Interview with Alex Drew from ODYS

This week Stefan sat down with Alex Drew, co-founder of ODYS, a platform for buying high-quality aged domain names.

The first half of the chat covers the world of domain investing in general, and the second half dives aged domains, which is Alex’s specialty.

In the chat, Stefan and Alex discuss:

  • How Alex got started in domain investing
  • What makes domain names such a great digital asset?
  • Why .com’s have stood the test of time, and remain the bitcoin of domains
  • Why emotion and scarcity makes valuing domains so tricky
  • What are the biggest marketplaces for buying & selling domain names
  • What is a “domain drop”, and how does it work? (Including redemption periods, grace periods, and expiry)
  • How Dropcatch and similar companies are hired to help catch prized domains from hundreds of thousands of drops each day.
  • How companies like Sedo, Afternic, and Dan.com obtain domains for their own marketplaces
  • Why domain investing is like venture capital: you need a large portfolio with a few big winners to survive
  • How domain investing has changed over the years
  • What aged domains are, exactly, and what makes them so valuable?
  • The value of a good backlink profile, and how aged domains fast-forward the painstaking process of building backlinks
  • The risks of buying a domain with a poor backlink profile
  • ODYS’s plans for opening their own marketplace
  • How their typical customer has changed over time
  • How domain names are the original NFTs
  • What factors help determine the “ODYS value”, including traffic, backlink profile, and other trust signals
  • How 301 redirects are an amazing way to harness a domain’s power
  • How ODYS is using logos to add even more value to their pre-owned domains
  • What the future holds for the world of domain investing

This episode is coupled with a newsletter issue: Investing in Domain Names

You can listen to the podcast through Spotify or YouTube.


[Stefan Von Imhof]

Welcome everyone. So, we cover a lot of assets here at Alternative Assets. One of the ones we’ve been slacking on a bit, is domains. Well, that ends today. Because our guest today is Alex Drew. Alex is the founder of ODYS, that’s O-D-Y-S – marketplace for buying aged domains. Domains that have a history and are chock full of valuable link juice. And Alex I have been working together for about a year now. He was actually our very first sponsor of the newsletter. Way back when we were on Substack. And we’re really excited to have – and we’re going to spend the first half of this podcast episode discussing domains. Why they are such an interesting and valuable alternative asset class. And we’ll spent the second half talking aged domains which is Alex’ speciality. It should be a great discussion. Without further ado. Alex welcome to the show.

[Alex Drew] 

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Absolutely. So, Alex where are you based?

[Alex Drew] 

So right now, I’m in Estonia, in Tallinn. The company which is the holding company for ODYS is also based in Estonia. And my background is basically just a passion for technology. I’ve been travelling a lot for the past ten years. And right now, I’m in Estonia. So, my mother is Eastern European, so I’ve kind of followed along and try to get back to the roots so to say. But in terms of the base, I’ve really just – I’ve been seeking for the Silicon Valley of Europe. And I found it in Estonia, in Tallinn. So, I decided to create a company here with my partners and co-founded ODYS. Which basically resembles my passion for domains throughout the last 20 years or so.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So cool. I must say, I absolutely love Tallinn. I only spent three or four days there a couple of years ago, but man I was blown away at how cool that city was. I definitely sense it’s becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe. It’s definitely one of those places that punches well above its weight. A ton of cool companies forming there, have formed there. I believe skype is from Estonia originally, is that right?

[Alex Drew] 

Yes. Skype was originally from Estonia, and I believe Transferwise is Estonian as well. I’m not here to praise the government on anything, I’m not really keen of politics, but they just made it so cool to lodge a start-up. It’s so easily – the nation is so digitised. It’s so easy to register a company and get started. So little bureaucracy. So, it just makes it awesome for Entrepreneurs and digital nomads to get started with their business online.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Very cool. Yeah, I know they started that digital nomad visa. They were one of the first ones to do something like that, and everyone else has kind of copied them since. But, very cool. So, tell us about your background. How did you get involved and started in this world?

[Alex Drew] 

So, I don’t have any background related to domain investing. My only background is really my passion for technology. My passion for the internet and my passion for anything digital. The very first moment I heard about the internet as a thing, it got me so lured in. It got me attracted. I kind of fell in love with it. And I was always fascinated by having a presence online. By having a URL that belongs to you. You can refer to it when talking to people. So, the very thing of being a webmaster, as they used to call it back in the days, was really cool. So, I thought I want to be a webmaster. And being a webmaster always started with owning a domain, having a domain you can refer to, you can send people to. So, domains shortly became my passion. I kept studying them, registering them, figure out the best registrars, the best deals. And most of the time this is the problem of all investors, an issue like you don’t any development plans. Like in 99% percent of the cases you don’t have any development plans for the best domains you own. But still you can hold them and invest them for the long term because of the passion, because you’re addicted to investing in domain names.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

That’s the sense I get from a lot of domain investors. There’s an addiction there for sure [laughter]. But addiction aside, what makes domain investing great? What makes domains such a great digital asset?

[Alex Drew] 

Well, we’re already in the digital era. And there is absolutely no turning back. And I think you don’t really exist these days as a business or an entity, as an influencer, as anyone if you don’t have a digital presence, if you don’t have a domain. And most of the time it’s all about having a domain name you can relate to. And as much as social media plays a huge roll, like social media accounts, you can’t really at the end of the day, as easily trade them or sell if you at some point decide to do an exit, as you would with domains. So, you’re basically swimming in grey hat waters when you want to sell your Instagram account, or you want to sell your YouTube account. Even though some companies don’t quite say you’re not allowed to do that. But at the end of the day, you need a domain. So, domain investing is great because everyone relates to their domain when it comes to a start-up company. It just – not being a tangible asset, and yet having such an important – playing such an important role in anyone’s business just makes it absolutely fabulous. And the demand for good domain names, especially domain names one can use to build a brand on, is growing exponentially. Like if I remember the demand for domains 20 years ago, and now it’s just a huge growth.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

