Emoji Domains – What do you think?

Emoji Domain

Emoji domains did not capture me at it’s introduction nor has it become one of my passions.  But hell, domaining didn’t capture me at its introduction either, which is why people call me “Sully” and not “The Domain King.”  So I am not passing any judgement.  I reached out to these three entrepreneurs after seeing numerous tweets about emoji domains and I wanted to learn more about them.  Fellow blogger Alvin Brown dug into this back in January, and did a great job of uncovering information.  But, as always, I have questions of my own.  Let me kick things off by stating for the record that I don’t own a single emoji name… yet.

Emoji Empires is made up by its three co-founders, Michael Rasmussen, Eric Thoni, and Tanner Schenck.  The three partners have collaborated on this interview as they wanted it to come across as one voice.  That voice is Emoji Empires.

 

Mike:    As co-founders, how did the three of you meet and what brought you together on this mission?

Emoji Empires:  After attending elementary, middle, and high school together, we went our separate ways to some of the nations top institutions, obtaining degrees in various specialties to include; International Business, Marketing & Advertising, and Business Economics. After college, we made our way into respective jobs, putting our college degrees to use, but always possessing a passion for entrepreneurism.

The concept and introduction to Emoji domains was made by good friend and successful Emoji domain investor, Matan Israeli. After much consideration and planning, we instantly saw a huge opportunity for Emoji domains as a new powerful marketing tool to promote brands and businesses. Emoji Empires was founded in search of innovative marketing and branding strategies on the forefront of technology and communication. We believe Emoji Empires was our perfect entrance into entrepreneurism and introducing the world to something meaningful and ‘bigger than ourselves.’ We have attended multiple domain conferences to introduce Emoji Empires and spread the idea of Emoji domains to industry professionals and the world. We have received great feedback and ideas from many different individuals, which has continued to drive us on this new and uncharted path.

 

Mike: I haven’t really followed the emoji domain trend until now.  When did it begin and how is the growth?

Emoji Empires:  Emoji Empires began registering Emoji domains as early as January 2017, when we saw the unique and innovative opportunity to bring change to the domain industry. Emoji Empires was one of the first large portfolio owners involved with Emoji domains, with a couple others scattered throughout the world. After a couple months of holding our domains and waiting on potential buyers, we realized that this was going to be much different than the current domain resale market. Emoji Empires has been focused on the education and promotion of  Emoji domains, as we believe it will benefit all Emoji domain portfolio investors, companies, and individuals.  Currently the emoji domain market is saturated with sales between domain investors. Emoji Empires has a different business approach with our unique contacts and networking capabilities, we have successfully educated, promoted, and marketed emoji domains to end users. The growth of emoji domains are only inevitable due to the growing increase of usage via messaging and social media. Emojis are not going away anytime soon as they are everywhere.

The earliest registration of emoji domains began in 2001. On April 19, 2001, the first three emoji domains were registered. The process of registering an emoji domain back in 2001 was a very complicated process that very few knew how to do. In 2001, emoji popularity as we see them being used today was nonexistent. Reason being the Iphone did not make its debut until 2005 when emojis made their worldwide debut. So the early adopters is not where the trend begins because only a few individuals had the idea to combine emoji with domains. The emoji domain space really took off n 2015, when Coca-Cola launched a South American advertising campaign using www. 😀.ws. In 2016, John Roig launches ❤❤❤.ws, which provided an easy to use platform for registering emoji domains that once was a strenuous process.

 

Mike:  Tell me about your emoji consulting service.  What are some examples of how you help businesses?

Emoji Empires:  We provide Emoji domain consulting for companies and brands who are unfamiliar with Emoji and are looking to integrate them into their new or current marketing strategy.  Emoji Empires also provides marketers with domain support, best practices for social media, and development of strategies on how to use an Emoji domain to maximize its potential.

We currently have multiple companies involved in our “Try Before You Buy” program; which allows businesses to use any of our domains in our portfolio to ‘test’ the domain out to see if it works within their companies vision and goals. We have received great feedback on this program, as it provides a new and exciting tool for companies to ‘try’ Emoji domains and it doesn’t require any payment or long-term contracts.

 

Mike:  How do emoji domains really work?  What happens if new emojis are created?  Don’t different platforms, take smartphones for example, use different emojis?

