What’s Happening with the $900,000 Great.com

Erik Bergman Great.com

“I am really, really good at making money…” is the opening line of Erik Bergman’s video on Great.com. The video from the 30-year-old Swedish entrepreneur tells of how he made $15 Million in one day on his 28th birthday. While the feeling was great, it didn’t last long. He soon asked, “Is there anything more?” The landing page states that he paid $900,000 for his name Great.com, which is the sales price listed on namebio.com for confirmation. I recall first reading about this sale on TheDomains.com back in January.

A friend told him about a charity project in Western Africa to teach kids about computers. As Erik tells the story of the school, there is a real sense of passion for these kids and their well being. He began to think about how he could contribute. He decided that he should do what he does well… make money. And give that money away. Great.com will be all about making money and giving it away.

Mike: Erik, lets back things up and start with your business that you sold on your 28th birthday. What was that business and how did you manage to build it into a $15 million-dollar company?

Erik: Sure, the company is called Catena and it’s a very big affiliate company working in several different verticals, most is focused on SEO and PPC but there is also a lot of Facebook, email and media buying involved.

Everything started out more like a playful hobby than a big fancy business plan. It was me and my childhood friend Emil in his parents’ basement. We started a small web agency and helped local companies with their websites. This never took off though and we were struggling to stay in business. Instead we started building affiliate websites about online bingo and pretty soon this became our main business.

This was back in 2008 and until 2012 it was more or less just me and Emil. We were doing everything ourselves and it was just as much focus on playing around and testing new things as it was about building a company. We became fairly successful in all kinds of niches and were selling everything from insurances to business cards, hotel nights to fashion, main one was still bingo though.

In 2012 we restructured everything and sold half of the business to an investment company. They came in with a lot of knowledge of how to build a proper organization, how to scale and how to set bigger goals. 2013 became the year when we hired like crazy, took on far too much costs and almost went bankrupt. The results I was planning for didn’t show and I was stressed out of my life.

Late 2013 things finally turned around and 2014-2015 became really good years for us. We went from 12 employees in 2013 to 80 I 2015 and in February 2016 we went to the stock market. All in all, the company was then valued at about $200 million.

Mike: Are you working now or is Great.com your 100% committed passion?

Erik: I stopped working in Catena 31st December 2017 so now Great.com is going to be my 100% passion. I’m not going all in from day 1 though. The journey with Catena took a lot of my energy so I want to make sure I am in really good shape both physically and mentally before I go all in again. I was very close to being burned out during the most hectic years and I don’t want to make that mistake again.

Mike: What is your vision for Great.com? Can others get involved?

Erik: The vision with Great is to build a for-profit company that gives everything away. I want to create a workplace for everyone to use their best skills and till add a purpose to it. A designer working in a regular company is just making designs, a designer working in a company that gives away all profits away, is making designs AND saving lives. I want to create something where tech people can utilize their best skills, still earn money as if they were working in a regular company AND do something truly meaningful.

There will be plenty of room for others to get involved. At this stage the best thing is to do exactly what you are doing now Mike, get the story out. Down the line there will be tons of other options so keep an eye on Great.com to see what shows up. There will be more info pretty soon and I’m setting up an email list where people can follow the updates.

Mike: Have you ever purchased a premium domain name before? Did you know what to expect?

Erik: I’ve bought several high value domains but nothing close to this. I’ve been involved in several different deals between $10-40 000. This was actually very similar to that regarding how the negotiations etc. were done. However, my heartbeat was drastically different!

Negotiations in general are the same regardless what is being bought and it’s the same emotions that are being triggered. I remember the first important site I bought back in 2011. It was for roughly $40 000 and I was just as emotionally involved in that one as I was in the $200 million IPO.

Mike: You spent $900,000 on this name. Why not just donate that money and call it a day?

Erik: It’s a very valid question. Probably the first one I would ask as well.

I want to create something that’s much, much bigger than a $900 000 donation can be. I am aiming for billions.