It is amazing how the test of time, especially like you think of dotcoms. When the web kind of first started everything obviously was basically a dotcom, dot-gov, dot-edu, those were like the only three you ever saw. Maybe like dot-org, right? And then you started seeing dot-nets popup and then there was some other ones. And there was thinking for a while that dotcoms wouldn’t be as valuable going forward because there’s so many alternatives right. There’s so many extensions, TLD’s. So, it wouldn’t really matter if you had a dot-com. And that’s kind of true, but it’s also kind of not true, right? Having a dotcom still matters a lot. It’s not the only one that matters, and a great domain is more than just a dot-com. But it’s speaks to a larger question I have, which is around valuing domains. Domains to me are just – they’re so tricky to value. And I think the reason is because what might be valuable to one person is like garbage to someone else, right. It’s like one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. For a certain domain, one person might be willing to pay thirty grand. Someone else, it wouldn’t be worth thirty cents. And I know there’s a couple of companies that have tried to make sense of this and have more accurate domain valuation tools. EstiBot is kind of the one everyone knows. I’m not sure how great of a job they do. So, I want to ask you, like generally speaking, what do you see in the market? What really makes a domain valuable?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, so first of all, on domain valuation and why’s it’s tricky. In my opinion, all assets regardless of the class, have some kind of emotional side of things attached to them. And as a property owner that is emotionally attached to his property, he’s not willing to sell even if there is a chance for him to consider selling. So, it’s just best to pay whatever he asks otherwise you stand no chance of owning the property in the first place. And when it comes to domain names, exactly the same applies. There are cases when some domain owners are so emotionally attached to their domain, they simply do not consider selling. And then this kind of bumps up the price. And domain relation tools can’t really sense that emotion attached to domains. And in my opinion, domain valuation is tricky mostly because as long as we have this emotional side of things attached, the domain is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. Right now, for example we have a very strategic domain name that we’re willing to buy for our business. And money won’t simply solve the equation. Or regardless of how many historical comparable sales we have. Regardless of the valuation, the domain release of the offers we’ve made the seller, the seller is so emotionally attached to the domain that he’s simply not willing to sell. And he’s not an investor by the way, he’s just a former owner of the business which no longer exists. And the domain name was an important part of his adult life and just a good memory perhaps. And he just doesn’t want to let it go. I still own a couple of these domains myself. Like domains that I registered in the late nineties. And I’m not willing to let them go, regardless of the price. They’re just too important for me. Remind me of the early days. Just something way to valuable for me to sell. And some of these automated domain valuation tools simply do not consider this. I mean in some cases they just – in some cases these tools will just offer a random valuation based on historical searches. Or some comparable sale, historical sales on some comparable sales. But most of the time, all the sales happen privately. And there is really no way for someone to be able to assess the real value of the domain. A recent example is actually Rick Schwartz, who is known as the domain King, selling gobet.com for close to a million dollars. And he said that the history of which led to the sale in recent tweet. And he said that he kept saying no to offers for a couple of years, until the buyers agreed to take what he thought the domain was worth. Because at the end of the day if gobet.com becomes a multibillion-dollar company. The one million dollars price they pay for a domain is really just nothing compared to their exit plan or whatever they can be valid for. So, Rick Schwartz opinion on evaluating the real price of the domain is that you cannot really pay what an automated tool tells you to pay for a potentially life changing event. A life changing domain – the domain that can lead to events that change your lifestyle. Create a huge business. So that’s why automated domain valuation tools are like a two-edge sword. On one hand you can educate buyers that have no idea about domain investing, on the intrinsic value of the domain. And on the other hand, you can get in trouble when someone – a potential buyer, references to the Estibot, or Google Appraisal valuation of a domain telling you that you are charging way too much for the domain. So, it truly depends on the circumstances. But most of the time it’s just good to have them for the general public. People who aren’t truly domain investors don’t dwell as deep into the domain industry. But often times, these don’t by far lead to a real domain evaluation, like a realistic one.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

It’s such a fascinating market. I think that there’s something to be said about not giving in to pressure to lower the price on a domain that you think is really valuable. Because someone that really wants it, is willing to pay a lot. It’s just a weird kind of dynamic where it’s – if you have your heart set on a domain – and like you say that happens all the time, emotion plays a huge part in this. If you have your heart set on a domain, and let’s say the seller is asking twenty grand. It’s not like you’re ever going to lose that emotional attachment to that domain. You’re always going to want that domain [laughter]. If you don’t have twenty grand, you’re going to have to make a trade off and a sacrifice. I look at Alternative Assets and I would love to have alternativeassets.com. There’s absolutely no way in hell I can afford that. Even if I could, I’m not sure I’d want to pay that much just for the dot-com. But if you’re the seller, you have no incentive to lower your price because eventually somebodies going to want and will pay that price. It may take ten years, but ten years at the price you want versus ten months at a price you don’t want. It’s just one of those rare markets where it actually seems like it makes sense to kind of hold out for that one hyper emotional buyer who is willing to pay up. Would you say that’s accurate?

[Alex Drew] 

That’s extremely accurate. Like GoDaddy has had their best year this past year with all the Coronavirus crises. And the digital economy for both brick and mortar businesses and online business, it’s just getting started. I sincerely believe we’re just seeing the growth of the domaining industry. And regardless how much emphasis some investors or some people put on alternative TLD’s like dot-furniture or dot-assets or any other new type of TLD, dotcom still remains king. Dotcoms would be like what bitcoin is for the crypto economy. Just dominates the market. Dotcom is like owning is like owning a piece or property, a piece of land in the centre of a big city. So, you can’t really compare that to anything else. The funny thing is even most crypto businesses these days strive to get the dotcoms, regardless of how much the industry is progressing. You have domains like sushi.com, which was most recently acquired by [inaudible 00:15:08] start up. And you have crypto.com which is quite a big start up. And a few other great domain names like biners.com and a few other really big – both centralised and decentralised marketplaces that operate by owning the dot-com version of their brand.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

The metaphor with crypto and bitcoin is definitely apt. I do think that there’s a lot more value in dot-io than let’s say your average kind of cryptocurrency. Although these days who knows. Especially with what’s been happening with Dogecoin and all that. But year, it is definitely an interesting metaphor. And then of course there’s also the dot crypto TLD, which is being sold through Unstoppable Domains. So, it’s a whole other side track we can go down later. But I think before we get to stuff like that, we should talk a little bit about just the marketplace is for buying and selling domains. While domain investing is still a bit niche, there’s millions of people that buy domains every year. They don’t think of themselves as investors, even if that’s what they are. But they buy a domain because they have a great idea for a side project right. We’ve all been there; you’ve got this great idea for a side project and the very first thing you want to do is just lock in that domain before someone else gets to it. Lock in that dot-com. What mostly happens is the side project doesn’t really get off the ground, or go anywhere, or you don’t have time or a million other reasons. The domain basically collects dust and then it usually just kind of expires. Maybe you tried to sell it to your friends in a Facebook group or something. Or maybe you put it on a marketplace. But there’s many many domains that are bought each year and nothing happens with them. I think we can definitely agree with. So, let’s talk about those marketplaces. What are the biggest marketplaces for buying and selling domains? Who are the biggest players in the industry?

