Earlier today I received an email with Quora.com’s Weekly Digest. At the top of the list was a question which I thought was interesting.
Why Do Most Of The Successful Startups Come Out Of The USA?
This is something that I’ve thought about in the past and have always felt that it had to do with the support structure which is in place here in the United States. The top voted reply on Quora.com for this question was written by Robert Scobe of Rackspace.com. He has been assigned the task of studying startups for Rackspace.
Here is the in-depth answer he provided on Quora.com:
I meet with startups from around the world. There are several reasons that more big tech startups come from here than from any other place.
Access to role models. One CEO, as we drove by Apple’s headquarters, told me how he watched Apple growing up from a startup, like I did (I lived a mile or two away and got a tour when it was smaller than Y Combinator back in 1977). He said “if Apple can do it, anyone can.” More on why role models are so important later.
Access to funding. Apple needed funding to get started. So does every startup. Only a few can go it on their own with just friends and family money. But here even friends and family money is easier to get because of the role models. We all know that if we give you $10,000 (what GoPro started up with, by the way, less than two hundred yards from my house) that it could become a billion-dollar company someday. How many people around the world know that’s possible? Not many, in my experiences.
Access to business infrastructure. Need a lawyer that understands how to help startups? They are here. Need an office with good startup help? Go see something like Plug-n-Play that houses 300 startups. Need a PR firm? They are here. Need a mentor who has built a company before? They are here. Need a launch vehicle, like a conference? They are here. Need a CFO who understands how to get a company ready for an IPO? They are here. Etc etc. Yeah, they might also exist elsewhere, but not in high concentrations like in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York, Los Angeles.
Access to distribution. How will you get your new service into the hands of people? How about app stores? Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have them. Who else? No one with serious ones. How about search engines? How about partnership possibilities (want OpenTable to distribute your stuff, for instance?) Those distribution and partnership opportunities are probably in San Francisco or New York. Rarely other places. Not to mention that most of the world’s tech press is located in San Francisco or New York.
Access to monetization capabilities. You want ads? New York has them. Who else will deliver you the USA market, which is still the richest in the world (at least for a few years until China totally takes over). There are other markets that can monetize, but they are not as profitable and harder to kick off a worldwide brand with.
Access to Talent. The modern company will probably need a big data expert. Someone who knows how to push around a big Hadoop cluster, for instance. Do you have one in your local community? Probably not, but they exist like flies in San Francisco area. Google, and many Silicon Valley tech companies (HP, CIsco, Sun, Yahoo) started at Stanford University, which continues to pour out a lot of top-rate engineering and business talent.
Access to practiced management. Can you find a CEO that’s led a startup out of two-person eating-ramen mode yet in your local community? That understands how to handle HR problems because she’s done that before? Understands how to deal with the world’s top press? Understands how to get into Larry Page’s office and make a deal with Google?
Access to production. Oakley, GM, Ford, Boeing and many others make their own products here, which makes it easy to find people who understand how to make things. Apple goes to China, but even there many Chinese manufacturing lines cater to American markets.
Sheer serendipity. Often when I’m at dinner, drinking coffee in the San Francisco area I meet random execs from startups and big companies. This simply doesn’t happen in mass many other places in the world. I’ve witnessed these kinds of happenstance meetings turn into major business deals. Hard to put yourself in play elsewhere.
The main thing, though, is the belief that it can be done. The company I work for, Rackspace, started up in San Antonio. Part of that was the simple belief, on our chairman’s part, that it could be done without moving to San Francisco. It certainly is easier to have that belief when you’re surrounded with other examples who have done it (San Antonio was also home to AT&T, for instance).
Just the other day I heard two surfers talk about how GoPro started on the waves of Half Moon Bay and now is a billion-dollar business. Even surfers here know that they could become a billionaire, so are more likely to start their own companies. It’s the belief that really gets things going here. That causes people to take risks (and be backed up by friends, family, and community). That rarely happens around the world.
