In this episode, host Michael Bereslavsky speaks with serial entrepreneur Richard Lau, who has amassed over 20 years of experience in the domain name industry. They talk about Richard’s long list of success stories, along with some of his losses as well.
Named 2004 “Domainer of the Year”, Richard has generated millions of dollars in revenue in the domain industry. NamesCon began as an idea in the fall of 2012 and is now part of the Godaddy family. Another recent exit (to Indeed.com), Resume.com aids millions of job seekers to build their resumes online and provides a home for their online CV for life. His newest project is Logo.com.
SKIP TO THE GOOD PARTS:
- 00:40 – Richard’s Background
- 07:24 – Discussing Namecon
- 10:59 – Buying and developing domain names
- 18:02 – Opportunities for new domainers
Michael 00:13 Welcome podcast listeners, on this episode, we have Richard Lowell serial entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in buying, developing, and selling premium domain names who has had multiple exits and not all successful. Hi Richard.
Richard 00:31 Hi Michael, thanks for having me.
Michael 00:34 So I got to ask you about the non-successful exits first.
Richard 00:40 Yeah, yeah. You know, yeah, so I, I was fairly early into domain name space, but I was running a registrar, not so much buying and selling domain names at that time that was in the late nineties, early two thousand. And I built a registrar called names direct, and we purchased another business called my domain.com which was offering free domain names free DNS services to about half a million domain name customers and things were going gangbusters. You know, it was before GoDaddy really started, it was before started.
So we were really just competing against Verisign at network solutions. And so yeah it was fantastic. We were one of the first 30 registrars, you know, we were printing money. And so being Canadian, you know, the natural thing to do is to hop on a plane and, and you know move your jurisdiction so that when you have a big exit, you, you only pay the difference in capital gain between what it was worth when you left and what it was worth when you sold it. And we had, you know, grandiose plans and so, you know, fast forward, we moved the family to Bermuda, I’ve got a three-month-old. My wife is, you know, very supportive and we get there. And within the span of 90 days two cows comes out at 1495, go, daddy comes out.
The, our website is hacked and the hacker deletes all of our, everything, all of our code or customer base, et cetera. So, then we had to, you know, struggle to find a backup that’s as recent as possible. And at the same time, I’m having health problems where I’m passing blood and I’m just like, Oh, it’s just all the stress of working 18 hours a day. And so, then I go to the hospital and they’re like, yeah, it’s an ulcer here’s some medicine. And then a few days later I can’t even stand up. So, I take myself back to the hospital and check myself in, and basically, it’s colon cancer. And, you know, they’re long story short. They’re like you need to change your life because you don’t have very long to live.
And so you know, this all down, but you know, its life is what you make it, right. It’s, it’s not when or it’s not, if you’re going to get punched in the face, it’s when you’re going to get punched in the face and life is how you react to that. Now for me you know, having been told that, you know, you’re not going to leave the hospital, you’re going to need chemotherapy. And then to have that turnaround where, you know, it turned out, it was just a super-fast-growing tumor, they got it out in time I didn’t need chemo. Here I am, you know, 21 years later. But that really does, give you a wake-up call. And so, I was like, okay, what do I need to do? My doctor’s like, you need to lower your stress because this is genetic.
You have like a 40, 50% chance it’s going to reoccur in five years and 80% chance it’s going to kill you. So, you know, stats, are you going to die, you got a 40% chance of dying in the next five years. So, I sold the company, right. I’m just like, okay, I just need to find a buyer. And along with that rush of selling sloppiness in due diligence and not thinking things through and not getting the right advisor, not getting the right advice. And so, we fast forward a year. Yeah. I’m living in California, it’s 35 hours a week. It’s, like a walk in the park you know, coming down from a hundred, 120 hours a week, but fast forward a year, they’re doing all kinds of Enron accounting. The company loses 97% of its value.