[Alex Drew] 

Volume wise, I think the biggest players in the aftermarket of domains, especially domains that are about to expire, is GoDaddy. If talking about domains that are being sold, still during the redemption grace phase. And this is the phase where the former owner can pay a fee to GoDaddy and get the domain back if they want or can. When it comes to domains that are dropping – so domains that will inevitably drop and the former owners don’t have a chance to get them back. We’re talking about hugedomains.com which owns dropcatch.com which is by far one of the biggest drop catchers out there, especially for dotcom and dot-org domains. And then you have web.com who is a direct competitor with dropcatch.com who owns SnapNames and NameJet. These are the biggest players when it comes to expiring domain names by far.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Yeah, tell us a little bit about this idea of a drop, and how that all works? Because I don’t think everyone understands this concept of drops. Tell us what drop catch does specifically.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, so I’ll try to avoid getting too deep into the rabbit hole because there are a lot of technicalities involved here. And if shouldn’t really matter, like most people who are domain investors, but basically if you don’t have a means as a registrar, if you hold a portfolio of domain names, if you don’t have a means to monetise the domain names, they’re an auction held either by your company or a partner company like GoDaddy or a NameJet. You’re forced to let those domains go through the full life cycle of a domain and they inevitably enter a phase which is called pending delete, from which you cannot buy them and claim ownership. You have to let them drop from the registry and as soon as they drop, we have drop catching software which is very sophisticated software, which requires having multiple registrar licenses and servers. And the fight is in between these really big players right now. We have hugedomains.com which operates dropcatch.com. And we have web.com which is a really big company who operates snapnames.com. And they kind of have a lot of attempts to register valuable domain names the very second these expire. You don’t get – and then they list them for auction within their own portfolio and companies. So, this is how a drop happens. If you were to be a registrar and you had contract with GoDaddy, the moment your domain expires, you can list it for sale via auction and monetise the domain name if the former owner doesn’t want or can not renew it. In any other case you’re just forced to let them domain drop. Unless you want to renew it yourself. And considering most of the domain names don’t hold so much value, just have to let them go away for the drop.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Got it. Okay, so basically if I understand correctly. As soon as a domain goes unpaid, right, the owner no longer has the right to that domain. It then enters this kind of purgatory state. Is that kind of the way to think about it?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, it’s call redemption grace period. But usually, the former owner does have the chance to renew it during the redemption grace, which last anywhere in between 30 days to 45 days depending on the TLD or registrar and their terms of service. But you can pay a fee and get it back.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Okay, but if it expires past the grace period though, that’s when its open season, free for all?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, it kind of goes into a five days pending delete phase where it inevitably drops from the registry. Not only the registrar, but the registry itself. And then it’s kind of free to register for all, exactly. But usually there is no chance you can hand register it, especially if talking about really valuable domain names. So, the fight is in between the big players that just hit with multiple [inaudible 00:21:14], the server and try to get it registered via multiple alternated attempts to register it. And usually just a little bit of randomness involved. Timing lags, depending on whether the servers are positioned closer to the registry and so forth. So, there are quite a lot of technicalities involved here, but at the end of the day. It’s a really really big fight, because sometimes these players can register the domain for, let’s say, eight dollars. And then auction if for hundreds of thousands, depending on how valuable these are. Like these are some really rare catches. But’s worth pursuing them for sure.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Wow, so it’s almost like there’s a high frequency trading aspect to it where there’s actually server location matters. Oh man. So, every single day there’s what, just thousands and thousand and thousands of drops?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, I think even more than that. Like we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of drops. Just the dot-com.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Every single day, hundreds of thousands of drops. And so, these big companies presumably have software to determine the most valuable domain. I mean there’s no way a human could see all those and know what to make bids on or which ones to attempt to register. So, there’s presumably all sorts of software these companies have, I’m guessing, to figure out which of those hundred thousand are worth registering, is that accurate?

[Alex Drew] 

Not really because usually they don’t really care, they just provide their server and their software as a service. It’s up to you to actually do your own due diligence and figure out which one do you want. And then you kind of [inaudible 00:22:47], which is called a back order with them. And you express your willingness to either pay them when they catch the domain for you or participate in an auction if there are multiple entities who want the domain. If you are the only one who kind of placed an order and back ordered the domain, if they manage to catch it for you, you pay them. If, let’s say we both want alternativeassets.com and it’s expiring. If they manage to catch it, they are going to do a three-day auction in between us. So, whoever pays more gets the domain.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Got it. Okay. Interesting. So that’s the primary way that most dropped domains are purchased by these big companies. And then what do the big companies do? The big companies, how do they sell them typically?

[Alex Drew] 

Usually, the big companies who are in the drop catching business, they do not sell the domain names, they just take orders. So, they provide it as a service. And when you agree to hire them to catch that particular domain, you agree to pay them for every successful catch. So, if you don’t pay them, they just ban you and they no longer allow you to place backorders via their service. So, their business model is software and servers basically. You just make use of their technology, of their software. And they’re not a marketplace per say, they are just a means of getting those domains because they have the technology and they have heavily invested, and they’ve structured. So, they have the means to actually provide you with the service. You and me would require millions of dollars and a very big development and engineering to get that all done. So, it’s not realistic to compete with them at that level. But on the other hand, we have other marketplaces. Like Afternic it was owned by GoDaddy and has a portfolio of millions of domain names. Plus, you can list your own there, and then we have dan.com and we have Sedo, and we have some other marketplaces that do provide a large portfolio of domain names and allow you to both buy and sell via them. And are directly related to catching domain names. So, it’s a completely different business. And usually these are the three biggest marketplaces as far as I know. And most of the time you just – when you want to increase your chances of selling your domain name or getting it exposed to the market, the best approach is to list it everywhere. Both in Afternic, let’s say dan.com and even Sedo at the same time.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So how do Afternic, Sedo, dan.com – so these are a little bit different these kind of companies. How do they obtain their domain supply?

[Alex Drew] 

