pain of finding it.

Domain Name

Since this is going to at least initially be an online business one of the most important aspects of the company name is can I get the right domain name for the website. In case you don’t know, the domain name is the “”. There can be only one site using “” and it is owned by Google (or maybe their parent company Alphabet). So you can’t use it. You must find your own.

When are you ready to start checking names, find a site where you can see if your name is available. Two sites that I use for checking are and, but there are plenty of others out there in the series of tubes.

State Laws

There are also laws prohibiting you from using the same name as an existing company in the state where you create the business. You might find that your name is unique to your state, but it might exist in another state and then they might have the domain name you want, or something very close to it that would confuse potential customers. Forgetting about the domain name, if both of your companies are national you will no doubt have conflicts. Make sure your name is unique.

When you have a name picked out, check with your state government to see if your name is available. It most likely will be your state’s Secretary of State’s office or web site where this can be found. You should be able to do it online, though likely for a small fee. When you’re ready to formalize your company name you’ll have to do it here anyway so you might as well get to know their site.

Finding a Name

Before you even try to figure out the right name to call your business you are limited to what it can be. Don’t fret. The 26 letters of the English alphabet can still be formed into all kinds of interesting names. You just have to work a bit harder to find the right combination of letters.

Descriptive vs. Implicative

In my mind there were two main types of names: descriptive (like or implicative (like


A descriptive name tells you exactly what you will find on the site. When you go to you won’t find the latest film releases or stock prices (unless they have branched out and I don’t know about it). You will find the weather. The name tells you what they do.


An implicative name doesn’t lend itself immediately to what it is, but gives you an overall feeling of what to expect there. With the example of, I see dual meaning. There is the obvious “A -> Z” that they make clear in their logo above, meaning that you you will find everything from A to Z on their site. But there is also the word itself, Amazon, which makes you think of the Amazon rainforest. That area, according to Wikipedia, “comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world”.  So if you want to find a type of living thing, odds are you’ll find it there. So, like the rainforest, if you are looking for something to buy, odds are you’ll find it at

Get to Know Your Competitors

You absolutely MUST get to know who your competitors are before you start your business. At this point though you need to know them to avoid similar names. Keep a list of them handy as you go through the process to make sure you avoid them or anything like them. Jot down the domain names they use too.

Naming Process

Come up with a process that feels right for you. Try brainstorming names and write them all down. Try descriptive ones first as they would be easiest and move to the implicative names if you want.

When you have some that you think aren’t too bad then first look up possible domain names. The domain name doesn’t have to be exactly the company name but it is good for it to be very close. Keep a record of what is available and what is taken. Put some thought into what suffix you want to use as well (that is what I call the “.com” or .org”, what it really is is the top level domain). When you pick one it is a good idea to go ahead and buy the other top level domains as well to protect your name so others can’t come up with sites with your name and steal your traffic. This means if you pick a domain name of “” then you should also buy “”, “”, etc.

When you have a name and a domain name set then check with your state (the state where you intend to form the business). If it is available then you are good to go! If not, start over.

Final Thoughts

I thought I had a name at least three times before I finally picked the one I have gone with. Just remember to be sure about your name before you open for business. It is a lot easier to change the name before than it is after. After you open if you change your name you lose your name recognition and have to possibly pay for a lot of renaming costs. Be sure before you go live.

Good luck and happy naming!

OSCON Austin 2017 – Keynotes & Sessions

Continuing my previous post from Tuesday, the last two days of the conference were keynote speeches and talk sessions. I am not going to discuss every session I attended as there were many, I’ll just hit the ones that were the most interesting for me.

To give you an idea of how many sessions there were, look at the image below. Every hour there were 14 different sessions to choose from! And of course as you would know it, the ones I really wanted to attend most were all at the same times and my current employer didn’t pony up the big bucks to get me access to videos of all of the sessions, so I was forced to choose.

Wed Sched

14 Different Choices Every Hour


So the beginning of days 3 and 4 were keynote addresses, 6 on Wednesday and 4 more on Thursday. Unfortunately O’Reilly only posted excerpts for most of the keynotes on their YouTube channel. To see the whole videos you need a Safari subscription. I’ll include the ones with the full videos below.

Christopher Aedo from IBM discussed open infrastructures and defaced numerous classic paintings.

Ying Xiong, the Chief Architect of the cloud platform at Huawei Technologies, spoke about the open source ecosystem. This was very interesting to get a different point of view from China.

Finally I hate to include this one but I will anyway since the whole video is there and there is some useful information in it. Alvand Salehi, a Senior Technology Advisor at The White House, discussed open source from the U.S. Government, even some code from the Pentagon.

So that aspect was interesting. It was just unfortunate that I felt like I was buying a used car.


There’s nothing like the Family Truckster


Over the 2 days I attended 12 sessions, and there were 3 that stood out:

“From REST to GraphQL: Why a query language is perfect for writing APIs”

I could really beat myself with a wet virtual network cable. I got to this one late. It was the first one after the keynotes and I spent some time in the Expo Hall and lost track of time. The room was packed except for some seats up front (I don’t see why 50 people or more were just standing up in the back when there were seats up front). It was hard to see the screen but it was well worth it.