Emoji Empires: “Each emoji character is represented by some universal sequence of characters called Unicode, which is an international programming standard that allows one operating system to recognize text from another operating system.” (http://unicode.org/emoji/). When you type (😀👑.ws) into your web browser, the browser translates the emoji portion of the domain name into its IDN (in this case xn--2p8h30a.ws), looks up the domain name system information, and then loads the associated website. In this case we are using that Emoji domain as a 301 redirect to our primary website www.emojiempires.com.

Indeed, new emojis are created every year through a governed and strict process of the Unicode consortium, which is made up of large companies, as well as individuals including the three co-founders of Emoji Empires. “The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit corporation devoted to developing, maintaining, and promoting software internationalization standards and data, particularly the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in all modern software products and standards.” Every year Unicode introduces about 100-150 new Emoji characters.  Once Unicode sets the new ‘standard’ every company that offers an Emoji keyboard (Apple, Google, Facebook, Windows, Samsung, etc.) must then design their version of that Emoji character. The important thing to note is that regardless of the platform or operating system mentioned above, the underlying code & domain name are consistent across all platforms. So, 😀👑.ws will always be xn--2p8h30a.ws regardless of the device or platform being used. You can see the full Unicode list here.

 

Mike:  Do you have any data or examples around resale of premium emoji names?

Emoji Empires:  Mike Cyger (DNAcademy) has compiled a detailed guide to Emoji domains which includes a list of “premium” emoji domain resale numbers.

Emoji Empires took part in the first ever Emoji domain auction on NameJet.com this past December 2017.  The highest domain sold during the auction was “😎.ws” for USD $3,100.  We expect to see more Emoji auctions on NameJet this year and are currently working with them and Emoji domain investors around the world to continue these specific auctions.

 

Mike:  Are there any examples of big business leveraging these names?

Emoji Empires: Currently, there are a number of big businesses using Emoji domains including Budweiser (❤🍺.ws), Sony Pictures (😊🎬.ws), and Phoenix Rising (🔥.ws). These brands are early adopters to Emoji domains, using them only as redirects to their primary websites. Once consumer awareness increases, big businesses will realize the many opportunities for Emoji domains within their already existing marketing and advertising efforts.

In addition to large brands, we have seen multiple startup businesses using Emoji domains including Weapon Depot (🔫.ws), Rekindle Candles (♻🕯.ws), and Renee’s Raw (💚🍫.ws).  Weapon Depot recently announced plans to develop the pistol emoji domain (🔫.ws) into an open source Emoji URL shortener, with the intent to share the pistol Emoji domain with the entire hunting, camping & fishing communities.

Emoji Empires believes there are many ways for businesses to leverage Emoji domain names, and we want to be the leading Emoji domain company implementing Emoji domains globally.

EVERYONE SPEAKS EMOJI.

 

Mike:  Could emoji be a trend or just be a fad or is it here for the long haul?  Why?

Emoji Empires:  The widespread popularity of the Emoji language gives people an easier way to express emotion and communicate globally. Businesses have embraced Emoji in marketing & advertising to further connect their brand with new and existing customers. The Emoji domain era is in its infancy, but like mentioned above, once big brands and consumer awareness increases, will we see a real Emoji domain adoption. Emoji domains are short & memorable, transcend language, and stand out as a marketing tool to increase brand recognition and create customer acquisition, like never done before.

 

 

 

Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry

domain broker

Dave Evanson is the Senior Sales and Brokerage Consultant for Sedo.com, the world’s largest domain aftermarket and monetization platform. He specializes in identifying and presenting domain name and website investment opportunities for corporate clients plus negotiating high-end exclusive sales for the purchase and sale of super-premium internet assets.

I’ve wanted to interview Dave for sometime.  He’s not only an impressive broker with some serious sales under his belt, he’s also one that always comes across as professional, and gives the industry a good name.

 

Mike: Dave, how did you get into the domain brokerage business?