I completely agree with Robert on all of the points he listed above and can honestly say that those of us who have the opportunity to be part of the startup space here in the US really need to appreciate the fact that we have so much support available when it comes to launching our ideas. I decided to blog about this post, because I feel that it applies to more than just the startup space.
Every industry here in the US benefits from the points he listed in his answer.
At the end of last year I made a couple of domain / site sales. Yesterday, I found myself browsing through the list of of domains that I sold and noticed one of them had expired. This happened to be one of the better names that I owned and although I shouldn’t care, since I no longer own the name I felt it was important to ping the new owner.
I decided to check on the domains because I am always curious what the new owners end up doing with them. I spend a great deal of time investing in domain names and one of the best feelings isn’t necessarily the money I have derived from selling the names. It is the mere fact that someone is spending the time and effort to unlock a specific domain name’s potential.
Hopefully the new owner of the name ends up seeing the email that I sent to them soon. I would hate for them to be faced with dropping a valuable domain name because they overlooked the expiration date of the name. For me, domain sales aren’t just an open and closed case. I tend to extend myself past the point of simply selling a domain name. I want those who have purchased names from me to know that they are buying from someone that they can really trust and will have their best interest. Even if this means checking on a few of the names and sending personal reminder emails.
Call me old fashion but I want everyone to succeed in this domain race, regardless if I am competing directly with them or not.
While scanning through the news today I noticed a press release for the domain name Forms.com. I have to say that it is one of the best press releases I have seen showcasing a premium domain name. The press release pretty much provides all of the information a prospective domain buyer might be interested in knowing. It also discusses the fact that leasing arrangements could potentially be made for the right company.
I also like the fact that the press release included a custom logo, it really helps you understand the brand potential that a domain like this can potentially have.
Here is the press release:
Premium Domain Name Forms.com available to $155 Billion Dollar Commercial Printing Industry
Domain Portfolio Services, a boutique domain sales company and a division of Recordweb Communications of Toms River, NJ is pleased to announce an exclusive domain broker’s agreement to sell the premium domain name “FORMS.COM”.
“Forms.com captures a number of markets including the $155 Billion dollar commercial forms industry. Short, easy to remember generic domain names are considered premium by their nature and have commanded seven figure prices in the past” says Scott Neuman, President of Domain Portfolio Services.
For advertisers that try to “buy” the Forms.com niche on Google, the average cost per click is close to $20.00 and a successful advertising campaign on Google could easily spend $2,000,000 or more per year. Buying the premium domain name Forms.com would pay for itself within a year or two. In addition, Forms.com attacks a number of interesting markets, such as, Banking, Automobile, Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate. All these markets need multipart forms or commercial forms. While printing companies will be our target companies, angel and venture fund companies and hedge fund companies may want to capitalize on the Premium Domain Name Marketplace with Forms.com, and could be customers for this domain name. Buy now as an investment and sell higher certainly comes to mind. The leasing market is also coming to a head, and leasing the domain name to a company could generate income for decades. This is a first come, first served domain name.
Scott Neuman, a domain name developer, investor and broker since the start of the domain industry in the 1990′s continues “I especially like the possibilities of using left of the dot marketing with Forms.com. Left of the Dot marketing means using related market words to the left of Forms.com to form new search terms. Examples would be Commercial.Forms.com, Financial.forms.com, Legal.forms.com, or Automobile.forms.com. The subdomain name list goes on and on and the search engines eat this type of SEO marketing up. You wouldn’t need to buy dozens of domain names. Owning Forms.com becomes the root for all your business form needs. The next owner of Forms.com could conceivable capture page one results on most of the search engines for all form related products. There are only two premium domain name words that come to mind in the $155 Billion dollar forms industry and Forms.com is one of them.”
There are very few domain names that define the forms industry with one word like Forms.com does. Domain Portfolio Services expects that Forms.com will command a seven figure selling price by the time the offer period is over and will certainly be in the top 25 of domain name selling prices for some time to come.
Interested Parties should contact Scott Neuman for more information. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 848-333-8899.