So usually, they have an Uber style approach, so they kind of connect buyers and sellers. But as far as I know, Afternic which is owned by GoDaddy has a very large portfolio of domain. And GoDaddy doesn’t shy away from publicly announcing their domain portfolio acquisition. They recently bought millions of dollars’ worth of domain portfolio. Like they buy them in bulk because they understand which way the market is going. And they know the value the domain is going to increase over time. Especially dotcoms. So, they are buying a lot of dictionary word dotcoms, a lot of pronounceable names, allot of acronyms or brandable domain names. And just listing them for sale. Sometimes there is now way to differentiate between your domain and GoDaddy’s domain in a marketplace like Afternic. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Wow. Yeah, I mean, God, GoDaddy would have so much data on search intent. And so, you mean they’re actually buying their own stock, and in the GoDaddy domain marketplace, it may be coming from them. They may be the owner. If you’re going to buy a domain from GoDaddy it might be that they actually bought it?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, right now GoDaddy has connected all the marketplaces into the same. So, if you go to godaddy.com and you type like alternative assets. If it’s listed for sale in Afternic, you’re going to be one click away from buying it. If you can afford it obviously. So, if you type alternative assets into GoDaddy they’re going to say like “buy it now”, because it’s listed in Afternick. So, they are connecting all the dots here and making it extremely easy. So, if you have domain for sale, you list it in Afternic, and they kind of have – Afternic, GoDaddy, Sedo are one of the few marketplaces with real traffic. And marketplaces which can kind of help get your domain closer to a sale. An actual sale. Not just off a park page and then letting it be up to you to figure out how to sell it. They actually bring you buyers if you have group domain names.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Yeah definitely. I haven’t done a ton of domain flipping, domain investing and selling. Every now and then I probably literally buy like twenty domains a year. Here’s what happens to them. I’d say ten of them, absolutely nothing except collect dust. Just spur of the moment impulse purchases. I’d say another five I try to sell on those marketplaces, or Flippa, or other marketplaces. And then one to two I actually use. Maybe two or three I actually turn into a side project or another project or something like that. So, I’ve had definitely some luck with selling domains in the past. I’ve also put domains up for sale which I thought were valuable, and it’s just like total crickets. And the problem is I know that someone out there will find them valuable, really valuable. It’s just I don’t know if I want to keep renewing it every year. Every year you get that notice and it’s like, do you want to renew? And you’re like “oh man, I know there’s someone out there who wants it, but it might take three years to find them”. So, I end up usually just kind of letting them wither. And it just feels like a waste. I don’t know.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, one piece of advice is to do your best to expose them. And at the moment the best thing you can do is list them in all the biggest marketplaces that are all multiple listings. For example, there are marketplaces that won’t let you list it elsewhere. They want a dedicated type of approach with the domain redirecting to where their websites so forth and so on. While there are marketplaces like Afternic, Sedo and even dan.com who don’t care if you listed elsewhere. So, it’s very important to actually have them listed in all the biggest marketplaces. And also have a dedicated landing page with a make an offer option. And this way you can have full control of your domain portfolio and basically just having them exposed to the world gives you the opportunity to feel if there is demand. And in the domaining world you can’t really make it if you don’t own a portfolio, because most of the time you make a sale, and that sale is going to make up for the renewal of all your portfolio throughout that year. And it makes sense to keep going. And your second sales going to be profitable if you make it.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

It’s like venture capital. I mean you make a hundred bets, and two of them pay off and pay for everything ten times over.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, it’s a game of small bets. And usually all you need it a unicorn to renew all your domains and just keep going. And just make small bets and try to increase your chances of selling the good names. And obviously you need a spring sale once in a while. You’ve kept the domain for years and there is no other means to sell them. And you either let it go, or you trade them or there are other means to get rid of them. But usually yeah, it requires some kind of trimming or spring cleaning once in a while. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

That makes sense. So, you’ve definitely followed this market extremely well. How have you noticed domain investing kind of changing over the years? Presumably it’s become a lot more institutionalised. Presumably investors are getting a lot smarter on the acquisition side. What have you noticed? How have you seen domain investing change over time?

[Alex Drew] 

Well, it did change a lot. Like more demand, obviously more sales, more educated buyers, more educated institutional buyers hopefully, and more sellers. Way more clarity over the aftermarket of domain names in general. Domain prices have gone up due to the demand. And the fact that both investors, and a good part of the buyers do realise the importance of a good brandable premium. You know, domain name just makes the industry move forward, escalate, grow. For example, Microsoft just acquired – I’m not sure, just like recently, like this year probably, acquired teams.com. And Namecheap made a strategic acquisition of wolf.com. And there is really just – and they made it seem like it’s a strategic acquisition for a potential future product. But most domain investors believe they’re just hoarding good domain names. Because at the end of the day there is just one single prove.com in this world, in this universe. Even in a parallel universe there is just one single prove.com. So, this [Inaudible 00:31:40] of these domain names is absolutely fantastic. It’s huge. You can’t really imagine how valuable some of these domain names are. So big corporations, when they are doing their growth, even start-ups, they tend to acquire domains which are extremely relevant. And some of them even get traffic. For example, teams.com, I’ll bet has a lot of direct type in traffic. People just not knowing where it leads to, but they will search for teams.com, maybe looking for an alternative to Slack, or some other software. So, the domain industry is changing really really fast. And the demand for good domains is increasing. Especially the rare ones. Especially the dictionary name ones.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

The dictionary names, the under-five characters, the real words, the…

[Alex Drew] 

…Yeah, the pronounceable ones.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

[Laughter] that’s always a big one, yeah. God. The ones without dashes in the middle, that’s always a – you know. And it’s funny because you take a four-letter word dotcom, it could be that it’s valuable in its own right because it’s a rare four-letter dictionary word, in a dot-com. It also could be that there’s a company that’s just going to want that someday. I think of Zoom, right. Everyone’s into Zoom now, of course. And for the longest time, zoom – they didn’t own zoom.com, they just had zoom.us. I mean, even when they went public, they were a global company by that point. It was still just zoom.us. But they finally bit that bullet. I don’t know what they paid for zoom.com, but you better believe they finally had the cash for it. And that seller had a pretty great day, that’s for sure. So, the companies always come around to the dotcom when they get cashed up. It always happens like clockwork.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, absolutely. Really big rebranding, recent one was Transferwise, moving to wise.com. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

I saw that. Yeah.

[Alex Drew] 

And that’s really interesting. It just proves that there is big companies who want to – I recently posted a real interesting [inaudible 00:33:43] by Frank Schilling, who was the Founder of Uniregistry, and well-known domain investor. And GoDaddy recently acquired Uniregistry. And he basically says like, thinking a good domain name will lower your long-term marketing costs by a lot. Be very smart and be very careful when you make that domain acquisition. And you kind of find a means to make it really really targeted to your company. Like think well before you invest in a domain name, because most of the time people will just think that’s too expensive. But they do not take into account the real expenses of marketing a bad domain name. Or a name that doesn’t really resemble the business or doesn’t go along with their marketing message.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Yeah, the domain name just has to make sense. There’s no hard and fast rules about when a domain doesn’t make sense, but it’s like, you know it when you see it, right. We’ve all seen good companies. And you look at their domain, and you’re like “oh man, that’s the domain, good luck with that”. Maybe it sounds similar to another company, or if it’s got an unfortunate dash in there, or maybe there’s like a “Y” when it should be an “I”. You just know it’s going to cause long term problems for them. It’s tricky, it’s really tricky. Alright, so we’ve talked a lot about domain investing. And what I would love to do now is talk about the new trend with domain investing. And so, there’s a lot of trends, but the biggest one is this trend around age domains. So, it’s a big trend. There’s also kind of a lot of confusion about what exactly an age domain is. Some people call them age domains, others it’s pre-owned, I’ve also heard the term SEO domains. So, what exactly are aged domains?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, so we’ve already addressed, or partially addressed the lifecycle of a domain name. And an aged domain is just a name with history. And throughout that age and history, good domain names, good age domain names manage to get valuable references, mentions, backlinks. Usually, these domains used to belong to various start-ups, organisations, companies, entities. And they manage to harness a lot of value in terms of value that can be used for SEO purposes throughout those years. So, most of the time, we’re talking about domains with a history, and domains which managed throughout time, and aged to harness a good chunk of very very quality references, backlinks. And most of the time, we’re talking about traffic. Relevant traffic that you can use for your start up. So, imagine some people compare aged domains to abandoned real estate. I wouldn’t really say abandoned, because we’re talking about a market of buying and selling. Some of these domain names are acquired via auctions. Which companies like GoDaddy auctions too. Other times it’s just a trade in between investors and the final buyer. But most of the time, aged domains are just domains that have history, that had something developed or had a company or a project or an idea developed before you took or claimed ownership of the domains. And the reason some people call them expired domains is just because a portion of these domains, they have come from auctions, from the expired domains auctions. Some people call them pre-owned because they had a different owner in the past. Then we have the crowd that calls the SEO domain names because they have SEO value. But at the end of the day, it’s the age of the domain name which allowed them to harness all the value. The historical value, the backlink value, traffic value.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

