A decade into the life of a pioneering business may seem premature for a re-birth.

But in the case of the dotCoop business a re-birth of the way in which the internet is approached by its users has opened the door to a greatly increased customer base, in the eyes of dotCoop’s chief executive Carolyn Hoover.

Hoover’s drive to sign up co-operatives for a .coop domain name is palpable. She explained from dotCoop’s Washington D.C. home, within the bowels of the National Co-operative Business Association’s offices, why achieving her aim of building the coop’s business became an easier task in 2011.

dotCoop is the sponsor of the top level domain name .coop. Up until the middle of 2011 it was only .com, .net, .org and country-denoted domain names, along with the little-known .coop that fell into the top level bracket of domain names.

But a change was lobbied for with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to open the until-now-exclusive list of top level domains. In June 2011 the widening of the pool was approved and business began to look up for dotCoop.

“I’m excited about how the growth in the number of domains will make people more aware of the value of what’s at the end of a domain name and what it will mean to .coop,” Hoover said. “In the past, people would see a .coop name and think that the .coop at the end of the domain was just a mistake. What they will come to understand is that the end of the domain means as much as the rest of the name!”

She noted that a number of .coop users have pointed out how they have used the question about the .coop on their email or website as a starting point for a discussion about what makes a co-op different from other businesses. “Now people will start looking at the TLD [the last part of the domain name] and realize that .coop really means something. It’s the way to know that you’’ve found a business that is based on specific values and principles and not just another .com or .org.” Hoover explained that dotCoop will be working with the .coop registrars around the world to promote this as the new domains start getting press and will be promoting .coop to other groups that want to use a domain space to identify their group or community online.

“dotCoop learned a lot of lessons from the early years of being one of the first group of new domains selected back in 2000. But, being a part of the co-operative community has made us more – well – cooperative – and we look forward to working with other new groups and sharing our ‘lessons learned.'”