On the last day of Webfest Global I found myself sleeping in later than normal. The long week had finally caught up with me and I could feel myself getting a little sick. I arrived at the Fairmont Hotel right in time for the PITCHfest Contest. The judges for the contest were John Morris (Recovering VC), Scott Jarus (On The Board Of Oversee And Three Other Tech Companies), Allen Morgan (On The Board Of Oversee And Idealab), Will Hsu (Founder Of Mucker Lab), and Ben Kuo (SocalTech.com).
This year’s PITCHfest had a wide array of startups, some of which have promising futures. Here are the ideas that were pitched:
1. Chris Hood of Robinhood Films
Chris has been a domainer for 10 years and in the movie industry for 20. He’s in the process of shooting his fifth film later this year. His startup dealt with equity crowd funding specific to film. He mentioned that Kickstarter made 15 million last year and that there was plenty of money to go around in this space, especially since SEC requirements are now allowing to crowd fund with the idea of earning a return. He wants to develop a business paired with a site to help be at the forefront of this ever evolving space.
2. Jeremie Godreche of Freedom Registry
The Freedom Registry is an operator of the TLD of Tokelau (www.dot.tk) which has about 1300 people and is 5 square miles. In 2006 Freedom Registry established a joint venture with the government in which they decided to give away domains for free. They have earned revenue by upselling customers and monetizing traffic.
They are the second largest TLD after .com and are responsible for 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country. The TLD collectively receive 200 million visits per day. He mentioned the spider technology was developed with the help of Jun Wang from the University College London. He went on to discuss device profiling and how it allows them to improve relevancy of the ads being displayed.
Now they want to use this for other people as well, this is not just for .tk domains. Anyone can benefit from this technology. They are interested in a $3,000,000 raise at a 12 million pre-money valuation. They feel that device profiles will be a great technology that will benefit everyone.
3. C.M. Landrus of BingeTV
BingeTV is an online distribution platform for web series and short films. It is not a repository like youtube. The content produced is geared towards educating people that choose not to have cable TV or can’t. There’s so much content out there it streamlines search content. The content is higher quality and has a higher production value then what you normally see available on the Internet.
Revenue streams would be freemium or subscription based allowing you to subscribe to a particular film maker.
4. Adam Acheson of Bachelor Haus
Bachelor Haus wants to sell complete room sets to young bachelors. There target audience would benefit from the interior decorators they would have on board. Buyers would save money by purchasing complete room sets and wouldn’t worry about how to decorate there living spaces.
5. Jessie Adams of Clude
Clude is a free mobile app to include the people you know in your daily routine. Select where you’re going and what you are including them for. Clude saves your responses by location. All your responses come back in the form of an email. You can confirm your thought as it makes being thoughtful easy. It enables real-time relevant messaging. The conerstone of a platform for bringing people together.
6. Nate Gray of Cassowary Creative
Cassowary Creative is Monster meets LinkedIn for writers. It helps them create an online portfolio page and start applying to jobs. They are looking for $200,000 and the site is almost in beta. It is based on the premise that everyone is a writer.
7. Dan Marble of Film Break
Film Break is changing the way films are made. They raised $200,000 to date. Film Break is a one stop shop for film makers and fans. End game is an all rights revenue strategy like an AngelList for film. Currently there are 50 deals on the site and it is growing daily and they are in the market to raise 1.5 million.
At the end of all the presentations the conference attendees had the chance to vote for the People’s Choice award. This award ended up going to TK registry. I kind of figured this would happen, since this conference was mainly geared towards domain investors.
The judges had a different opinion on the mater. They ended up voting for Film Break. I had a chance to see Dan Marble present at the SM New Tech Meetup back in August of 2012. He is a master at presenting and the idea just might gain the traction it is looking for this year. The judges voted for a solid startup company. Dan and his team deserve to be recognized for the effort that they have put into the startup thus far.
In case you are wondering, I voted for Clude. Ever since I purchased my Samsung Galaxy SIII I’ve been an app nut! This is one app I could see myself using. I think that it has a great deal of potential and look forward to seeing where Jessie ends up a few months from now. Something tells me he will get the traction he is looking for.