And so, for those who may not understand. I think it’s good to kind of maybe give an example of how valuable an aged domain can be and what makes it so valuable. See you talked about all of these inbound links, or what we call link juice right? Why is it valuable to have a domain that comes chock full of this link juice? Why is it valuable to have a domain that has a bunch of backlinks pointing to it?

[Alex Drew] 

Well first of all, those backlinks are worth something. Like even going beyond the fact that they will help your SEO, they will help with all sorts of ranking signals in Google, they will help with your trust. Because most of the really good backlinks that are still powering some of the highest quality domain names, they are backlinks which use the brand name as [Inaudible 00:38:26]. So, all those signals can help you rank faster. But beyond ranking faster and beyond all the ASIO aspect for aged domain name, those backlinks, those references, those mentions on real big websites like starting with newyorktimes.com, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Tech Crunch, they’re worth something, they’re worth a lot of money because if we were to study the market of buying and selling those links, you would be looking at tens of thousands of dollars spent on buying those links. And if you were to focus on retention, what was really needed to successfully rank website and get a lot of visibility in the search engines, it’s all about building a proper site, contemplating, understanding technical SEO and then acquire links. How you acquire those links either by having an extraordinary marketing team [Inaudible 00:39:36] creating a huge brand, having people talk about the link to your site. Or acquiring those links in a more grey hat manner, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the backlink profile, getting those links costs a lot of money. And aged domains just have them by default. Like when we cherry pick, when we hand pick these domains, we want them to be both brandable premium domains we can use to rebrand to, domains which hold intrinsic value, and also want them backed with valuable links. And most of the time you have traffic coming through those links. So, it’s a double win.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

The metaphor I like for this is, it’s a way to fast forward the process of building out your own company, your own brand. It’s like buying land that already has a foundation for a house. Like the foundation was already poured. You know, a lot of people don’t realise when you start a website from scratch – I take Alternative Assets for example, we started that domain from scratch, no one had ever owned that domain before, alternativeassets.club, no one had ever owned it before, which was fine. But you’re in what we call the Google penalty box so to speak, for the first – it can be months. I don’t remember how long it took us to start ranking, but at least three to four months. You basically get no organic traffic from Google at all. Right, and even five-six months in it starts to trickle in but it takes a long time is the point. And after about a year or so you really start to see things ramp up, and that’s great. But what these age domains do is you basically just fast-forward all of that time. Because Google already knows it’s a domain. It has a history, it has backlinks, it has maybe some traffic still. Some traffic is always even better. But the point is it’s like, you don’t have to start from scratch, there’s no sandbox, there’s no waiting period. And hopefully, not only is there no waiting period, but you’ve already earned the trust. That’s the way theoretically at least it goes. You’ve already earned the trust with Google, because you’ve already got. Let’s say Forbes pointing to you, or CNN pointing to you. And you didn’t have to do anything. 

[Alex Drew] 

So, most of our clients prefer focusing on actually building their website. Creating awesome content. Not worrying about backlinks, not worrying about promoting, not worrying about acquiring those links in the first place. So, they’re focused on the product, they’re focused on building their sites, they’re focused on writing content. And they kind of stay away from all the worries related to building links because that’s a very frustrating process. If you were ever involved in a link building campaign, it’s very very frustrating. From outreach, to be rejected by fellow website owners who simply refuse to link to your site or just not having the budget for good marketing so that big media outlets pick you up. And something that it’s worth paying attention to. You don’t have to worry about the link building part. You don’t have to worry about getting some awesome links, at least for the first year. So, you can focus entirely on your site, on building that product, on building your site and publishing great content. And most of the time if you focus on building and you know what you’re doing in terms of technical SEO, structuring your site, building a good site architecture, building topical relevancy for your site in terms of content. You just start ranking naturally, organically because as you said there is so much authority associated with a former entity, and Google just knows that.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

It’s awesome man, and of course the risk there is that the former entity has to be a good one in Googles eyes because if the former entity was one that you may not want to be associated with, that can maybe cause some problems for you later on down the line. But of course, most sites are good, most domains are good and free link juice is always a – generally I should say a good thing. 

[Alex Drew] 

Well in fact, most domains are bad. I would like to debate that. Most domains are bad, and free link juice usually doesn’t come free. Because if you don’t know what you’re doing you end up with a trademark domain, or a domain associate with some bad PR or with a domain that doesn’t have organic backlinks. It has artificially or formerly abused backlinks. So that’s where a curated marketplace like ours, like ODYS comes into place because we have a really big team, and it does the due diligence first and we even guarantee that the domain doesn’t have any penalties, hasn’t been abused in the past and absolutely natural links. So, it’s very very important. It’s something that we learned throughout the years, it’s not like you can go to GoDaddy auction and every domain you get is going to be packed with juicy back links that are natural and won’t get you into trouble.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Now that’s really interesting. So, lets shift gears a bit and let’s talk about ODYS. So how does ODYS work? ODYS, you said is a curated marketplace. So, there’s a team involved here, there’s due diligence. How does ODYS work exactly?