The only thing that’s really a value is the assets that I’ve in, but I traded it for stock. Right. So, at the end of the day, I left, the company, came back to Vancouver and I had a severance check. That was it; I lost, a four or $5 million company and instead I’ve got a severance check, which I actually split with my two partners. And so, you know that is a brutal lesson in how not to exit. Some of the advice I received after that was, you know, the best revenge is to live a good life. And so, I just got back on the horse but rearranged my life so that I could be a lifestyle entrepreneur rather than building that business with dozens of employees and, and just the round around the block offices in different time zones. So, I rearranged my life and got into buying and selling domain names.
Michael 06:12 Wow. That’s quite a story. I got to say, you look pretty good for someone had cancer 20 years ago. So, does it mean you no longer work, 18 hours a day now?
Richard 06:25 That’s correct. Yeah. you know, I, I have put in the, put in the lungs spurts of, of hours when necessary, you know, when we were starting up the names con conference in Las Vegas in in 2014 you know, when you’re running the conference. Yeah, when the conference is on, we were working 20 hours a day. But you can, you know, you can do that for three or four days. And then we put the processes in place, you know, we’re, we realized very quickly that even though it’s a three- or four-day event in Las Vegas, it’s actually a yearlong business. And so, we had an office in Vancouver, we had employees, we had an entire team. We started to really have a process. And when we started NamesCon, we knew that we wanted to exit. So, we were planning for the exit from day one. So, it was a completely different animal.
Michael 07:24 How big was NamesCon? How many people did you have at your biggest event?
Richard 07:28 Just over 15 hundred people, which for the domain industry makes it the largest domain name conference. sometimes has had the larger ones, but, they’re completely free you know, their, their numbers are a little askew. But when you’re charging everyone, yeah, we’re definitely the largest domain name conference, and we’ve sold it. It then went into the GoDaddy family but they’ve just spun it out again, and so it’s in its own conference business along with world hosting days. And so, they’ve got a whole new team running that, and it’s great for me because now I can finally attend the conference and reap the benefits as an attendee, rather than just being the host, making sure that, you know, all of the fires are put out.
Michael 08:23 And what was it profitable? Is it profitable to run a conference?
Richard 08:28 It was profitable. You know, we went into it you know, kind of like ignorance is bliss. We didn’t realize that most conferences lose money in their first few years. We actually started the conference as a fundraiser for Water school, which is a charity that I’ve been involved in and the domain industry has been involved in for many years. And so, our original idea was to hold a conference, get everyone in, and then everyone will be in Las Vegas and then we’ll have a water shave we call it. Where we shave people’s heads and raise money for these clean water projects in Uganda it’s under water school.com of course.
And so that was the main focus of starting the conference. And so, if you’re raising money for charity, then you have to be profitable because the profit is, you know, and donations are what we’re going towards the charity. And so, yeah, we were profitable from day one. And we raised over a hundred thousand dollars combined with the profits and the donations in that first year. And over the, over the years that I owned it, we raised over half a million dollars for water school.com. And then we sold the, sold the conference. And, you know, as I said, we were building the conference with our exit in mind from day one.
Michael 09:58 Yeah, that’s great. I think I attended one or two, a few events in Europe two years ago. I spoke at one of them as well. But yeah, I think the last one you did online right last year.
Richard 10:13 Yeah. So, the ones that were in Europe and the ones that were online were after I sold it. Yeah, I was keeping it small in terms of the one event per year in Las Vegas. And under the new ownership, they expanded the brand. They actually acquired other conferences like domaining Europe and then rebranded that as names con. But yeah, the, the last one was, was online. Then the one coming up in September of 20, 21 will also be online and it’s been done very well. And it’s had a very positive reviews for the online version.
Michael 10:49 No, that’s great. So, the conference with the main registrar, and then the next thing you were doing is just buying and developing domain names, right?
Richard 10:59 Yeah. You know, I’ve been buying and selling domain names for 20 plus years. And as you go along, you get better and better ones coming across your desk. And occasionally you’re able to capture one and just put it into inventory. And so, you know, we have an inventory whether we own them outright or whether we own them in partnership with other investors such names as face.com, hockey.com, rides.com. You know, we had resume.com which we developed and sold. Logo.Com is one that we’re building right now. We have an entire team working on that full time. And then we’ve got other ones that are just in us in our stable for the future, like stock. Photo and stocked out photos and model.net, you know, we have for how these domains could be built out and we’re either going to do it ourselves, or our kids will do it, or we’ll find a partner or we’ll be able to sell it to an end-user who values it for that you know, best case use
Michael 12:11 Does face.com get a lot of type in traffic from Facebook.