After PITCHfest all the conference attendees were bused up to the Magic Castle. What happens at the Magic Castle stays at the Magic Castle! It was a great night of food, drinks and networking. Although I miss the Castle in the hills, it was fun to enjoy a night of magic.
That wraps up just about everything I had a chance of experiencing at Webfest. I hope you enjoyed the coverage and make sure to attend next year! It will be well worth your time!
Now that Webfest Global 2013 has ended, lets talk about the things I do after a conference. I digress, but I should have Webfest Global Day Three finished either by Sunday or Monday. Now lets talk about what I have done and am in the process of doing to help maximize my conference experience.
1. Organize any business cards or contact information you might of received during the conference. I got an early start in this department and ended up inputting a few business card contacts into my Highrise CRM for the domain industry. Highrise allows me to keep a close tab on my new contacts and allows me to add notes on the individuals I had the chance to meet.
2. Follow up with everyone that you met at the conference. I make an effort to at least send an email to people that I interacted with at the conference. I find it important to keep the lines of communication open, because you never know how you can end up helping one another in the future.
3. Schedule a time to meet up with people who live within your local area. Since I live in Los Angeles, I am fortunate enough to live close to several other domain investors. I plan on scheduling a time to meet up with a few of the conference attendees who live near me.
4. Connect with a few of the sponsors who were at the conference. I plan on connecting with a few of the sponsors from Webfest Global to learn more about the solutions they are providing domain investors with.
5. Unload any pictures you might have on your phone or camera. I’m guilty of keeping pictures on my phone when they should really be shared and then deleted. This year I’ve been actively sharing my experience and had a number of photos taken during Webfest Global which I will be uploading to both instagram and facebook.
6. Last but not least, take some time to reflect on the conference. I tend to use my blog as a journal, but this year I might actually write a few private notes about my experience. There was a great deal of information being shared during the conference. The majority of which I can’t publish publicly.
Day two at Webfest Global started with a race to Santa Monica to get a glimpse of the Keynote fireside chat with Kim Kardashian. A few streets were blocked off for a farmer’s market which caused me to run a little later than expected. I stepped into the fireside chat with about fifteen minutes to go and enjoyed the brief experience. While I was there Kim talked about a few things that her mother taught her.
One of the points she brought up revolved around dealing with people who say no. Here is the exact quote she was referenceing:
“If somebody says ‘no’, you’re asking the wrong person.” – Kris Jenner
A quote like this can be applied to almost any situation and is one that I will have to remember in my business dealings. Kim did a great job of reflecting on her experiences, but I really wish they could of gotten her mother involved in the fireside chat. Her mother is a true business mind and a major force in creating the Kardashian brand as we know it today.
After the fireside chat it was off to lunch under the fig tree. Although I signed up to dine with an expert for all three days I ended up only dining with Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief of SearchEngineLand.com. Danny provided an exponential amount of information on SEO and was very helpful in answering the questions of attendees sitting at his table. I asked a few questions in reference to search engine optimization for my product driven affiliate sites. My goal this year is to take one of the sites and really focus my efforts on ranking for solid keywords. I had a concern about some of the product information coming from Amazon potentially penalizing me because of redundant content.
Danny ended up saying that I should start filling in the gaps with original content. In other words, look at what Amazon doesn’t provide in their product descriptions / reviews and make an effort to provide this information for both the search engines and visitors. It’s something I had thought about doing in the past, but my conversation with Danny made me realize that I should get it done now. Those words have sparked me to look at my product driven affiliate sites in a different manner and I can’t wait to get started on adding some fresh content.
After lunch I caught up with a few old friends that I hadn’t seen for three years. Then, I headed over to the Starlight Ballroom to catch the last few minutes of the panel on PPC, Retargeting, Affiliate, Social. PPC retargeting is something I can see myself using after building a real brand, but until I do that I’d rather focus my efforts on development. This panel consisted of Jay Weintraub, Peter Hamilton, Merry Morud, Adam Epstein and Raj Beri as the moderator.