Dave: It all began right after I bought my first domain. I had founded a global, marketing and strategic planning consulting firm about 35 years ago. In the late 1990s one of our clients was (and still is) a multinational financial services corporation. A couple of my consultants were preparing a power point presentation for the client and gave it to me to review. While I was pleased with the slides on mutual funds, stocks, investment banking, etc., the slide on inheritance was light on content. I wanted to embellish it but didn’t know much about inheritance so I went to the emerging web (formerly referred to as The Super Information Highway) for help. Not much there (yet) so I bought the inheritance.com domain in the aftermarket that afternoon with grandiose ideas for development. Within the next year I had about 5,000 domains. I was already gaining experience in buying and selling domains. In 2006, I began attending domain conferences and I submitted a few hundred domains to an auction. Over 60 of them sold and I realized both domain brokerage and auctions work synergistically and represent a career change opportunity for me. I was already brokering for some friends and clients but there weren’t enough hours in the day. While I was preparing to close my management consulting firm to concentrate on domain brokerage full time I was also on a few boards (including Afternic’s Advisory Board). In late 2010 I closed the firm, resigned from the boards, and joined Sedo so I could broker full time with the support and backing of the leading global brokerage and marketplace company.

 

Mike: You’ve been involved in countless domain sales, what have been of your largest?

Dave: As you know, most $100,000 plus sales are not made public due to NDAs. I have been involved in over 300 six and seven figure sales over the years but most are confidential. A few I can mention that are $250,000 or more are: MM.com ($1,200,000), Furniture.co.uk ($650,000), Give.com ($500,000), Webhosting.co.uk ($500,000), Jobs.ca ($450,000), Broker.com ($375,000), True.com ($350,000), DJI.com ($300,000), Spend.com ($275,000), Grid.com ($275,000), Moms.com ($252,000) and Flashcards.com ($250,000).

 

Mike: Sedo boasts “Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry.” Has it been a difficult journey building up your contacts, reputation, and success? Any secrets to your success?

Dave: I wouldn’t say it has been a particularly difficult journey. Rather, I would say it has been a long journey involving many years of hard, dedicated work. Building contacts and reputation takes time, trust and luck. It also takes diligence, persistence, honesty and drive. I have been blessed with years of job positions, projects, assignments and engagements leading to professional relationships with nearly one thousand successful business people, many of whom I go back to when looking for leads to sell a premium domain in their industry or professional network. I am very proud (and lucky) to personally know so many senior corporate executives and business leaders.
I try to put my focus on my clients and their needs. I try to communicate with them through the channels and methods they use to communicate with me. I work very hard to get them the highest prices for the domains they are selling. When I am hired to help them buy domains my full attention goes towards finding and negotiating the best prices for them. If you deliver for your clients, they will refer business to you in the future.

 

Mike: Do you have a favorite domain story you can share?

Dave: Well there is one but I am unable to mention the domain. It sold for $125,000 in a confidential sale. I was working for the seller. He was very difficult, demanding and even condescending at times. I found the buyer who made the seller look like an easy going, fun loving person who I’d get a beer with anytime. As the negotiations began I questioned myself as to whether or not I could facilitate a deal with these two extreme personalities. Not only that but they were from different countries with different cultures and accepted practices. It seemed to be beyond challenging to say the least but I wanted to get the deal done. There were ups and downs but we were moving along with several back and forth offers and counteroffers. Then, a comment from the buyer set the seller off and the seller began countering with higher prices which caused the buyer to lower his offer a couple of times. I thought I’d wait a day or two to let them calm down. Instead the seller was skyping and emailing me with complaints about a buyer who was lowering his offers. The seller didn’t think it was relevant that he started raising prices first. The buyer kept calling me and he seemed to have plenty of time on his hands to complain about the seller (my client). This negotiation was really wearing me down. I tried a shot of scotch, a workout at the gym, a chapter in a good book but I couldn’t get the negotiation off my mind. Anyway, the only thing I could think of was to ask seller and buyer to role play. I asked seller to think like buyer and buyer to think like seller. After a short conversation with both sides they resumed offers and counter offers from where they were before they started bidding in opposite directions with seller going higher and buyer going lower in the middle of the negotiation. The next day we had agreement on price.

 

Mike: What should a domainer know prior to hiring a broker for assistance in selling a domain name?

Dave: The seller should have a good understanding of what the broker is going to do to get the domain sold for the highest price. The seller should know about commissions and any other fees plus how long the agreement is in place. Seller should know what to do if someone contacts him about the domain and how the broker will provide feedback during the engagement.

 

Mike: How can an end user benefit from working with a domain broker to purchase a name?

