Not all startup founders know that domain marketplaces exist


I recently sent an email around asking startup founders to name the domain name marketplaces they know. The top response was “What’s a domain marketplace?”

Some people confused registrars with marketplaces and gave answers like Go Daddy and 1&1. When I threw out names like Sedo, Afternic, and Uniregistry the vast majority of founders said they had no idea these existed.

If you’re in the domain industry you can probably name ten different places to buy domains, but for most people out there, buying a domain name means going to a registrar and registering a name. When a name is taken, there are usually two paths people take:

  1. Assume the domain is taken and search for another unregistered domain
  2. Look at the WHOIS and email the owner

Like I wrote about yesterday, if the WHOIS is private, most people assume the domain name is not for sale. The vast majority of people have no idea that those private WHOIS email addresses actually pass the email onto the owner.

Once I tell founders about domain marketplaces their eyes light up and they usually start browsing like crazy. When I talk about expired domain names I think I can sometimes hear heads exploding. I’ve heard a number of founders say, “isn’t buying an expired domain like stealing?”

Let’s be honest, if you’ve been buying and selling domain names you know a lot more than the average person. If you haven’t then you might not realize everything that’s going on around you. I recently got into an interesting discussion with a founder who told me they would only ever register a domain, their logic was, “if I can buy a domain for $10 why would I spend more to buy one from a squatter that paid $10 and now wants to sell it for more…”

My response was…”how do you know they paid $10?” to which they said, “because that’s what domain names cost!”

This was an incredibly educated entrepreneur who has raised millions of dollars, they haven’t been living under a rock, but they do represent a real disconnect that people in the domain name industry have with the founders of multi-million dollar startups around the world.

I can’t tell you how many startup founders I’ve exposed to places like the Uniregistry Market, Buy Domains, Flippa, BrandBucket, and the list goes on. It may sound ridiculous but it’s true…and the door swings both ways. I also know a ton of people in the domain world who have never heard of Mattermark, Crunchbase, and AngelList, sites that most startup founder knows like the back of their hand.

Conferences like NamesCon have done an excellent job bringing these world closer together but it’s important to remember that just because you’ve known about something for years, doesn’t mean everyone else has. I think there’s a lot we could do as a community to connect these worlds, it’s one of the reasons why I write this blog and why I’ve always enjoyed helping other founders understand the basics of the domain world.

Over the next few years, I think our two worlds will converge even more, new gTLDs, popular ccTLDs like .AI and .IO, and the growth of cloud-based companies has created the momentum we’re really starting to feel today. It’s just important to remember, if you’re a founder, don’t expect the domain people to know about sites like Crunchbase, and if you’re a domain person don’t expect startup founders to know about places like Sedo.

Just remember, we all have a lot more in common than you’d think, but it’s up to us to connect the two worlds faster because there is a LOT we can do with our powers combined!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • joe February 10, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Days that do not write post but this is interesting your presentation.
    Morgan your market will always be startup and you sell your domain name to them for a major money premium domain, the profit you get is authentic and realistic for your work.
    The incredubility is a way to make us able to. To be it I discover companies that sell domain names through third parties, you are not like that because your friends from this market you pass the information of the new companies of auctions, etc. of domains .
    Lastly, every founder of Startup does not get from a Venture Capital 3 Million USD there are millions of startup that start with $ 5000 to $ 10,000 and all of them look for the domain name in the registrars and pay cheap, all the big companies of over 20 years search The name through a combination of words and then shorten them, to be better known and that your customers know about IBM I when I work in Spain with IBM not know more than the acronyms and Internet did not yet exist.

  • @domains February 10, 2017, 9:35 pm

    Shows how far domain aftermarkets are from mainstream that even techies don’t know about them. Lots of growth still to happen!

  • Mike Sallese February 10, 2017, 10:00 pm

    Excellent article Morgan! It is incredibly clear that these two worlds need each other as startups are the lifeblood of new business and domain names help them brand and interface with new clients, partners, and investors. Awareness is key. The name a startup chooses can be integral to their success. Wholeheartedly agree with @domains that it is still early innings with lots of growth and opportunity ahead!

  • Snoopy February 10, 2017, 10:22 pm

    Most business owners don’t need to know about domain market places. Who goes to say Sedo looking for a domain? Only a domainer would do that.

    Usually people are after something specific and all the need to do is type the domain in or do a search at Godaddy to see availability. It is up to domainers to make sure their names are appropriately listed/parked so a buyer can find them without needing to know anything about “domain marketplaces”.

  • Bob February 11, 2017, 2:19 am

    That’s quite true indeed but I now have started using Flippa Auction in order to move my domains at reasonable or low prices as well as using Twitter account to shout out which may be better than such huge marketplaces. I just prefer not to hold too many domains in my own account by paying that high cost of renewal fees so my idea is just to add new domains that I discover especially two-word or brandable .com’s to my list till I am able to sell sufficient names first before registering more of these except only few really good or trending ones after proper research!

  • Leonard Britt February 11, 2017, 10:17 am

    Yes, the general public is clueless about domain names and domain aftermarkets. Legal expertise from an attorney may be written on a piece of paper which costs a penny but they will charge you $300/hour for the time spent to prepare that document (based on years of education, training and experience). Aftermarket domains represent considerable time and cost because that one domain that a company wants is part of a portfolio of dozens of others which required considerable time and money to obtain and maintain. A poor-quality domain can be registered for $10 but the domains which companies should be branding their businesses on are not in the same league.

  • Eric Lyon February 11, 2017, 2:14 pm

    I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of potential end-users are not knowledgeable about the domain industry. One should be prepared to provide assistance during and after a sale to help them understand. I’ve found that taking a little extra time to explain things and offer help aids in closing a deal easier. When it comes to a potential buyer, trust is an asset. The more honest and helpful you are during the negotiation process, the more authority and trust you build.

    Even if they don’t end up buying the domain from you, you at least made a lasting impression on them and they will not only remember you for possible business later, they will tell a friend about the experience with you.

    That’s priceless. 😉

    • Morgan February 13, 2017, 8:43 pm

      @Eric – spot on and such an important point. People do business with people, if someone doesn’t buy one name from you this time around they might if you do the right things the first time around. I’ve seen too many Domainers burn bridges by being a jerk out of the gate which just leads to someone deciding not to do business with you again in the future.


Leave a Comment