[Alex Drew] 

We’ve basically monitored the whole aftermarket of domain names. And we filter it through our own software. And we try to identify the best domains on a daily basis. Like we process hundreds of thousands of domains on a daily basis. And we try to invest in the best ones for our members and just list them for sale. But an important past is just showcasing the real intrinsic value of these domain names. And we just try to make it as explicit as possible. We try to bring as much transparency and just show where the value is by displaying the most valuable links, by explaining the value of the name, the relevancy. We even monitor traffic for these domain names. We want to make sure these have been indexed [inaudible 00:45:28] throughout their lifetimes. So, we just want to make sure we have very very strict qualities tenders for every domain we invest in. And right now, it has been like one way highway in terms of investing. So, we’ve been selling our own domains. But something that we’re looking forward to launching in the next quarter is allowing our own members and third-party entities to list their domain names for sale via ODYS. So, if you have a domain name that matches our quality standards, you’ll be able to list it for sale in our marketplace. So, we just want to bring more liquidity and also allow investor to kind of buy domain names from ODYS. And immediately list it for sale, again.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

That’s exciting. Man, that is super exciting. So just to be clear, today the vast majority or all of your inventory, you guys are purchasing these domains yourself?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah. Yeah, we’re investing our own money. Yeah.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So, you’re in investing your own capital. The marketplace is full of pre – not only domains with link juice, but they’re also pre-vetted, they’ve gone through due diligence, you use your expertise to figure out which ones are the best ones to buy. And that’s what’s populating your marketplace. And then you’re saying in the future you want to be an open marketplace, a peer-to-peer marketplace?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, we even launched a new version of the marketplace that [inaudible 00:46:55] we have three different options where it says sell domains, buy domains and pre order domains. So, with sell domains, you’ll be able to immediately list your domain names for sale. As long as they adhere to our quality standards. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So, who are the typical buyers right now you guys are seeing? Are they – are you selling to individuals, or agencies or is it kind of like a mix of both? 

[Alex Drew] 

It’s a mix of both, and it’s really interesting because we started with people who are interested in ASIO. We started with affiliate marketers, because these are the folks that want to get a head start over their competition. But as we moved forward, as we progressed as a start-up, we’ve started noticing a lot of interest. Because one of the criteria’s of investing in our own domain names is picking up great names. So, we inevitably stumbled upon acquiring domain names that have a lot of intrinsic value, solely based on the name itself. So, we started selling to people that aren’t necessarily interested in the ASIO aspect of these domain names. Just as good names. And the third type of crowd that we’ve recently started dealing with, were the people that were interested in the historical aspect of the domain names. So more like a collectable. So, let’s say someone was involved in a start-up. Or used to be a client of a particular start up. Now that start up went bust. But it still had a history, and that person kind of – was all over it, like a brewery for example right. And we managed to acquire the domain name. We own it, and he was a big fan of that domain name. And he just came to ODYS and purchased the domain name from us because he just wants to own the domain name, or that company.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

That’s interesting. And I love the framing, a digital collectible, right. It’s kind of a new way of thinking about domains. But you’re absolutely right, they are digital collectibles. They have intrinsic value as well as extrinsic value. Yeah, I really like that framing. It’s interesting.

[Alex Drew] 

Especially right now when we are riding the NFT wave, and everyone being really fond of the whole concept of non-fungible tokens. Well, what I have to say is, that the domains are the original NFT’s on the web. The only difference is they’re not on a blockchain, they’re no decentralised, they’re owned by some big corporations. But nevertheless, they’re absolutely unique. And big domain investors have been holding to their domain names. And especially the ones that they refuse to sell, they treat them as digital collectibles. Like they see value in them but there is no way they are going to sell that. It’s way too – it’s beyond money to sell some of those domain names.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

The valuation side is something that I’m just so fascinated about with this market. How do you guys think about valuations? You’ve got expertise, you’ve got due diligence and you can look at the backlink profile for every single domain before you add it to your inventory. But what factors kind of go into your valuations? Is it just domain authority? Or is it a combination of domain authority and the number of – the backlink profile, how much do the backlinks weigh in? What can you tell us about kind of what goes into your own valuations?

[Alex Drew] 

So right now, if you go to ODYS and study our marketplace, you’re going to see the price the domains sell for. And you’re going to see a metric we called ODYS or ODYS value. So, the ODYS value is a mix of factors. And one of the most important factors is obviously the domain name itself. And we use some data from tools like EstiBot or GoDaddy Appraisal. But that is like not even close to the real value of the domain name which usually comes from the amount of money you would have had to spend on backlinks, on the authority backlinks. So, say we have a domain that is worth – that is being sold for a thousand dollars, but if you look at the backlink profile, it has links from big websites like debtcrunch.com, from Forbes. And getting those links alone would have required tens of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the price of every backlink. So, say, a domain with one hundred referring domains, like unique referring domains, I’m not even talking about the total amount of backlinks. So, one hundred unique referring domains with a minimum price of twenty dollars per link, which all of people have been telling me that’s like way to conservative, you should be looking at least two hundred dollars for permanent backlinks. That’s already worth twenty thousand dollars alone. We are more on the conservative side, and we say, okay so the backlink profile is worth at least two thousand dollars. If you were to buy those links on your own, which is much more but we just try to be really humble about that. And just try to keep it to a minimum. And then if you take into account the biggest links, like the highest authority links that domain have, like say Debt Crunch or Forbes, or let’s say some big media. Not to mention that in some cases that those links, if you were to address, or to reach out to those companies, they are absolutely impossible to get. So, it’s really difficult to vet how much or to try to figure out how much you would have to pay, because they don’t sell any links. And just getting mentioned on that website is like a big deal.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So, you guys are basically starting from the point of trying to understand the value of the backlinks. So, you say Tech Crunch for example, you actually can get a link from Tech Crunch if you’re willing to pony up. I was unofficially quoted about twenty thousand dollars to get a link from Tech Crunch that is. But that’s till tricky because you can’t just say “oh okay, well this domain has a back link from Tech Crunch worth twenty grand, so thus the domain is worth twenty grand”. So clearly there’s a lot more to it than that. I’m sure you have a proprietary algorithm.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, so the pricing itself is based on our own acquisition price. So how much we pay for it plus our margin, and our own – but when we evaluate how much it might be worth, so generally speaking the value of the domain. So, value of the domain doesn’t reflect on the pricing. So, the pricing can be a thousand or two thousand dollars for a great domain name. But we have ODYS value at like twenty thousand dollars.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

That make sense, so the ODYS value is what it’s truly worth?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, what we estimate it to be worth, considering factors like what we would have to pay for a backlink, or a mention on a big website or a media outlet. It’s traffic. Let’s say comparable sales in terms of the name of the domain. All of that adds up, but the price of the domain isn’t twenty thousand dollars. The price of the domain is based on what we paid for the domain to secure it in the first place.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

And your decision to secure it is presumably based off of some formula you have based on the actual value I would imagine?

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah obviously. Plus, there are domains strictly related to some niches which are more costs. And obviously they will sell for more. But they sell for more not because we base our pricing on the valuation, we base our pricing on our own acquisition. So, if we had to pay more to get it in the first place it’s going to cost more.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Got it.