When that is my goal the name will be super important, and a $900 000 investment can be worth a lot more than that down the line. Anyone who is involved with domains know how big difference they can make. This is not just a domain, this is a brand, this is something that shows everyone that I’m taking this very seriously.

Mike: Tell me what it’s like to shop and purchase a domain of this caliber. Can you walk us through how you selected this name and the purchase process that followed?

Erik: As I mentioned above, it’s fairly similar to buying any other domain. It’s just a few more zeros on the transaction.

I really wanted a name that everyone had positive connotations to. That would work for any industry and for anything. That would be good for both a charity and for a for-profit company. For me “Great” is a word that meets all those criterions and at the same time it’s easy to spell, easy to remember and everyone even if they don’t have English as their native language knows what it means.

The negotiations started with an email before I even knew about the auction. I put in the big far lower than I thought they would accept. They went far higher than I would pay and then we took it from there. Just as if it was a $1000 domain. We didn’t manage to find a deal so when I found out about the auction I felt like this was my time!
Mike: Are you concerned at all that running a site for charity may be different than running a business?

Erik: No, not at all. If we would be in need of donations I would be worried but now we won’t be. Instead I’m very excited about being able to work for a purpose myself but also to be able and provide this for anyone else who will get involved. I think it will be a lot easier to find great people when they feel that they can be a part of something big!

Mike: Your opening line in the video is a bold one. I am really, really good at making money. In your opinion , is that a skill that you either have or don’t have or is it a skill that can be learned?

Erik: Yes, it’s a bold one. I want to be a charity like nothing else so then it will be important to stand out.

When it comes to making money, this is definitely something that can be learned. Like everything else. I would however start with something unconventional – happiness. Start by learning about emotions and what it takes to be positive. Personal development guru Tony Robbins talk a lot about these things. I believe that it’s a lot easier to make money if you have a positive view on people and on life than if you don’t. If you manage to be positive you might care a lot less about the money as well but still have a great life.

I spend a lot of my time practicing gratitude and positive vibes. I think that’s one of my biggest strengths – and it has definitely helped me a lot in business!

Mike: That sounds great! If the readers want to find out more about you and the project, what can they do?

Right now, there isn’t much info on Great.com but there will be pretty soon. In the meantime, they can visit my personal site ErikBergman.se. It will give a much better image of who I and what my views are on life. It will paint a better picture of my vision and ambition with Great as well.

Thank you very much for having me Mike!

Tis the season to beware of scammers

What a great time of year. Kids are all looking forward the gift giving season and getting a couple of weeks off of school.  Parents are all working hard trying to get everything in order for the holidays, waiting for the holiday bonus, cashing in their bitcoin, shopping  for the kids and maybe selling an extra domain or two before the year comes to an end.

Speaking of domains, lucky for us there is Kenta Fujimoto.  Kenta, sent an offer that far exceeded the value of the domain name he was inquiring about (first red flag).

Domain Scam Email

When I visit the domain name on the actual email address, I get a warning…

Beware of domain scams

I thought this would make a educational blog post so I countered with “Sure, let’s proceed with the sale.  We use Escrow.com.”  

My good fellow returns the following, informing me that I must follow this sketchy link to buy a sketchy certificate to conduct this sketchy sale.  Sounds a little sketchy if I do say so myself.

domain con

I follow his Google Answers link (which I believe the service was discontinued like 11 YEARS AGO!) and a fine copy of a Google Answers page is returned with a not so Google URL.  This guy really puts a lot of faith in dot info.

dishonest domainer

When it comes to con artists, I’ll admit I love the stories behind the great ones.  Charles Ponzi, Frank Abagnale.  I get what they did isn’t cool but intellect behind it is fascinating.  Not so in this case.

I have responded to the one known as “Kenta” asking for an interview on domain scamming.  Could be interesting.  But in the mean time, keep an eye on your domains and as hard working entrepreneurs, I trust you have more sense then these people trying to swindle you out of the money you earned for yourself and your family.

If you ever find something questionable, ask.  Ask me.  Ask your favorite blogger (which again, could be me). Ask a domain forum.  Don’t rush into anything that makes you feel the least bit uncomfortable.