The session was taught by David Celis and Garen Torikian of GitHub. They tag teamed the story of a fictional company called Welp and their need to develop a REST API. After documenting the inherent problems of REST they decided that they needed to use GraphQL instead! What followed was a really good live demo along with tons of great details.

I know that when I get to the point of building out my API I will be spending a ton of time going through their slides and examples. Really great stuff. Thanks guys!!

Slides (with notes!): From REST to GraphQL

UPDATE: They provided the video to their session! Now I can see what I missed and everything else as well!

“The serverless revolution for JavaScript developers”

This presentation by Pam Selle (and her blog), a software engineering lead at IOPipe, didn’t have much new for me that I hadn’t already heard at ServerlessConf or earlier at OSCON, but it was by far the best talk to describe and detail what serverless is and what the different options are if you want to go down this road.

If you aren’t really sure what this thing called serverless really is, go through her slides. I wish her presentation video were available as well because that makes it so much more clear. Definitely a good read and a good resource. Thanks!

Slides: The serverless revolution for JavaScript developers Presentation

UPDATE: Pam provided the video to her session!! Thank you!!

“Graph databases will change your freakin’ life”

This was an excellent talk on Graph databases bu Ed Finkler, the CTO at Graph Story. After attending that workshop by William Lyon two days earlier my interest was intense and this talk didn’t disappoint. One thing that does disappoint is that his slides were not posted afterwards 🙁 (By the way, most of the slides to the talks can be found here).

UPDATE: He provided the slides!! Also, I found a video of him making a similar (or possibly the same) presentation previously and here is the video (embedding is turned off).

His talk covered a lot of the same material that the workshop did, but that only served to deepen my understanding of it. Plus seeing how someone else used Cypher and Neo4J really helped my understanding.

Definitely check out his non-profit organization called OSMI which stands for Open Sourcing Mental Illness. Ed is doing some excellent work. Give what you can to help. I did!

Also, he has provided an example repo in Github called 2016 OSMI Survey Graph. Check it out! I plan to.

OSCON Austin 2017 – Workshops

Recently I posted about my experience attending the Serverless Conference in Austin at the end of April. Two weeks later I attend OSCON in Austin as well. OSCON stands for Open Source CONvention and is put on by O’Reilly.


Got there early, waiting for the keynotes to begin.

The convention was held over 4 days. The first two days were workshops, 2 a day. The last two days were a combination of keynotes and hour long talks. I really would have preferred that the workshops came at the end instead of the beginning, but this was just as good I guess.

Given the vast amount of information I received over these 4 days I’ll split this into two posts, this one will be on the 2 days of workshops, followed by one post on the 2 days of keynotes and talks.

Day 1

Workshop 1:Building, deploying, and running a scalable and extensible serverless application using AWS

The workshop was taught by the two founders of Symphonia, an expert Serverless and Cloud technology consultancy based in New York City (Make sure to get their free e-book “What is Serverless?” available on their website now). John Chapin and Mike Roberts tag teamed the workshop to great success, leading us through a lesson on what exactly serverless is, talking about AWS, Lambda and Java, and then finally taking us through a tutorial.


They planned their course well as we learned a great deal without feeling overwhelmed (at least I didn’t). Having already attended workshops and sessions at the Serverless conference two weeks prior probably helped me a great deal in understanding.

One way this workshop was different though is that the code was all in Java and used Maven. The workshop I attended at the Serverless Conference used NodeJS and npm. I spent 8 years as a Java developer, I even taught Java at the college level a couple of semesters way back right after I finished Grad School in 2000. It all felt very familiar which was wonderful.

I had a chance to talk with John Chapin briefly at both conferences. I didn’t get to talk with Mike Roberts but I did get to see him speak at the Serverless Conference. They are both very knowledgeable and easy to talk with.

I look forward to contacting them for advice and guidance as my business develops. Thanks for a great workshop!

Reference Material:

Workshop 2: “Building a deployment pipeline with Jenkins 2.0”

This workshop was on a topic I felt I should know or at least be exposed to more, mainly for my current full-time job that pays the bills, and possibly for myself down the line. The workshop was taught by Brent Laster who was obviously well versed on the subject.


Sitting a little too close!

Unlike the previous workshop, this felt like a double-barreled fire hose. We went through topics and exercises quickly and I was doing what I could to keep up. When I get into that mode I am happy when I complete the tasks and keep up, but I really don’t learn anything along the way.

After a bit he said that he designed this course to have as much information as possible so we can learn it afterwards on our own time and have a lot of reference material. While that is nice to have after the workshop, during it I felt I was getting very little out of it. I would have rather gone at a slower pace during the class and had more time to digest so I would retain more. Now I just have a bad taste in my mouth about it and will only go back to the reference material when I need to.