Richard 12:15 I don’t think so. I think people are looking for face detection software. They’re also looking for cosmetics. You know, it’s a natural word. So face.com. You know, the, the domain is what we call a super-premium one word.com. So, it’s it, it’s what we love to have. You know, we have thousands of domains, but the super-premium one-word dot comes are the ones that we have an end use in mind and a business in mind. And we’re hoping that we either do it, or we find a partner or we find an end user to buy it
Michael 12:52 Was Facebook interested in acquiring it,?
Richard 12:54 You know, I think they’re fine without it, they’ve got Facebook, they’ve got fb.com. We don’t see the ultimate buyer as Facebook, we see it as someone who is either in the crypto space where your facial identity is attached in the blockchain and it’s, it’s branded under face.com or it’s dating or it’s cosmetics or it’s you know, facial detection.
Michael 13:24 Yeah. That’s, that’s a good point. Excellent. And so how many domains do you own currently?
Richard 13:30 I believe our last count. It was well into the six figures. But you know, the…
Michael 13:36 More than a hundred thousand domains.
Richard 13:39 Yes. Yeah.
Michael 13:39 That’s a lot.
Richard 13:40 Yeah, I do a lot of our business structuring with partners, so that is with partners. So those are not names that are owned under my name. Of those six figures, I honestly would be hard pressed to be able to write down on a scrap piece of paper more than 50 because they’re very long tail domains, you know, two- and three-word dot comes. You know, they’re held and most of them are priced with buy it now at less than $2,000, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s a long model of, of, and very difficult model with very thin margins. You know, people see, Oh, you registered it for, you know, $7 and you’re selling it for 1300. Yes, but we also have, you know, 999 other domains, right. We had to pay the renewal fee on. So, you know of that $1,300, you know, maybe $40 in profit, you know, it’s very thin. It is a, when you’re getting up into the high numbers it’s a, it’s a difficult business.
Michael 14:49 Yeah. I’ve seen that too. I have a portfolio of 500 domains remaining now that are similar, like one, two word, and I found the best thing is just to list them all everywhere. And some of them get sales from Afternic and most are listed with the ones that were listed at like between 500 to 1500, like you mentioned. And I see a lot of kind of random sales, as long as it’s automated. Doesn’t take any time, that seems like a good business model and maybe one to 3% sell a year or something like that. Is it like similar for you in that range?
Richard 15:25 Yeah, we actually were seeing less than 1%, so maybe it’s just bad choices in the domains. But I also think that as your portfolio gets larger it’s easier for that number to, to, to go down. There’s, there’s a sweet spot and it’s, it’s a matter of finding what that sweet spot is. You know, if your portfolio is too small then, then no, one’s finding you. And if your portfolio is too big, it’s easy to you know, to, to run askew and, and carry dead weight. You need to spend the time going through and making sure you’re culling names that aren’t on a current trend or a future trend. And if it’s in a past trend and that trend has passed, you know, don’t renew it, get rid of it. And you know, what we’re trying to do is always like, anticipate what are people going to be registering in a year or two from now, you know? And that’s you know, try and get those names registered so that they’re available for the best-case user.
You know, just as an example you know, we, we sold recently sold a coffee domain and it’s going to, obviously a coffee brewer and, you know, if that name hadn’t been registered, you know, hadn’t been registered by us and made available for sale, they wouldn’t be able to have it. So, a lot of people, when they, when they land on a domain name, that’s listed for sale, they’re like, Oh shoot, it’s for sale. It should be the other way around. Right. You should be celebrating, Oh, you know, somebody hasn’t just randomly registered it. And they’re using it for their pet cat that, you know is coffee colored, you know, it’s just like, you know, if the domain is, is listed for less than $5,000, it’s a steal. Domain name prices are going up especially in the.com space as more and more TLDs come out.