Dave: The end user may know the exact domain name they want. They may not. If they don’t the broker should be able to help with name suggestions. Either way the broker can hide the end user’s identity and probably negotiate a lower price. The end user may not be able to track down the owner(s). Brokers know how to do that. The end user may not wish to negotiate. The broker has a better chance of getting the domain and can save the end user time and money.

 

Mike: While you focus on the cream of the crop domain names, what advice do you have for those that are working on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to selling domains?

Dave: Everyone has to start somewhere. I started delivering newspapers after school on my bicycle when I was 11. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Read domain blogs. Join domain forums. Do some valuations. List names on marketplaces such as Sedo. Go to conferences. Meet and develop relationships with other domainers and brokers. Try some auctions. Do some basic targeted outreach (such as email/phone/social media). Use an escrow service. Try to scale.

 

Mike: What is your opinion on the flood of newer TLDS that have hit the market? Is that a new opportunity of just some noise in the background?

Dave: I`ve brokered some premium new domains and Sedo sold a ton over the marketplace. Startups are grabbing them. Some large established companies are investing in them. It’s an ongoing process with some making good progress and taking hold. Dot com is still king but the landscape is gradually becoming more interesting.

Online Jobs – Does country code even matter?

domain names

John Jonas is an internet marketer and the founder of onlinejobs.ph.  He is known as the guy to go to for how to replace themselves and live the 17-hour work week. He’s all about spending as little time working as needed, and spending more of that time with family, golfing, and helping others live the lifestyle he lives.

 

Mike:  What gave you the idea to create an a resource for finding virtual assistants and other workers online?  

John:  I created it for myself!  In 2008 there wasn’t a good way to find people in the Philippines.  I was frustrated with having to go through a service and being at the mercy of what someone else thought was a good fit for my business.  I wanted a way where I could decide for myself who is the best person, as well as not pay a 3x markup fee on someone’s salary every month. So I created what I wanted so I could find talented workers and have them work from home.

 

Mike:  Why specifically Filipino workers?

John: There’s a combination of 6 cultural attributes that makes the Philippines different from anywhere else in the world.

1. They’re very westernized.  They watch American movies and TV. Elementary school is often taught in english.  They think the way we do so communication isn’t an issue.

2. They’re honest. My workers have access to my credit cards, bank account, paypal account, personal email… They don’t want to steal from you. They just want to work for you.

3. They’re loyal almost to a fault. If you treat them well, they’ll never quit. Even when they get a job offer from someone else making much more, they’ll keep working for you. This changes our commitment level towards teaching them.

4. They’re very well educated.

5. They have computers and internet access.  The internet isn’t super fast, but they all have access at home. This helps avoid typical outsourcing middleman markups.

6. They’re not entrepreneurial.  They don’t want to steal your ideas. They don’t want to steal your domain or your business or your software.  They just want a job.

When you combine all these cultural attributes you’re much more likely to have a better outsourcing experience with the Philippines than almost anywhere else in the world (including first world countries)

 

Mike: Your domain name, OnlineJobs.ph is a descriptive, keyword name.  When I searched “onlinejobs,” it was the first two results returned from Google.  That said, ph is a county code TLD for the Philippians.  Have you had any difficulty using dot ph with a US based target audience?

John:  Not really.  I mean, occasionally someone says “Wait… dot ph?”.  But usually people know that we only deal with the Philippines so .ph makes sense.

In terms of search engine rankings, we’ve never seen any issues with it.

Mike:  You also founded replacemyself.com.  Tell me a little bit about this and how it differs from online jobs.ph.

John:  ReplaceMyself.com was born out of people wanting to know how/why I was hiring Filipino workers.  I started teaching it and put the website together to deliver trainings to Filipino workers on behalf of their employers.

OnlineJobs.ph is the database where you find workers.  ReplaceMyself is where you learn how to find/hire/manage those workers.

Although…today most of the teaching I do from ReplaceMyself.com can be found on OnlineJobs.ph

Honestly…the training’s we’ve provided to VA’s at ReplaceMyself.com are a bit outdated right now.  We’ve mostly stopped doing it.  We’re currently re-inventing that training as part of OnlineJobs.ph

 

Mike:  Is it really possible to replace yourself?  I mean, can you really outsource the majority of your work and still be successful?

John:  Yes! I’ve been doing it for 12 years now.  I’ve worked about 17 hours/week for the last 8 years.  I’ve seen lots of other people do it. The key is to hire long-term people rather than project based or contract workers or freelancers.