He did mention this book above, Continuous Delivery, as the main source of his material for the workshop. I provide a link here as a first attempt at monetizing the site a bit. 🙂 Every penny helps!

Reference Materials:

Day 2

Workshop 3: “Power Git: Rerere, bisect, subtrees, filter branch, worktrees, submodules, and more”

So my first workshop on the second day was a lot like my last one from the day before. Something I felt I should know more about though I wasn’t that excited about it. Git however is something I do use every day and maybe I could get more out of it if I get to know it better?


I picked a better seat for this one.

The workshop was taught by the same person who taught the Jenkins workshop, Brent Laster, so it was a very similar format. I’m more familiar with Git so it seemed more like a single-barreled fire hose than a double. This was also a bit more straight forward as well.

He mentioned a book where he got a lot of material for the workshop, and this time it is a book he wrote himself!

Work through the labs if you want to learn more about some higher level functions of git. I don’t ever need them with the work I do, but it’s nice to be a little familiar with them and to be able to quickly look up what I need.

Reference Materials:

Workshop 4: Building a real-time recommendation engine with Neo4j

My final workshop was my biggest surprise. I knew what I was getting with the first one and was excited about it, the next two were all about acquiring necessary knowledge, but the last was just something that I thought might be interesting.

I honestly hadn’t thought about it much going into it. I got what I was looking for with the first workshop and felt numb after the next two, so when I walked in to this one I had a blank slate. No expectations.


Sat way too far away for this one!

The workshop was taught by William Lyon from Neo4J. We first got into what the Graph Database Model is and how it differs from relational databases. The idea of nodes and relationships instead of tables and rows really fascinated me. The more we learned the more powerful I realized this format was.

Then we started to get into the query language for Neo4J called Cypher. This took a while to get used to. I have spent a lot of time writing SQL queries over the years, but Cypher takes a shift in thinking. By the end I felt I was really starting to catch on.

He pulled data from the site for the Austin area and we were able to query it. I’m a member of a few (though like an idiot I never go) so I was able to query myself.

We did all of this querying in the Neo4J sandbox which uses the Neo4J browser and it has an amazing interface. I really fell in love with using it. I want to find a use for it just so I can use it (actually I am sure I’ll have a use case for graph databases soon enough). I really look forward to going back through all of this and exploring further when I get to that point in my app development. Thanks William for a great workshop!

Reference Material:

OSCON Austin 2017 Part 2 Coming Soon….

Avoiding Distractions

Distractions are a constant problem. Especially when you are bootstrapping a startup by yourself, working a full time job, living in a house of 5 people (myself, my wife, my daughter, my Dad, and a good friend) as well as 4 dogs.

Say No To Distractions placard isolated on white background

I recently returned from LA to see family on my aunt’s 80th birthday (woo hoo!!), my daughter just finished her freshman year of high school, and my duties as a volunteer in the band booster organization for my daughter’s high school band have come to a close (for now). Paperwork for my finances has been piling up for a while (not that I haven’t been paying anything, just not filing/scanning), I am planning to start going to a gym on a regular basis to lose 30 pounds, and I still have all of the usual little daily activities that goes with being part of a family and having a house and a job.

Setting Myself Free by Scheduling

So how do I get past all of this and build a new business from scratch? I have no special knowledge of the best way to do this. I have read and listened to many different people talk about how best to do it. Some sound good, other sound idiotic and there is no way I’d ever do what they suggest.

But one thing that I know will help (not just because my wife says it will, but that does play a part 😉 ) is creating a very specific schedule and then sticking to it. Once you look at the hours you have in any given day you begin to realize how finite your time is.

So I am going to follow these steps and create my schedule:

  1. Fill out my calendar with activities/appointments I absolutely have to attend (like working my regular job, need to keep the money coming in!)
  2. List the things that I have to do on a regular basis (finances, house work, meals, walk the dogs, etc) and allot time for that in the schedule.
  3. List the things that I want to work on and achieve and place them in an order of precedence, giving them specific definitions and completed by dates.
  4. Add these things to my schedule where available trying not to overload myself and get too aggressive (I do need to sleep occasionally!).
  5. Make sure there is some free time occasionally to have a life here and there. I’d like to see my family some 🙂

Avoiding the Little Distractions – Staying Focused

There are of course tons of little distractions, and for me that is social media and news. I can very easily get caught up scrolling through my various social media accounts or reading articles in the different newspapers I subscribe to or follow. Some of this is pertinent to what I am trying to do and that is fine, but some of it is sheer escapism and just goofing off. While I do need that a little I certainly don’t need it as much as I do it!

This comes down to a matter of will. I think having a schedule will help as it will give me time constraints to get things accomplished, but otherwise I just have to make my mind up to stay focused. I have been mostly doing well at this but need to step up my game even more. Getting this done is all up to me and it won’t get done if I don’t do it.

I want this, I want this business to succeed. I just have to continue to keep that at the forefront of my thoughts, keep pushing, get organized and focused, and do it.

I’ll keep you updated on how things go!