Here is a description of what the panel was about taken from the WebfestGlobal website:
This session will provide you with the pros and cons of acquiring traffic via each of these channels. You will also learn about the latest tips, techniques and tools for getting the best performance out of your investment in each channel. Q&A to follow.
After this session I waited around in the Starlight Ballroom for the Moniker Live Premium Domain Name Auction to start. I debated on signing up for the auction and decided that it was best just to enjoy the bidding taking place around me. The only domain on the list that I was interested in and fit my budget was GunPermits.com. The domain ended up selling for $5,500. You can read more about the auction results on DomainNameWire.com.
Day one at Webfest Global opened up with a bang. I arrived just a few minutes after lunch started and was able to cross a few things off of my checklist. Before I get into how the rest of the day panned out I just wanted to stress the importance of meeting people face to face.
In my book, there is nothing that comes close to being able to talk one on one with an individual. There was one person in particular that I had communicated with via email for quite some time. I ran into this specific individual at the conference and was able to finally hash out a few things within seconds of speaking to them. The time we spent talking was much more meaningful then the email exchanges we had in the past. This was a big priority of mine and was one of the main reasons why I decided to attend the conference to begin with.
After this conversation I headed to the Starlight Ballroom for the panel on Domain Monetization Options Beyond Parking. The expert panelists included Braden Pollock, Zappy Zapolin, Jay Champman, Lavin Punjabi and Michael Gilmour. While attending this panel I posted a picture of the session of it on my facebook and the following comment was made:
“So tell us about monetization beyond parking … reveal the secrets!”
In an effort to keep this post short and to the point, I’ll try to explain a little of what I learned. The panelists stressed the following points:
1. Parking shouldn’t be considered a viable way to generate real revenue off of your domains.
2. Focus on building a business, which starts with a business plan and gains traction with a solid domain.
3. Understand the type of traffic your names can potentially generate or are generating and exploit it.
4. Look towards avenues such as lead generation to help.
5. Look for verticals with mature markets that will have buyers.
6. Don’t just develop any domain, choose a solid one that gives you credibility when developing a brand.
7. Zero click and mobile are two avenues that domain investors tend to ignore or know nothing about.
8. Analyze your domains and see what future categories will be.
9. Partner up with those who have the skills you are looking for.
10. Parking will not grow at the same pace as it has in previous years.
I enjoyed the panel, but I have to admit that as a domain investor I’ve heard people stress these points before. For me, developing a brand has become more of a focus of mine but is easier said then done. Since that is the case I will be focusing the majority of my efforts on no more than three brands this year.
Next up was a workshop called How to Negotiate a Fair Price for a Domain. The expert panelists in this workshop included Andrew Rosener, Paul Nicks and Morgan Linton.
I might be bias in saying this, but this was by far the most informative session I attended so far during the conference. (I’m currently at the Moniker Live Premium Domain Name Auction.)
Here are a few points that the panelists stressed during the workshop:
1. Pricing a domain is a fine art and it is a lot like pricing art.
2. People tend to put ambiguous values on domains.
3. Metrics are important when calculating the value of a domain.
4. Exact match domains are still important.
5. The key to selling a domain for a decent return is to place the domain in front of the right person at the right time.
6. For domain investors, there will be a number of new landrushes. The investor base is not big enough to accommodate the flood of landrushes. With all the new TLDs launching there will be more exposure for the industry.
7. VCs want startups to spend more money on marketing. A startup that raises an initial round of $500,000 will be given a $50,000 budget for marketing efforts which include things such as a domain name.
8. Startups haven’t always taken the domain they begin with seriously. Some of these businesses start off with a 2 or 3 word dot com domains then realize the brand they are creating would be better off with a 1 word TLD.
9. Startups are starting to understand that it pays off tremendously to start off with a strongly branded domain.
10. Every domain name has a price.
11. Mobile is going to effect search trends.
12. Increased PPCs lead to increased domain name values.
13. When it comes to your domain names, don’t get married to a particular number.
14. The buyer sitting in front of you is probably the best buyer you’ve got.
15. If you are an active outbound seller, the most powerful sales tool is to get the domain in-front of as many people as possible.