The other key is to make decisions about what your business will do based on who has to do the work.  If you have to do the work, don’t take on that kind of business.
It’s not an overnight thing.  Hiring Filipino workers isn’t a magic bullet.  It requires effort.  But from everything I’ve seen over the years, hiring a Filipino VA gives you the best shot at lowering your workload in an affordable way.

 

Mike:  I imagine you outsource 🙂 this but how easy or difficult is it to launch and run an online business?

John:  It’s hard. It takes a lot of hard work.  Not physical labor, but thinking work.  And most people aren’t willing to do that much hard thought work.  They just want someone else to tell them exactly what to do step by step.  That kind of a business won’t succeed online very often.

In order to launch and run an online business you have to think through lots of processes.

And yes, I outsource everything except the thinking.  I do the thinking and people in the Philippines do the actual work.

 

Mike:  Are there any success cases you can share?  How would a guy like me replace myself?

John:  I see success stories all the time.  So often that they almost became commonplace for me.  Here are some more in depth case studies I did a while back:

http://www.replacemyself.com/philippines-outsourcing-case-study

as well as a few success stories we’ve published out of the thousands we’ve seen:

https://www.onlinejobs.ph/success-stories

There are really two keys to replacing yourself:

1. Hire someone in the Philippines to do something you are currently doing in your business.  Don’t outsource something you don’t know how to do.  “Insource” (bring someone into your company) from overseas and get them doing something you do know how to do.  Get something off your plate. The distinction between something you do and something you don’t know how to do is critical.  You can only replace yourself if you work on outsourcing things you DO know how to do.

2. Don’t expect success the first time.  Be willing to work with the person over and over until you get it right.  Not until “they” get it right.  Until YOU get it right with THEM doing the work.  It takes patience.

But once you get it right once, the second and third times are easier and easier.  Pretty soon you’ve gotten 2, 3, 10 hours back in your life.

 

Chili.com – Not what you would expect

chili domain

Giorgio Tacchia is the Founder, President and CEO of the CHILI.  CHILI is an European digital entertainment player.  In August 2017 CHILI launched the only Entertainment Centred Marketplace.  A transactional service which offers Cinema Previews, New Releases, a digital catalogue with over 50.000 films and TV Series, DVDs and Blu-Rays, Exclusive Gadgets and lots more.  CHILI provides its service on Smart TVs, Blu-Ray players, PCs, Tablets and Smartphones.  There are no monthly fees nor activation costs.  CHILI offers the widest range of titles with thousands of movies and TV Series, thanks to agreements with the most important production companies, local distributors and independent labels. Founded in June 2012, CHILI is controlled by its founding managers. Other shareholders of note are: Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, Warner Bros.

 

Mike:  Giorgio, what makes Chili.com different that other entertainment providers?

Giorgio:  CHILI represents the first entertainment centred marketplace that enhances the transactional experience, including first vision, cinema previews, news, information on cast, reviews, photos, clips and customer ratings on theatrical releases and also cinema ticketing and booking, movies’ merchandising and DVD/BluRay Disc. CHILI offers a wide range of titles with more than 50,000 movies and TV series, thanks to agreements with the most important Major Studios, local distributors and independent labels.

 

Mike:  What factors led you to selecting the name CHILI for your service?

Giorgio: At the beginning, we wanted to find a brand name which wasn’t directly related to movies, the digital distribution or internet. We liked the name CHILI because is international, easy to remember and easy to play with (like our section the chillest). Our domain name was initially CHILI.tv but we changed to CHILI.com in order to become more international and to emphasise our presence on all devices. It is also possible to represent CHILI with a self-explanatory icon, t’s a short name near the beginning of the alphabet.

 

Mike:  CHILI.com sounds like a really great service.  When I type in CHILI.com I’m greeted with the message “Sorry! CHILI Cinema is not yet available in your country. We are working to make it happen.”  Why is the service not yet available in the USA?  What is the primary market that you serve?

Giorgio:  CHILI was founded in 2012 in Italy as a pay per view-streaming platform for watching on demand movies and TV series, and thanks to the domestic success we extended the perimeter of distribution to Austria, Poland, Germany and the UK. Now we are focused on commercially launching the new platform in these countries which represent 60% of the European market. At the moment we are concentrating our efforts in Europe, to further extend distribution perimeters is one of our future goals and  we will definitely start with English speaking countries.