The.Com value is climbing. And so, it’s a very good time to be selling domain names. And so, in fact, I, I just sold a.net for a lot of money and you know, it was into the six figures. And, you know, if you had asked me two years ago, or three years ago, when the all of those new TLDs were being launched, I would have sold you that.net for probably 25% of what I actually sold it for.
Michael 18:02 So do you register a new domains still? Did you register them often now, are they still opportunities for new domainers, build a small portfolio you think?
Richard 18:15 I think there are, you know, I think you have to be very smart about it. You have to be doing your keyword research, you know, looking at trends. There’s lots of newsletters, I think hustle as one where, you know, you’re, they’re, they’re telling you about the keyword trends that people are searching for, that, you know people are talking about whether it’s on take talk or other social media, and then you can look around those things, you know like if they’re coming out, you know, when, when, you know allergies are being talked about as cures as your like, okay, well, you know, the brand brands are going to launch their brands, but you can also take, you know non trademark infringing, generic names, right?
Like, so the peanut allergy is coming out and you can register peanut allergy pills.com or peanut allergy pill depo, right. It’s a four word you know, or peanut allergy pill prescription, right. You can get these or doctor or whatever, you can make this list and you just need one of those of the 20 to 50 that you register to sell, to, to cover it and squeak out a profit. Right. if you’re just buying one, well, that’s like buying a lottery ticket, but if you cover a little area, then you can sell one or you can sell the whole portfolio. But yeah, they there’s tactics. I don’t do it as much as I used to, you know, I’m 51 years old now. And I’m trying not to work you know, 10 to 12 hours a day, but there are others out there who are, and they’re younger and they’re more willing to go through the lists. It’s a lot of lists holding or write the algorithms to go through the lists. So yeah, there’s, there’s definitely opportunity. It’s just wrapped up in a lot of work.
Michael 20:12 What’s the biggest amount you’ve ever paid for the main and what’s like the highest you’ve ever got for selling a domain name.
Richard 20:19 Oh, that’s an interesting question. The most we paid was when we were involved in buying credit shack and free credit check.com and we’re buying them from two different buyers at the same …sorry, two different sellers and trying to negotiate without letting the other know that we were actually going to buy both. And so that was well into the seven figures and kept them for a couple of years and then sold them at auction for you know, a 50% gain. And so, you know, I didn’t do that by myself, I had partners you know, but I was the one that put the whole deal together and then put the deal to sell it together. And so, you don’t have to have money to be in this business. You can start from scratch, you can help other people, you can put deals together, you can be creative, you know you can be a broker, you can find interesting names to register for someone else who will actually pay. So, there’s, there’s lots of different ways of, of getting involved in the domain name, buying and selling business.
Michael 21:36 And so some did most of your deals go with some investors and some external capital, or did you mostly use your own funds?
Richard 21:45 You know, it was definitely a mix for the lower category domains. I use my own money, you know, when I first got was getting back into the domain business, after having lost my company I, I bought a portfolio of domains and I literally paid for it on a credit card but these were revenue names. I knew that they would generate revenue they weren’t being monetized properly. So, I bought this portfolio it’s about just over $5,000 and I was able to buy it on a credit card and I needed too because, I had that severance check, my wife’s like, what are you doing? You going back into this business, like, so I basically use the credit card financing to buy the small portfolio and connected it up, polished it up and got it generating $2,000 a month in revenue.
And so a two-and-a-half-month payback, gosh, show me an online business that you can buy for that you know, at the end of the day and we’ll be buying them every day. So, for that, I didn’t need an investor, but yeah, for larger deals like buying resume.com and resumes.com and buying the credit check, free credit check, yeah, we bring partners in and they’re not always the same partners, like we’ll often have put in like a different syndicate group or just one other partner. So, there’s lots of domains that we own with lots of different partners.
Michael 23:22 And what was your highest revenue domain or the highest revenue you ever got, like in a day from a domain name?
