Why the Name?

The Toucan AI team recently attended a startup & venture-capital conference, where we met a ton of amazing people and had a lot of fascinating conversations. We learned about some incredible projects in Atlanta and in the South-Eastern US, and we shared a bit about what we’re working on at Toucan AI. And, at least a dozen times, we heard some variant of the same question: “So, why is it called Toucan?”

To set the record straight once and for all, here’s a definitive blogpost on the origin of our name.

Why Toucan? Here’s the main reason:

The Toucan Puppet

Yep. The primary inspiration for our name was, in fact, this plush Toucan puppet that I found lying around in my childhood bedroom during a visit home for the holidays.

Arjun (our CEO) and I had been trying to come up with a name for the platform we were building, and we’d been spitballing with bird-related names because we liked the connotations of freedom and a lack of constraints. We were very focused on building something that lacked the strict confines of traditional chatbot systems, something that allowed for free-flowing (free-flying?) conversations. We somehow free-associated our way to birds, and at that very moment, lying in bed in my parents’ home, I saw this puppet crumpled on top of my dresser. It felt like kismet. We kept brainstorming other names, but in the weeks that followed, we found ourselves coming back to Toucan over and over. It was pithy, whimsical, fun, and memorable – and we already had a mascot ready to go, sitting on my dresser!

We turned to Google to substantiate our intuition and found even more reasons to love the name. Toucans are highly social animals, and Wikipedia calls them “among the most popular and well known birds in the world." They have a long history representing brands with great success, serving as the mascot of Guinness beer in the 30s and 40s and as the face of Froot Loops in the present day. We see ourselves as a continuation of this tradition, in a sense– while brands and stores might have depended on mascots to connect with consumers in the past, today they can turn to Toucan AI.

And that, folks, is how we came to be Toucan AI!

- Vishnu

If we’ve managed to convince you that toucans are incredible animals, consider participating in the SF Zoo & Garden’s Adopt-a-Toucan Program, which raises funds to “support these tropical birds .. connect people to wildlife, inspire caring for nature, and advance conservation action”