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It was mid-July 2009, in the later part of the morning, and I was spending time in the basement of one of my childhood best friends, Kegan Gilbert. We initially became friends out of proximity—he was the only friend I could walk to without having to beg one of my parents to drive me over to his house, as we both lived on the same street—but later bonded over our love for computers, software, websites, and message boards. As Kegan played Castle Crashers on his Xbox, I mindlessly browsed the internet, trying to think, What should I do? What could I do? What could I be good at?
Sometimes a random thought just pops into your head. You could be taking a walk, you could be reading a book… anything. And that random thought can spark a firework in your head. This happened to me while I was aimlessly browsing the internet that day. I started thinking, Do any of the local businesses in our area have websites? I tried searching online for all of the local businesses I knew around my town and couldn’t find anything. Except for a basic landing page every now and then, not a single small business had a website of its own. It’s hard to believe now, but it wasn’t normal for a small local business to have its own website back then. And then it suddenly clicked. I realized I could make websites for the local businesses I thought needed them (which, to me, was automatically everyone who didn’t have one).
When a firework lights off in my brain, I become—at least briefly—uncontrollably obsessed with the idea. It’s something that has carried over the years—my team at Chop Dawg can tell you it is both my most wonderful and my most annoying trait.
I looked for domain names to register. Kegan joined me and we debated over names for a solid hour. I wanted the name Chop Shop—I wanted something to sound “badass.” He kept pushing Top Dog, as a way to clearly communicate to customers who is the best. We kept going back and forth until we compromised.
“How about Chop Dog?”
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
It turned out “Chop Dog” wasn’t available to purchase as a domain name, but another similar name was “Chop Dawg.”
As a sixteen-year-old, I liked the wordplay. Kegan also liked it because it would only make the company stand out further from the crowd. It helped, too, that where we grew up in New Jersey, many people had a slight accent, and when they pronounced “dog,” it came out “dawg ” anyway.
One click of the computer mouse later, and www.ChopDawg.com, the very same company that I run today, was born. At that moment, without even realizing it, I became an accidental entrepreneur.