Richard 23:31 You know, I think it would be let me think about that its was probably the credit check names, because at the time the three bureaus in the United States were pushing a website called free annual credit check or free annual report, something like that. And so, you know, when we were developing our SEO and advertising campaigns for free credit check then, we had this kind of instant recognition and the, the crazy thing is that we were then sending the, the business over to those three credit bureaus. They were upselling them on, onto a paid plan form instead of the free platform that was government mandated. So yeah, that part wasn’t in it, and they were quite happy to have the traffic coming in through free credit check. But you know, that that’s kind of past its day and we were able to sell out at a good time. But yeah, I think that that was probably our highest revenue earning, but we bought it as a revenue generating, we kind of polished it up and then sold it on. So, it was really very much like buying an apartment building, renovating it, increasingly the rents and then selling it on. And that’s exactly what we did with credit check and free credit check.
Michael 25:02 Yeah, that’s very similar to what we do with online businesses. And I’ve done that before we’ve domain names as well, but when, when we switched fully to online businesses and now, we don’t do any remaining it’s, there’s just more opportunities. So, we’ve acquired different content businesses, different businesses, and then just been able to improve things, improve monetization, improve SEO, and then resell. So, it’s kind of a similar thing with domain names, I suppose, except you also have the value of the big domain name and the opportunities for some strategic acquirer.
Richard 25:38 Exactly, yeah. It’s a very similar business. And with all of this talk about domain names you know, the, the main, my main focus, what takes up all of my time is actually building the domain names out, right? So, when we built out resume.com, you know, we had an office that I would go through every day in Vancouver and we had the team there all crammed in; tiny desks in a small space you know, with COVID when we’re building out red logo.com you know, everyone is allowed to work remotely. And so, our team is actually spread out even more than just being in Vancouver. But yeah, logo.com is, is a real business, you know, it’s, it’s all of the software we built from scratch, we were solving a problem for our own use and then you know expanding it out to the world. And so, you know, you as, as you know, your listeners are, are people that are buying websites and they’re like, okay, I’m going to put a fresh coat of paint on this thing. Maybe I’ll change the logo, change the color scheme, change the monetization network.
You know, this is something that you want to do and move quickly on. And so, you know, with logo.com, you can get a new logo for $20 in 20 minutes. Whereas, the traditional online logo design takes anywhere from five to 20 days and there’s revisions going back and forth. Well, we can spin up 300 Amazon web servers, multithreaded in a fraction of a second, have all of those conversations, and then just present you with a hundred different logo designs, and then you can scroll through and say what jumps out at me. We’ve spent two years taking human creativity and putting it into different algorithms. And so, when you see something as a human, you know, instantly, if you like it or not, and taking that X-Factor and being able to put it into a predictable flow is what a logo.com is all about. And so, we’re able to generate thousands of logos per day for our customers to choose from, and they can choose from these logos, download them and have them available immediately.
Michael 28:17 Yeah, so I just tried Domain magnate and I see some different logos already provided
Richard 28:21 And each one is just a starting point. You know, you can then click on it and then you can change the coloring. You can look at different designs, everything’s changeable the font, et cetera, but we try to keep people from destroying design as well, right. Instead of just dropping you into a tool that looks like, an online photo shop software, we’re trying to keep you within some bounds so that you’re going to end up with a clean professional logo. That’s not over-designed that doesn’t have too many colors in it. That is going to be high resolution enough that it will look good regardless of the sizing. So, you know it’s hard to take have a non-designer end up with a good design if they don’t have any design skill or design training.
But you know what you like when you see it. So that’s what our tool has to carry that fine balance between being easy to use fast and being professional designs and we think we’ve accomplished it. You know, most of our customers do take the higher packages because they have them in the social media files, they’ve got the letterhead, they got access to business cards, et cetera. But if you’re simply just, you know, re-skinning a website that’s generating a few hundred dollars a month as an Amazon, you know, it’s a made for Amazon, or it’s a Google AdWords site you know, it’s WordPress and you just need a logo in the top corner. You know, you’ve got a lot of things to do. You’ve got content to refresh, you’ve got content to rewrite. You don’t want to get stuck for three weeks on the logo and holding a contest and like going back and forth with a designer, who’s designing something that looks cartoon-like because they’re in a different country, they’re in a different culture.