 

Mike:  Can you tell me how you acquired the domain name?  Was it a complex process?

Giorgio:  Easy process, just expensive!

 

Mike:  How has owning a premium name like CHILI severed your business needs?

Giorgio: For sure, at the beginning, having a brand name which doesn’t immediately bring to mind our services in phase where we are creating brand awareness has been complicated, on the other hand the name is intriguing and stimulates curiosity. Now in Italy, after 5 years, the brand notoriety has increased, overseas will catch up following the launch

 

Mike:  What type of traffic numbers do you see at CHILI.com on a monthly basis

Giorgio: We have reached more than 1.3 million clients and we are increasing 50/100k clients monthly.

 

Mike:  What are the types of hurdles you face as on online media business?

Giorgio:  At the end the hardest issue is to catch the consumer attention in a very competitive arena, consumers are targeted in many different ways but the time they have for media consumption doesn’t increase.

Finally the piracy still remains rampant even though the  quality is very low.

The Laughing Stock of Domains

laughingstock-comedy-logo

LaughingStock Comedy Company is the funniest company in business.

For over 20 years, members of LaughingStock have been lampooning America’s corporate culture at banquets, association meetings, customer fetes, trade shows and other special events. They have created comedy mayhem live on stage, on audio and video industrials and on-line.

LaughingStock’s success is a result of extensive background research into every single audience for whom they perform combined with quick-witted comedians taking and using audience suggestions during the performances. LaughingStock’s experienced actor/comedians are well schooled in improvisational comedy techniques and — armed with their background research — spontaneously create fun and funny scenes based on the work lives of the audience.

Mike: Dean, tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you first get involved with comedy? What has your comedic career looked like?

Dean: In 1979 I was on the radio in Portland, Maine as a morning “personality.” One day this guy comes in to promote his new comedy act opening at a local club. He was plugging a “media night” with free food and open bar. As a starving DJ, I – and the whole media community – went. That night “Abrams & Anderson” made its comedy-improv debut. I – nor the whole media community – had never seen anything like it. Especially the guy’s female partner. I knew from the first night she was an “it” girl. I returned several times and brought my friends. Over the next two years we became good friends as their act really took off. They started in the clubs moved on to fairs, festivals, colleges, associations and corporate events. In 1983 they asked me to join them as the world’s first “comedy roadie.” I took over the role of road manager, contributed as a writer and and taught them how to run a business. I started getting on stage a little bit in some of their sketches that required more than two people, eventually appearing in about half the act. Between 1983 and 1993 they migrated their focus to the corporate and association markets almost exclusively, traveling the nation and commanding decent fees. In 1993 the guy decided to head to Hollywood to pursue his dream of movie stardom. The “it” girl and I reformed the act with another partner and launched LaughingStock Comedy Company as an official trio. Oh yeah, along the way the “it” girl and I got married.

In 1998 we moved to Tucson, Arizona and in 1999 we lost our third partner and shrank back to a duo. We used other improv-actors from the local market and around the country to supplement our cast as we continued to present a trio. Business was good until 2008 when the big banks screwed the entire corporate entertainment industry by handing out bonuses and throwing lavish corporate meetings while the rest of the economy went down in flames. All that bad press just killed the idea of anyone having fun at a business meeting and anything other than a motivational speaker got dropped from the budgets.

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Of course, that’s what we saw looking back. It took five or six years before we realized our market had disappeared. I spent two years marketing and selling LaughingStock 40 hours a week with literally zero results. In the meantime my partner went back to school and got her Masters in Theatre Studies and got a part-time job as a Christian Education Director at her church. She was so good at it they encouraged her to get her certification to become a lay pastor. Which she did. Almost immediately she was offered a job as a pastor at a small church here in Tucson. And in the meantime I applied for Social Security benefits early as I needed the money. Apparently no one wanted to hire an ex-comedian in his 60’s.

In the last two years I have realized I am fully retired. And behind every successful retired man is a wife with a job in town. We do continue to perform pro bono shows for causes in which we believe, but the commercial aspect of our business has passed.

Mike: Let’s talk about your domain name. I love it. Laughing.com is short, descriptive, to the point, and puts a smile on your face. Did you purchase the domain from someone or were you the first to register it? If you purchased it, can you talk about the process you went through?