[Alex Drew] 

Regardless of how much we evaluate it for. Because the whole purpose of ODYS value and showing the value just showing how much intrinsic value you get. Most of our domains have traffic – like 99% of our ODYS domains have traffic. If you’re buying a domain about, say pillows or mattresses, and it has relevant traffic from websites that are linking – those are relevant websites. We have a case when someone acquired a domain to build a pillow related website, pillows, mattresses. And he started making sales without even ranking. But because the domain name already had traffic. And that traffic is worth something. So, it’s really an interesting way to look at it. How much is the traffic that the domain still has worth? How much is the backlink profile the domain has worth? And then you add up the name, and then you add up all the trust signals, and you come up with ODYS value as the valuation for the domain.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

It’s so cool. I love it. It’s kind of what we’re trying to do with our Alternative Assets with our inferred value for NFT’s, IPO’s. Basically, you kind of just start down that exact same path of what is this truly worth? And then you just kind of start applying your discount models and triangulating a price that makes sense. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Just an exercise in doing it over and over. And not every domain you have is going to sell. Maybe let’s talk about that a little bit. So, I’m sure that there’s plenty of domains that you guys have purchased, and the fish just aren’t biting on those ones. What do you do with those? Are you in the business of kind of keeping those up in the marketplace forever? Or are you tied to them? Or are you thinking about ways to release those back into the wild so to speak?

[Alex Drew] 

We actually rarely let any domains expire or release them back to the market. That’s because we never invest in domain names that we wouldn’t use ourselves for building a website or a project. So, whenever we see a domain name, when ever we find a really good domain name worth investing in, we kind of have an idea, development idea, business idea for that domain name. And the way it usually works with ODYS, even though it’s not publicly stated, is we have a certain time frame. Throughout which we give the domain a chance to sell via the marketplace. If it doesn’t sell, we remove it from the marketplace and we start building our own websites. Like in most of the cases we’re talking about affiliate size. But in some other cases we were strategically acquiring domains for – it really depends on the Neche, if we’re talking about ASIO, we’re talking about domains related to the domaining industry, we’re getting those for our own business. Those are way to valuable to keep forever. For sale they, have to be put to use. So, right now one of the ways I like to tackle this, is we have skin in the game with these domains. We would never invest in a domain name that we don’t have a development plan for. That’s why we just don’t buy thousands of domains, we can’t beat the very best ones. And that’s why with every domain name that you see listed for sale in ODYS. You have a monetisation angle; you have a type of business idea that we kind of suggest. And we can even help you build that site. So, if you don’t want it, we want it back. Because it’s too valuable to just let it go. It expires. So, we won’t buy stuff that we’re not fully convinced about.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Well one thing I love about this market and this industry, is how it kind of reverses the traditional approach to building a business. What I mean by that is, most people wait for inspiration to come, and then go out and register a domain name and kind of start from scratch. And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But what I love about this is if you just kind of flip that on its head, and just let the inspiration come to you based on the domain name. And then just create a business around that. It’s like, you see a domain name called stopblisters.com, you may not be passionate about blisters but that’s a great domain name. Now if that’s got a link juice and everything attached to it, my God, that’s even better. You could very easily build a business around stopblisters.com. And that’s just one example. So, it’s just kind of interesting. It’s kind of – people don’t really tend to think like that when they’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. But it’s just as valuable of an approach as anything else. I really like it.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah exactly. Right now, we have our regular members, we have regular members that are buying from ODYS. And some of them already have a business. Let’s say you have like the podcast, the whole business around Alternative Assets. And let’s say you find a domain which was a former domain of a business, of a podcast, let’s say of a blog, which talked exclusively about alternative assets. And it still has traffic, and it still has links, and it still has mentions, it would be a really good idea to kind of take it and merge it with your own business. So sometimes, like most of our buyers, are people who already have a business. And they just want to strengthen it, they want to build more entities like satellite sites to funnel in traffic, to kind of merge it with their business. On the other hand, we’re also a marketplace of business ideas. Someone may have heard, or explicitly knows that it’s easier to rank with an aged domain. And he just logs into his ODYS account and just scrolls through the domains, uses the filter to find new business ideas. And he just finds an excellent, let’s say pets related domains. And he decided to go into that because he was just about to buy a cat. And [inaudible 1:00:20] why not launch a site about cats, since he’s passionate about that stuff. So, it also becomes a marketplace of ideas, besides just being a marketplace for the means which you can use for your existing business.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So, let’s talk about some of the other strategies around aged domains. We’ve talked about the primary strategy, which is you take an aged domain, you’ve already got the foundation, and then it’s much easier to build a house and to build a second story of that house quicker. So that’s the primary strategy. But there’s also some strategies with what we call 301 redirects. Which is where you take an aged domain, but you don’t use it as your primary house, so to speak. What you do is redirect the link juice and redirect the traffic that that aged domain is getting, into your primary domain. And so, your primary house. What can you tell us about the 301-redirect strategy, and maybe some other similar strategies around PBN’s or Private Blog Networks? 

[Alex Drew] 

Well, I like to keep PBN’s separate from anything related to ODYS, because it’s more of a like a link building type of business. And not solely related to domain names, as domain names with intrinsic value. Like when it comes to investing in domain names, aged domain names like 301 redirects are just an amazing way to harness all that power. But even though I am an SEO by heart, I like to kind of look beyond the SEO aspect of 301 redirecting for strengthening your website. Because most of the time, when you’re building a business, you want to use every means possible to kind of strengthen up and gain an advantage over your competitors. So, for example in your case with Alternative Assets, I would suggest to look for domains that are related to investing. Not necessarily alternative assets investing but investing in general. Maybe alternative assets if you can find any. And by 301 redirecting them to your site, you can tap into potential investors, buyers, more subscribers to your newsletter. Like all sorts of interesting things may happen from that. But obviously you also harness the power of backlinks and the references it has. Because all those get pushed to, redirected forwarded to your existing site, and obviously that’s a good signal. So, 301 redirects beyond SEO, just an amazing means of getting extra traction, traffic, trust. Like I said, Microsoft acquired teams.com, but it didn’t acquire it for a development project. Teams.com now redirects to Microsoft Teams which is microsoft.com/teams or something like that. It’s the same for – these are strategic acquisition, and 301’s is just a means of redirecting the existing traffic. And by that means also, links to existing site and just strengthening what ever you’re working on. So, in terms of PBNs, PBN’s are probably worth talking about in a different podcast, because what ODYS does, it’s refocused on the domain investing aspect of things because PBN’s are mostly related to just exploiting the short-term benefit of link juice. Strengthening up a project. With 301 redirects, as a link acquisition method, it just – far more valuable and faster. And just, ideally like a next level type of link building. Because when you redirect a domain that is powered by, let’s say, hundred unique referring domains, valuable unique referring domains to your site, you instantly get one hundred unique referring domains. And that it brings a huge amount of value to your project. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

The 301 stuff is really fascinating. I’ve never 301 redirected a site into Alternative Assets. I did recently buy a similar website. It was a peer-to-peer lending site based in the EU. It’s called thepoorinvestor.eu. And it’s a peer-to-peer lending review site. But I didn’t 301 redirect the traffic because I had read that there was some risks in doing that. And I was kind of just enjoying the traffic that the site was getting, and I got it for a good price. And so, I haven’t really pulled that trigger yet. Are there risks with doing 301 redirects? Or is it pretty safe?

