Why We Chose Prodigy

People often ask me why Michia and I chose the name “Prodigy” for our company.

The truth is, we picked the name over a 30 minute conversation while Michia was walking over to my house. We knew that we wanted to start a B2B company and that we could always change the name later. So we started throwing names out there to see if anything stuck. I remembered that Dropbox used to be called “Get Dropbox” in the early days so I checked getprodigy.com. It was available. We bought it.

Recently, I started thinking what our story would be if we had thoughtfully and deliberately picked the name “Prodigy”. I think that it might have come from my longstanding belief never to underestimate young people.

I learned to never underestimate young people when I was in high school. A lot of this came through my experience playing Chess.

As a high school freshman, I would regularly attend the after school Chess Club. I’d lose most of the games I played. But after each game I’d sit down with people much smarter than I was, dissect the game, and figure out exactly which mistake I made. I loved it.

The following year, all of our top players (seniors at the time) graduated. Our team was now set up to be one of the weakest teams in the league. Rather than lose every game, we reorganized into a casual gaming group. I left the club. By my junior year, the club had deregistered and no one was attending Chess Club.

As a high school senior, I realized that I needed some more leadership if I wanted to have a competitive college application. I also wanted to create something that would survive after I was gone. So I persuaded Chris, a friend of mine (who was a junior) to co-president the club with me. After I’d left the club, he could continue to run it as President while I went off to college.

Between Chris and myself, we now had two chess players. We needed five to compete in inter-school matches. Miraculously, we were able to scramble three casual players who could play and met the minimum requirements for a team. Our problem: our team now was mostly casual players and would be one of the weakest teams in the league.

At this point, I asked my younger brother (an 8th grader at the time) who the strongest chess players he knew were. He referred me one of his friends, John. Chris and I quickly determined that he was a much better player than both of us were and made him first board. Now we had a real team.

John was so young that we had to ask the other schools we were competing with if they were OK letting us play with an eighth grader on our team. Most of them would approve it, assuming that they could give their players tournament experience by playing John on eighth board. Then we’d win our match with John as first board. One school that we played was so upset that they threatened to disqualify us after we’d already won our match with them. They’d made the fatal mistake of underestimating a young person.

What I learned from this experience was to never underestimate young people. Many are smarter, wiser, and more experienced than I am. And more often than not, they bring a perspective that’s valuable precisely because it hasn’t been molded yet by their life experience. Young people don’t feel like they need to defend anything because they have nothing to defend. So they can be outsiders who bring new & fresh into how things have always been done.

Prodigy is doing just that - bringing new and fresh to Automotive Retail. And that’s why I would like to say we chose the name Prodigy.

 
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