About a year ago, I was browsing through my news feed when I came across an article on an “ultra-rare” houseplant that people were paying a small fortune for. I’m not much of a plant-guy to be honest. I like plants and all, but I’ve struggled to keep a small cactus alive when I was a college student and my thumb hasn’t gotten any greener in the decades that have passed since then. In fact, I currently have one house plant that I constantly forget to water and it seems like more of a form of plant torture that I am engaging in, keeping this plant (named Chuck) constantly at the edge of death, but somehow never actually allowing it to cross over to the other-side.
The article I came across featured a plant by the name of Monstera Obliqua (fancier name than Chuck). What caught my attention was not that this was a rare plant, but that people were paying up to 4 figures for the plant, and sometimes that was just for a cutting that would eventually propagate into a mature plant. Sounds risky to me, but what do I know, I’m a domain investor.
Sometime after reading the article about the plant, which has a leaf that looks like a family of caterpillars have been feasting on it, I stumbled across another article on houseplants and this one was about how to grow Monstera Deliciosa. Then another on the question asking if Monstera Borsigniana was a true species or just another name for the plant. Where do they get these names? I’m no genius but I started to recognize a trend here. People are paying a lot of money for a plant with a bunch of holes in it.
I began to weigh my botanical options.
- Do I try to grow and sell these weeds and compete with the likes of Shane Cultra who was actually raised in the wild by plants and understands them better than anyone? Or…
- See if there are any decent domains available?
Looking over at my brown, dry, wilted friend Chuck desperately attempting to extract moisture from the air, I opted for option 2. I figured, if this plant was so popular, a related domain name had to have some value as well and the chance of it actually dying under my care was slim, although possible.
I searched for the obvious domains to see what was available to be hand registered. I wasn’t looking to invest in an after market name because, clearly, this is not a topic in which I have any expertise. I tried “Monstera Obliqua” then “Monstera” and “Obliqua” hoping to unearth a virgin dot com. No luck. Someone was already ahead of me on this quest.
Next I tried “Monstera Adansonii,” a plant I had read about in one of the articles that can look very similar to the Monstera Obliqua. The dot com was available. Any expert will tell you there are some very key differences between the two plants, price being a significant one. Even so, I hand registered the name.
Looking at the name after I registered it, I’ll be honest, I thought, “How do you even say that out loud.” My purchase had failed the first rule of a good domain name: if it’s a word, you should be able to easily pronounce it. Alright, that may not be the first rule, but it’s not a bad rule to go by. However, this is a niche domain name and there are plenty of people interested in these plants that can pronounce this with ease.
I hand registered the name on GoDaddy so I used the integrated Afternic domain marketplace to list it for sale a couple of months later. I chose a price in the low 4 figures. The logic? If someone would pay that much for a plant, they would certainly pay that for domain name. I then moved on and didn’t give it another thought. You could say that I planted a seed and waited for it to grow.
Fast forward almost a year later, I received an email with an offer for the name. All said and done the name went for just over $2,200. I’m not claiming this is a huge sale, and does not make me the poster boy for domaining. In fact, it’s a modest sale, and could be considered average if you develop a decent eye for hand registering domain names.
When I started domaining, I used to feel that reselling a hand reg for a few hundred dollars was only fair, I mean, I paid less than $10, right? My philosophy has changed over the years for several reasons. One reason is that for every hand reg I sell, there are several that do not and take several years or I eventually drop them. I consider those drops just investments in the process. Similar to a salesman that has to visit 10 potential customers before one makes a purchase. It’s just what it takes to do business. Overhead.
What hand regs have you been able to effortlessly able to flip?