 

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The Domain Sales Email that Caught my Eye

domain sales email

My email inbox certainly could have gone without seeing this email come through and still lived a clean and happy life.  But life isn’t fair and sometimes we can’t protect the ones we love from the harsh reality of the world.  Alright, I’m getting carried away, I don’t love my inbox.  I mean, I like it a lot, but love is a strong word.

Yesterday, I received an email offering a domain for sale.  I’m not easily offended, but lets keep it clean here.  The TLD was dot io, which is popular among some startups.  In this case, the the domain name was #ocks.io and let’s say it rhymes with socks.  Roosters are often referred to by this name… among other things.

The point of this post is not the domain name itself, but the email that represented it.  The email wasn’t particularly well written.  In fact, the salutation stated “Dear Paul King.”  Clearly all recipients were referred to as Paul King (sorry Paul).  What caught my eye was what I consider to be the most important aspect of a sales email.  The title.

I opened my inbox to find about 20 new emails.  When I quickly scanned the list, one jumped out at me.  “Here’s How to Acquire #ocks.io”

I wasn’t actively looking to purchase this name and I don’t even own any dot io names.  But it did get my interest.  Looking back I tried to analyze why that caught my attention.  Obviously one reason is because I am a domainer.  But beyond that, it had me thinking… this email is about to tell me something.

If I were an end user, I would be more likely to open this email than if it simply stated the domain name as the title, or even the key words as the title.  This title presupposes that I am already interested in the name. That I want to acquire it.  I’m no psychologist or marketing guru, but I would bet that framing the title in this way introduces some sort of bias toward wanting the name.  Not some magical hypnosis that tricks you into purchasing the name, but a subtle hint that would convince an end user to at least open the email, which is more than half the battle.

Getting your email read is difficult.  Probably 80% of the email I get I don’t even open. Maybe more.  It’s not even all spam.  Some of it is from legit things I sign up for and still never read, so getting to the top of the heap of mail isn’t easy.  I do plan to give this title a shot, with a more well thought out body text than what I received.    I’ll let you know if I see any noticeable results.

Follow up on my experience with Efty

Here is a follow up on my experience with Efty, the domain management platform.  Shortly after interviewing Doron, I started my free trial on the site.  I added just one domain name to my account there.  It was a hand registered name that I purchased within the past year, and admittedly, it was a pretty good name.  There are at least two books that share the same title and it’s a name I’m considering using to launch another blog.  The interesting point is, within a week, I received a serious inquiry, generated by my Efty landing page, from one of the book authors that shares the name.

She was very interested in the name.  We went back and forth a few times and I had a minimum value in mind that we just couldn’t agree on.  It’s a name that I decided I wasn’t going to let go of easily because I have a vision for it.  Will I ever act on that vision?  I don’t know, but I see more value in it than I was being offered.  The deal didn’t happen.  But it gave me some excitement around the potential for Efty.

Based on my single experience with one name (and a good name at that), I decided to add about 50 other hand registered names to Efty.  I went in knowing that the first name I listed was the best of the lot, but I wanted to see what type of results I got with even more names listed.  I quickly added the names and went about my business.  About three weeks passed with no activity.  I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.   I wasn’t expecting miracles.

Then I received another offer sent via my landing page for a domain I hand registered just three months earlier.  It was a name I registered based on an idea I was kicking around with some friends.  One I wasn’t as attached to.  After some back and forth, we agreed on $1,500.  The buyer paid me through PayPal and I transferred the domain through GoDaddy.  Transaction took all of 30 minutes to complete.

Another week goes by and a new offer comes in on a name I registered a couple years back.  I’m still in negotiations on this name so I won’t go into too much detail.  The offer came in through my Efty landing page.

My luck has pretty good in the short time that I’ve been using Efty.  The service paid for itself, and then some, with that first sale.  It’s easy to use, easy to update, and has some great features.  In fact I’m not even using all of the features yet.   I attribute the activity to the visually pleasing landing pages that allow for communication between the buyer and seller.  There are no annoying links to suggested sites based on your domain name.  It’s clean and simple.