You know, you need to, to be able to have the sandwich down because it’s, we recognize that your logo isn’t the central part of your business. It’s, it’s simply your communication in that split second of communicating, goodwill, professionalism, et cetera. But you have a checklist of a hundred items to do, and logo is just one of them. So, we’re here to solve that problem for our users and we do it you know, thousands of times a month. So, it’s, it’s obviously working well and we’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in two years.
Michael 30:53 Yeah, that’s pretty cool. So, I see $20 is your smallest package. And I guess there are no free, no free options. It’s only paid.
Richard 31:03 Yeah, I mean there’s the old adage, you know money is, is, is really just a form of thank you. Right. And so, if we’re delivering value then, then yeah, we believe that we’ve earned the, the right for as low as $20. But yeah, the, we try and deliver, five to 10 times the value. So, when you’re looking at the $20, we’re comparing that to what you would pay to our competitor at a hundred. And in terms of time as well, the time saved works into this calculation. And so, when you’re buying a hundred dollars package, you know, we think that we’re delivering a thousand dollars’ worth of value because of the amount of social media kits, the tools the various different sizes of logo sizes and, and variations.
Michael 32:05 So tell us a little bit more about what it takes to build a business like that. And how, how is it doing now? Is it profitable as a generating lung, solid revenue, and what did it really take to build it out from scratch?
Richard 32:18 Yeah, so, you know when you look at our, the logo business, if you go to logo.com/pricing, you can see that we sell kits and we sell plans, right? And the plans are subscription, right? It’s, it’s logos where your logo.com is where your logo lives. And you have access to all of the brand tools, because, you build a logo, but then you need to build your brand over time. And so, you want to have access to, to the different brand tools as, and when you need them. And so that’s what we built a we have a subscription for that. And so, when you’re, when you’re signing customers on and they’re. Going onto the subscription plan.
You know, the subscription is as low as, you know, $5 a month. But you’ve, you’ve got all of the development costs and support costs, et cetera, that $5 in that month, isn’t going to cover it. So, you have to work out and calculate, okay, what’s the lifetime value of a $5 a month customer. Right. And we can spend up to that amount in gaining that customer and servicing that customer and building the tools for that customer. So, when you, when you look at it that way, then yes, we’re profitable. If you look at it as a pure cashflow basis. No, we’re non-profitable as most software as a, as a service business are, are not profitable in their early growth stages and you don’t want to be right. You want to be spending your money developing out the tool sets and building out your customer base. You know, we’re, we’re not looking at this as a lifestyle business. We’re looking at this as a, you know, build this massive tool set that delivers exponential value to our customers and, and build a very, very large user base.
Michael 34:08 And so what did it take to build this business from scratch? You, you said it took three years of development. Was it, was it really a big project to do, to do work on personally a lot? Or did you have agency help or your team?
Richard 34:26 Yeah, so you know, we, we’ve had different team members graduate up and take on the role of a project manager. So, we have that for names con we had that for resume. We have a different business partner from our team running logo.com and yeah, it’s, it’s not, it’s not a simple task because you’ve got this domain name, that’s worth seven figures, and then you’ve got the, this startup company that needs to write its code and its website, it’s marketing plan, hire developers, hire customer support, content writers, et cetera. And so, yeah, we we’ve done it where the domain name is placed into escrow the company as an option to purchase that domain name. So even, even though logo.com runs on logo.com, the company running logo.com doesn’t own the domain, it has a lease and an option to purchase.
And that way the money that’s raised or input, you know, a few different partners put money into fund this logo.com startup two years ago. And so, when we were putting that money in, it knows definitively, okay, well, this is how much money it would cost to buy the domain when we need to buy it. You don’t have to raise the money at day one to buy the domain. And so, we’ve, we’ve done that in the past. We’ve done that with external companies where we have the domain and we’re giving them the option to purchase. And it’s, as I say, it’s a great way to get involved in, in super premium domain names without having the funds to buy it.
Michael 36:18 So your mortgage, your mortgage for domain name, and then use the, the loan to develop it basically.