Dean: Sometime in the 90’s a guy came to the office and said we needed a web site. We said, “Okay! What’s a web site?” Actually we had been doing quite a bit of work for the tech industry in the Route 128 loop around Boston. I remember a top-level VP explaining the difference between hardware and software to us. Anyway, the guy says he’ll build it and all we have to pay for is hosting. When it came time to pick a domain name Laughingstock.com was taken. I think there was only .com, .edu and .gov available at the time. Laughing.com was available so we registered it. Later we registered laughingstock.info as a site dedicated to our speaker bureau partners who want a contact-free information delivery scenario.

Mike: Laughing.com is home to LaughingStock Comedy Company. As described in the opening paragraph’s, this is a business and a funny one at that. Tell us how you work with companies and what you bring to the table. Why hire LaughingStock Comedy Company?

Dean: Publicly we promoted ourselves as a improv group, but we learned early on that incorporating inside information to our sketches paid big dividends from the audiences. We essentially customized every performance. We would do extensive research on the group for whom we were performing. We conducted a long interview with our sponsor, conducted several phone call interviews with people who would actually be in the audience and asked for lots of materials from which we would glean little details about what the folks in the audience had to deal with day in and day out. We created sketches that allowed us to integrate suggestions from the audience with the background material we gathered in advance. Our goal was to have folks ask how long we had worked for the company. The material was that inside.

Comedy brings a lot of things to a successful meeting. A great comedy show is memorable. It helps make the other message deliverables memorable, too. Comedy is a great stress reliever. We performed for lots and lost of stressed out audiences, including one group of back-office workers getting laid off because of a merger. Comedy is a great reward, we performed for countless incentive programs and bonus reward audiences. Comedy can drive a message. With the ability to control our content we were able to deliver and/or support corporate messages in a fun way. Laughing makes you breathe and oxygenates your brain, leaving you more open to new information. And comedy is cathartic. I am most proud of performing for breast cancer survivors. Twice!

Mike: How much traffic do you receive on the site. I imagine you get quite a bit just from people typing in “laughing.com” to see what comes up.

Dean: I have no idea. I stopped getting metrics from my host several years ago.

Mike: Say something funny. Just kidding. Is there much competition in an industry like this?

Dean: Tons. When we started there were very few improv groups outside New York and Chicago. And even fewer clued into the corporate/association market. Now the world is lousy with them. I use that word purposely. Then there are the “theme” companies, specialty bands, DJ’s, impressionists, magicians, hypnotists, celebrities, celebrity look-alikes, circus acts, politicians, Olympic heroes, authors, photographers, faux speakers, TED talkers, the list goes on and on. In our peak years our best competition was Second City and the Capitol Steps.

Mike: Have you received unsolicited offers for the domain name? Would you ever consider selling? Can you tell us how much you have been offered?

Dean: We have received inquiries over the years. I used to reply it was for sale for “One Million Dollars!” Funny, no one ever got back to me on that. Then as business started declining, I’d ask what it was worth, but no one ever came back with a figure. Yes, I would consider selling it at a premium. The premium part is me being sentimental about what laughing.com represents in my personal and professional life.

Mike: I see there is a laughingstock.com, lughingstockcomedy.com, laughingstockcomedy.co.uk. Do you feel there can be any confusion across these domains?

Dean: Certainly. When the site first went live Laughingstock was on the first page Google return for a search for improv groups. But we never worried too much about the other domains. We considered our site as one giant brochure and marketed to potential clients by driving them to the site. I would say we never made more than 10% of our sales from folks who stumbled on our site. When we got the domain we were allowed one email address. We chose propaganda@laughing.com since there were three of us sharing an in-box, and we thought it was an interesting email address for folks to use to get more information about us. With the advent of social media I started using lol@laughing.com. In a sense, the email addresses were more important than the site itself.

Mike: You mentioned you are retired.  Laughing.com is currently says “under construction.” What can we expect in the near future?

Dean: As our business declined it made no sense to keep up the many aspects of maintaining the site: Updating the client list, list of engagements, letters of recommendation, new videos, photos, promotions, etc. So one day I pulled everything off except the video (which tells our whole story anyway) and posted that the site was under construction. We have no future plans for it.