16. When a buyer comes to you, the price is completely different from when you approach them. An inbound hot lead on a domain is much easier to get a higher price with.
17. Don’t ignore inbound leads, regardless of what the initial offer is. Be polite to all offers and give the person inquiring a counter-offer you feel is fair.
18. If a domain is not for sale, find out what the owner is using the name for. It’s important to understand the type of friction you can potentially create and what the costs to migrate to a secondary domain would be.
19. Never give out the price first. As a domain investor, you have much more information than the end-user has.
As you can see, this particular workshop was full of amazing information. It was one of those workshops that was so informative that I found myself typing up as many notes as I possibly could to help implement a few of the points in my own business. If I could go to this workshop again I would.
A little later that night we all headed over to La Sandia and Zengo for the opening night dinner networking reception. These restaurants were exclusively reserved for the event. I had the pleasure of enjoying my dinner with none other than Ron Jackson, Diana Jackson, Shane Cultra, Howard Hoffman and Kina Merdinian. Not only did I receive a second education in domaining, I had the chance to enjoy some amazing stories as well. To top it all off the food was extremely good.
Just to note, it took me a couple of days to type this blog entry. With all of the sessions and great events it truly is tough to cover this conference in its entirety. I’ll start typing up a recap for Wednesday today and hopefully I can have it up soon.
Here are a few pictures that I captured with my phone during the course of Webfest Global 2013. Make sure to revisit this blog entry in the near future as I will be updating it with more photos.
I’ve been having a blast at Webfest Global. The conference has been well worth my time and I am glad that I had the chance to attend it this year. Some of the networking opportunities have been priceless. The domain investment industry is continuing to evolve itself in entirely new ways. Although some may say domain investors are lazy, I’ve seen firsthand how this statement isn’t true.
If you are thinking about attending this conference in the future, stop thinking about it and make it happen. On a side note the activities at the event have taken up the majority of my time and my blog has taken a backseat. I should be finished with a blog entry covering my experiences on day one a little later today, so bare with me. For now, enjoy the list of names for today’s deleted domain picks!
carmountingkit.com – Use this name to create a site which features every type of car mounting kit on the market.
expressionville.com - Add this strong keyword to your collection of ville domains.
negotiatingyourfuture.com – This name has marketing potential written all over it. Who doesn’t want to be involved in negotiating their future? As a fair warning, I just might register this name.
pimpmynightlife.com – You’ve already pimped your car, now it’s time to pimp your nightlife. A name like this is just waiting for a company focused on nightlife to develop it.
salesmeme.com – Memes are extremely popular. Use this name to create a meme site which features sales memes. This keyword phrase receives 91 exact local monthly searches and 110 exact global monthly searches.
stemcellsmedicine.com – At first I wasn’t going to add this name to the list, but it ended up growing on me. The phrase stem cells medicine receives 28 exact global monthly searches.
tntlist.com – David Eccles just might want to register this name.
waytoclearskin.com – A name like this would be perfect for an affiliate site. It is easy to remember and speaks for itself.
Webfest Global officially starts tomorrow but there were a vast amount of networking opportunities for attendees tonight. As soon as I arrived at the Fairmont Hotel I had the chance to revisit with a few people and network with a couple of new faces. Although I live in Los Angeles, I can say that getting in town the day before this event is well worth it. I met a few folks from different regions of the world and learned a number of things about the domaining industry that I consider to be extremely valuable.
It’s a little late and I’m going to cut this post short. I look forward to the adventures ahead and can’t wait to share them with you. Have a good night!
- Jason Thompson on The Art Of Forgetting About Your Domain Portfolio
- Matt on One Of My Favorite Domaining Blogs Returns: DotWeekly.com
- viqi on The Art Of Forgetting About Your Domain Portfolio
- Adi Weitzman on Poll Results: Are You Buying Or Selling?
- AbdulBasit Makrani on Poll Results: Are You Buying Or Selling?
- Affiliate Marketing
- Domain Development
- Domain News
- Press Release
- Southern California Domainers