I’ll continue to report on my progress with Efty over the coming months.  If you have any experiences to share, please leave a comment to share with the rest of us.

 

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Tough Domains

Toughdomains

Tim Koutroubas is the founder of ToughDomains.com.  Tim and I have been exchanging emails for a couple of months as we’ve discussed the ToughDomains platform.  ToughDomains.com offers Domain Parking, Sales Pages, Portfolio Management and more.  Tim and I talked a little bit about the site and what it offers.

 

Mike:  What inspired you to launch ToughDomains.com?

ToughDomains:  We saw a need in the industry to consolidate the “Domain Cycle”.

The “Domain Cycle” is Discovering / Buying, Managing the Portfolio, Earning Revenue, and eventually Selling the domain.

Domain Cycle

There are many services that address each part of the domain cycle individually.  Some services are easy to use while others require a high level of technical expertise and /or  cost.  We wanted to create an affordable Free to Premium based platform that addresses each portion of the domain cycle with an easy to use hosted execution.

 

Mike:  How many domains would you say are currently supported by the platform?   Roughly how many members?

ToughDomains:  The platform currently supports thousands of domains and hundreds of users in an open beta.  Currently, we are releasing major updates that are addressing our users wishes and requests.

 

Mike:  You have a tiered pricing plan, but your first tier is free up to 20 domains.  This is great for people who want to test it out before committing to a monthly payment.  What benefit does your platform have over parking services or other competitors in this space?

ToughDomains:  Feature flexibility is a key differentiator for us.  We allow you to use our software by itself or in conjunction with your current solutions.  Some of our differentiators include:

• Instant Domain Development- Allows you to connect premium multipage content to hundreds of domains in minutes.

• Ad Network Integration- We currently integrate with two ad networks (with more to come) including AdSense.  Simply inter your publisher ID and start earning revenue.

• Domain Analytics- We provide domain level traffic data that includes hits, referring URLs, and country of origin.  Must have information before selling the domain.

• Multiple Public Portfolios-  Create a portfolio of all your domains or a custom curated list of only the domains requested by a buyer.

• Domain Insights and Portfolio Management- Free Registrar, Expiration Date & Admin Email are currently available. Later this month, full portfolio management such as entering buy and sell info, net profit, domain valuation & various ranking metrics will be available in dashboard.

• Free Bulk Name Server Redirect- Redirect hundreds of names to a single domain or your own offer form.

• Commission Free Sales Pages- Unlike many other services we offer a Zero commission sales page.

 

Mike:  The live demos on your site showed me three options.  A sales page that was clean and simple.  A news page that looked like it might have some configurable content.  Finally a portfolio page which was a simple list of names for sale.  Are any of these more successful than the others?  Do you find the news pages get indexed by Google?

ToughDomains:  Our Instant Domain Development, Sales Pages, and name server Redirects are by far our most popular domain tools.  Our founding members have existing SEO expertise and we are leveraging this knowledge to increase traffic to the domains.  We are indeed seeing SEO benefits to domains using our instant domain development tool.

 

Mike:  Is there any PayPal integration or is the sale just through email correspondence and the buyer and seller work out the details.

ToughDomains:  Currently, we offer email correspondence.  However, integration to the most popular escrow services is currently under development and to be released soon.  We believe a non-direct payment option within an escrow environment is the safest solution for both buyers and sellers.  We are not sure the ecosystem is ready for a direct to purchase model.

 

Mike:  The site states “Keep 100% of the Domain Sell Price -Zero Commission Paid on any of the domains you sell! ”  My question is… how do you make any money to support the site?

ToughDomains:  We are domainers and like many domainers we do not believe in collecting a commission for a non-brokered direct inquiry of your domain.

We have 3 revenue models:

• As needed premium subscription revenue.

• Ad Supported model for content hosted for our free users.

• We are currently developing a third revenue model that we will be releasing in Q1 2017.