Richard 36:25 No, you actually, you don’t even, you know it’s like know, you, you want to set up a McDonald’s on the corner of this high volume intersection and so you’re like, okay, well, I’m going to pay rent, I’m going to lease the land and I’m going to raise money to build the building, but I’m not, you know, instead of raising money to buy the land and then raising money to build the building, you just raised money to lease the land with an option to purchase it. So that’s what we’re doing here is we’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re just looking at real-world real estate and saying, how does that apply to domain names? So, yeah, if someone has a super-valuable domain name if you go to, I think it’s venture.com it’s a great example you know, at venture.com, you can go… and they don’t even list prices for what the domain name would sell for because they don’t sell domains.
They’ll only lease you the domain name, which, you know, each to their own. But you know, paying, you know $6,000 a month to own bacon.com could definitely be worthwhile, right? And it gets you access to you know, a seven-figure domain name or, five or six figures a year. And so, it’s, it’s really a much better use of the capital that you raise as a startup, right? So instead of having to raise seven figures to buy logo.com and fund the development of it, we only needed to raise six figures to, to say, okay, well, we’ve got, you know, we want a two year run rate of being able to hire developers, write the code, et cetera, and pay for the lease of the domain name, but we just needed to raise, multiple six figures in there, but that’s a lot easier to raise that from friends, family, and an eternally than trying to raise seven figures to buy the domain and then do the startup. So, the fact that we’re doing it ourselves we’re just replicating what we’ve done with other people and what, venture.com is doing every single day.
Michael 38:50 Yeah, so I see you can rent affiliate marketing.com for example, for twenty to 250 months, right?
Richard 39:01 That seems cheap you know? What are you going to you know, let’s say you, you and I started an affiliate marketing business, should we call it, Bereslavsky and lao.org? Or should we call it affiliate marketing.com, right. For 250 a month, that’s money well spent.
Michael 39:17 Yeah It’s like instant recognition in the industry and people would immediately think that you probably know what you’re talking about, if you have that kind of the domain.
Richard 39:29 Exactly, exactly You know you know, when we were running resume , I was going down to a conference in LA and I sent a one line message in LinkedIn to the CEO of ZipRecruiter and, it was just like a $300 million company. And 15 minutes later, I get a reply. Right? And it’s, you know, he wouldn’t do that if I was emailing him from resume river.com or resume mountain.net, you know, but the fact that I’m messaging him as the founder of resume.com he’s like, yeah, let’s have a meeting. It opens doors, you have that instant recognition that “Hey, if you go to logo.com, you know, that we’re living and breathing logos, right. If you’ve got a resume.com, you know that person is, is living and breathing resumes. And, but, you know, if, if you’re going to resume river.net, it’s like, ah, maybe it’s a single guy, you know, working in his basement and it’s a side hustle.
Michael 40:35 Yeah. That makes sense. And what are your thoughts now about the future of domains especially premium one-word domains with the new DLDs with the trend of apps now and all these new technologies. Do you think they will still be relevant five, 10, 20 years from now?
Richard 40:54 You know, I think that it’s an interesting thing to think about and to look at, but the fact that we’re still using… you can pick up the phone, you still type in a phone number, right? I mean, we, we have apps and generally you, you do have everyone in your speed dial, but we still operate on phone numbers. And so, the 800 numbers they’ve gone up in value. And so, when you have more and more TLDs coming out you know, we’ve got 1200 right now and there’s going to be more in the future. We’ve also got handshake domains and you know, name base doing the alternative decentralized domain names, all of that, all of that noise increases the value of short.com domains. So, I’m not saying that that also applies to you know, biz.info, but there are going to be stars among the new TLDs, you know, dot club dot X, Y, Z, you know, these are our really star pupils.
But you know, there’s sometimes I see a, a TLD and I’m like, I didn’t even know that was one, right? And so, they’re, they’re hit and miss there, but if you have a one or two word.com domain, that value is definitely going up and it’s going up faster than I had predicted. So, you know you know, face.com. If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have sold it for a million dollars. But you know, if you ask me today, the asking price is 10 million, and you know we have sold domains this year and last year for a lot more than we had expected that we would be able to sell them for.
