I first met Matt Holmes in Las Vegas at NamesCon and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him better over the years. Matt is a high energy guy, always super fun to talk to, and doing some particularly interesting things in the domain development and lead generation space. Along with understanding the power of a good domain name, Matt knows the development and lead generation space well and has scaled his business to over 90 live websites.
Matt and I were having beers in Austin this year at NamesCon (actually after this concert) and we did a deeper dive into some of the projects he was working on. I was fascinated, I couldn’t get enough, it was so interesting, so I asked Matt if he’d be open for doing an interview on my blog since I think my readers would really dig it too…and here we are. I think you’re really going to enjoy this one – now let’s get to the interview!
First things first – why do they call you “Matt Handshaking Holmes” – I feel like everyone who doesn’t know you is going to want to know that.
I’ve been accused of the wrongful act of handshaking since 2013, when i was working Special Projects for a NM Congressman. It was simply too tempting to ask for a pic when working at Capitol Hill with people like Paul Ryan when seeing them walk around our mutual office hallways. When friends started seeing the pics like this one, they started the name calling, Handshaking Holmes!
Okay, now onto lead generation websites. How did you get started in the lead gen space?
I have been an entrepreneur since before graduating college in 2010. It started with buying a motorcycle after a bad break up in college, moved onto residential real estate after graduation. And after 3 years of screaming at tenants and contractors, i knew there was a better way to invest knowing how popular the internet was getting. Land was so much more affordable online. In Denver a piece of land costs hundreds of thousands to build a house on, but online, a piece of land only cost $8/yr if it was not claimed. I now own 500 pieces of onlines real estate (domains) and almost 20% are developed as lead generation businesses that make up my full-time income, alone with our several staff members.
What did you do to find out which niches performed the best?
We tested about 2 dozen niches in the home services space, and a little bit in automotive. We have 91 live websites as of today, but that changes on a weekly basis.
You’ve built a team in the Philippines, when did you make that move?
As a solo founder, with no investors, I made that move after 3 months of seeing my business savings account just be smashed by a contractor charging thousands per month for his very limited time. After that I choose to ask my virtual assistant to work full-time which equaled only a few hundred dollars. Despite the cultural differences, SH*T was getting done.
What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs that might want to build up their remote workforce in the Philippines?
Visit. In addition to changing your life, it will grow your appreciation for what you have, save you money, and introduce you to some food that is almost as good as traditional Thai or Vietnamese food. You’re close to those countries anyway, so I’m sure you’ll visit them, too.
Where do you sell lead gen sites?
We sell our lead gen sites to our customers for big money, or we sell them to savvy investors who subscribe to Empire Flippers for a multiple of the past revenue it’s made over the last 6-12 months.
How do you think the Coronavirus will impact lead gen?
Well, that greatly depends on who you’re selling leads to. If I was selling leads to an over crowded theatre, I probably wouldn’t be selling many leads today. But fortunately for us, home service providers can provide contactless quotes, and often perform work without even asking for a handshake (yes ironic!).
What impact are you seeing from the Coronavirus and what are you doing to adapt?
Our sales are slightly up, despite losing one of our big customers. I think we are still figuring out how this is effecting us. The businesses buying leads from us vary in every single city since we are selling to all kinds of different home service providers. It also depends on each individual person’s feelings on the pandemic. Luckily, even if our sales were to drop we would remain profitable. There’s probably some opportunity for us to do more work for our lead buyers or help get them set up online, but we’re not looking to get into the marketing agency model unless we have to. Sales are not down, so no need at this point, but things are changing every week!
Okay, let’s end with some fun stuff – you’ve traveled the globe for years now, where’s your favorite destination?
Fortunately, Manila, Philippines is absolutely one of my favorite destinations to enjoy personally, as well as it having big professional benefits since I learn more about the Filipino culture, enhancing my relationship with my staff. Philippines is beautiful, has great food, and their english is by far the best. Superior to any other asian country and even many European countries. Philippines wins overall. But I’ll throw out one more for all the foodies out there: my second favorite would have to be Saigon, Vietnam is absolutely amazing, and yes hugely because of the food. Some other destinations I’ve been to and would like to spend more time in would include Malaysia, UAE, Malta, and Spain.
I’ve had the same last question for a while – tell us one fun fact about Matt most people don’t already know or can’t easily find online.
I donate monthly to a non-profit called the Innocence Project, which uses DNA evidence to help get wrongfully convicted ‘criminals’ out of jail (Hint: they were always innocent). I mention his now since they just dropped an AMAZING documentary on Netflix called Innocence Files, which of course I’ve already binged and tried not to cry watching it. They do really meaningful work for people who have had their freedom stolen from the government, and also have had society turn their shoulder on them. Check it out if you’re spending extra time at home right now 😉
Thanks again to Matt for taking the time here and if you have any questions for Matt feel free to ask away in the comment section below!