[Alex Drew] 

The only real risks I see in terms of redirecting a domain, is if you’re buying a domain which is trademarked, or can get you in legal trouble. Other than that, I find it perfectly safe. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

 Or not in the same niche right. I’ve heard that can hurt as well.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, but in your case, like what you can do is write an article about investing in peer-to-peer lending companies. And then 301 redirecting this domain which was a former – or website if you don’t want to have it around and further grow it, if you don’t plan to bring it to the next level, you can just take it and -01 redirect it with all it’s traffic and links and whatever it brings with it, to your article about peer-to-peer lending. And that would be like the perfect lending page. And you could get those visitors interested in your other stuff as well. So, it doesn’t ruin the visitor experience. And it just makes perfect sense for Google, for crawlers, for search engine bots, because they’re coming from a site related to P2P lending. And they end up on an article which talks exactly about that. So perfect relevancy, makes sense for everyone. Doesn’t ruin the user experience. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Yeah, definitely want to learn more about the process. It seems like next level. But I definitely see the value in it. Very cool. So, I noticed that you guys have switched to – you’re doing, kind of logos. You’ve started to add logos for the names and the data base. Because it’s similar to like what Brandbucket does or Squadhelp does. Where the buyers are now buying not just the domain name full of link juice but almost like a brand. You’re buying a logo; you’re buying a domain full of link juice. You’re really giving yourself a great head start, it’s a great value ad. How’s that working out for you guys so far?

[Alex Drew] 

Our goal is to help every single domain investor that is using ODYS to acquire an aged domain, to get a head start on the competition. And usually that head start is all about timing. So, if it takes three days to get a logo down, and we can do it for you in advance, we’ll do it. If it takes like a day to figure out the best hosting you can use for your domains, we’ll figure that out as well. Our goal is to fast forward you to launching your website. So that’s why we provide the logo. Beyond that, the industry has evolved from sellers offering domain names for sale in an excel spreadsheet, and just letting you pick the ones you want. From actually bringing them to a marketplace where you can take – you look at the domain names, and sometimes it’s just about the chemistry in between you and the domain names. Sometimes that logo can resemble something that you get attached to. Sometimes that logo can help you get a better vision for the project, for the business idea for that particular domain. And beyond that It’s just easier to remember. You can figure out if you can build a brand or you can use the logo. But at the end of the day, the original intent was to help our buyers just get traction faster. But there are multiple things associated with getting that logo, because it’s just visually more enticing and easier to navigate from a marketplace where domain names have some kind of personality attached to them and aren’t just data entered into a spreadsheet.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

It’s cool. I like the way you’re thinking about it. You guys are really in business of not necessarily selling domain names. But kickstarting someone’s dreams. And everything you can do to help that is part of the value prop. Domains are a huge part of that of course. Really the fundamental cornerstone. But there’s other things involved. There’s hosting, like you said there’s a brand, there’s logo. So, I like the way your kind of thinking through that and packaging it all up. Really cool.

[Alex Drew] 

Yeah, thanks. I mean there’s really – our goal is never ending improvement. We’ve keep delivering value, we’ll keep figuring out ways to showcase the value. Because when we showcase something specific about a domain, we don’t actually invent it or fake it. There is now way to do that. Especially for the keen investor. At the end of the day, it’s all about just showing what’s there by default, for a domain name that we’ve managed to secure. So, all a logo does is just enhance the experience when interacting with that domain name.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

So, in terms of the future. What does the future hold? This is kind of like a two-part question to finish things off. But one, where do you see domain investing going right? What do you see happening in the next few years just in the space at large? And then, just as importantly what do you guys have cooking up at ODYS? What’s next for you guys. What are you thinking? What can we expect from the future of ODYS?

[Alex Drew] 

I think domain name as an industry is just getting started, is just getting warmed up. Because as we’ve seen past the Covid crisis, everyone can go digital. There is a means especially for the online business. To operate strictly from home. And a digital presence is more important than ever. And domain names, due to costs, especially in extensions in like dotcoms are becoming more and more valuable. More and more companies are starting to realise the real value beyond having a presence. And not just any presence. With a dash or with a dot-net or with dot-biz, or any other fancy extension. But a solid brand, this is why I see the domaining industry moulding more great products like dan.com being developed. A more liquid marketplace for buying and selling domain names. More educated buyers and obviously just the industry which has especially with start ups like Unstoppable Domain Names. But those are a little bit early in my opinion. But nevertheless, the industry is moving forward at a very fast pace. In terms of ODYS, we have a lot of good stuff cooking. Like some of the things that I can not publicly announce yet. But nevertheless, I already did with the ability – the functionality of selling your own domains. So, we’ll have – we’ll allow our investors to buy a domain name and immediately list it for sale in the exact same marketplace just because we already had the traffic, the buyers. Maybe if you don’t have like an immediate development plan or resources, you can just buy and re-list it for sale. You can add your own markup, and if it’s a sale, you can make some money, if it doesn’t sell at least it’s exposed to something. It doesn’t just sit in your registrar and do nothing. And we have a lot of cool functionality coming up but some of which I cannot reveal right now because it’s not yet ready. Plus, it can be really enticing for our competitors to find out and I don’t know what could happen. 

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Well, Alex. I want to say thank you so much for joining today. I think we had a great time talking about what is truly a fantastic alternative asset. And I think the phrase you used which I really love, is “domains are a great digital collectable”. And the world that you’re in specifically with aged domains is super exciting. I love the metaphor of fast forwarding the building of a house. Getting your traction faster, skipping the sandbox and getting down to business. Focusing on what really matters much much faster. So, look forward to seeing the space evolve. We especially look forward to seeing how ODYS evolves. And that includes the peer-to-peer marketplace. Super exciting. Thank you once again.

[Alex Drew] 

Thank you. It’s been great talking to you.

[Stefan Von Imhof]

Alright take care bud.

[Alex Drew] 

Take care.

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Author

Stefan Von Imhof

Stefan Von Imhof

Stefan lives and breathes asset analysis and valuations. Before founding Alts, he was the Head of Product at Flippa, he created and ran Flippa's Due Diligence Program, and has bought & sold dozens of websites & newsletters. Prior to Flippa he was the first product manager at HG Insights, a market intelligence company which sold to Riverwood Capital Partners. Originally from Boston and later Santa Barbara, CA, he now lives in Australia with his wife & Boston Terrier, Charlie.

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