Michael 42:55 So that’s great. The demand is growing then.
Richard 42:58 Indeed, indeed it is. You know, and even, even these two- and three-word dot comes that we had a lot of them priced at $588 and we’ve since increased almost all of them to $1,288. And we’re debating right now, whether we should increase that again to 24 or 2388, we like baby eights. So, we may do a blanket increase across the board for all of our two-word dot comes to increase the price from around that $1,300 mark to around the $2,500 mark, because the market can bear it.
Michael 43:38 Where do you list your domains to work with if Afternic and others? So, do you do your list on your own for those sites?
Richard 43:44 No, we, we work with Afternic and we work with Afternic and union registry for our buy it now prices for our single word, super premiums. We, we generally work with brokers and generally we’re waiting for someone to come to us. And so, w you know, we’ve found that that is the best way to, to make sure that you’re going to receive the top dollar, because we don’t sell our domains at wholesale.
Michael 44:14 So what would you say is kind of the main skill that allowed you to succeed in this business of domaining? Was it, was it more to do with making deals trading or business development?
Richard 44:27 Yeah, I think that, you know, what, what really got me started is that you know, Rick Schwartz had a message board. He’s an wasn’t even organized. It was just like a stream of consciousness. And what I found very unique in that message board was that in the domain space, because each domain name is slightly different from someone else’s that the people and the domain investors are willing to share their information. They’re like, this is how I negotiated it. This is how I was able to get more money, or this is what I did with the Lander, or this is how I monetize this domain, or this is how I negotiated to buy this domain, or this is how I found a domain for cheaper.
Michael 45:22 And there was just like this amazing sharing of information and being helpful. And so,
Richard 45:27 So I think that, you know, when I, when I came back to this message board and said, look, guys, I’ve lost my company. What do you guys do anyway? Right. Because I’ve just been really providing them with VIP customer service. But they, they took me under their wing and they showed me what they were doing and how they were making money and really that, that network that I built from that message board carries me through to today. And so, you know I’ve, I’ve tried to, to pay that forward and be helpful, you know, be involved in charity you know, developing out the conference space you know, for the domain community, you know, even a reasons when we’re looking through our list of domain names of what we’re going to develop, you know, resume.com jumped out because it’s an area that we can add value and be helpful to the university college and high school students so that they can get a better job than if we didn’t exist, you know, and with logo, it’s like, how can we help people get online faster so that they can get online you know, and be successful.
Whereas if we didn’t exist, they may get side railed or derailed on this three-week logo process. So, our, our main mantra is always to be helpful, but yeah, it, as I said earlier, it’s wrapped up in work, right. You’re making your own luck, you’re creating these opportunities, but it takes a lot of work. It takes putting teams together building synergistic partnerships. And so, yeah, I think that you know, growing your network and is, is extremely, extremely powerful. And I didn’t see that until after I had lost my first company. You know, if I, if I could turn the clock back, my goodness, there’s so many different things I would do differently as a young person. But yeah, it took me to age 30 when I was diagnosed with cancer to kind of sit down and be like, okay, how do I actually work on my business? How do I design my life to be a lifestyle entrepreneur? How do I, you know, do things instead of just like going with the flow and, and just, you know, seeing what was sticking, you know, it was a bit more thought process and definitely servicing my business network.
Michael 48:01 Yeah, that’s amazing. I remember when I started domaining back in 2007, 2008, DND forum was a place where most domainers used to hang out and I found that also quite valuable to be able to interact with people, able to join that community and learn from them. So, I can definitely agree with that, that the value of, of network, and it was, was amazing in that, in that space and specifically in that industry. Thank you for your time. Are you sure it was a pleasure to talk to you? What, where can people find out more about you and follow up I with what you’re doing?
Richard 48:41 Okay. Thank you, Michael. Yes, I’m, I’m Richard Lau, you can find [email protected], but the easier one to remember [email protected] and I’m on LinkedIn every day. So hit me up there. Yeah, reach out and make a connection, send me a message. And you know, let’s see what we can do together.
Michael 49:01 Well, thank you. Have a good day.
Richard 49:03 Thanks Michael
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