[Disclaimer: I was a part of the organizing team at WDD. However, the following coverage was written by one of our attendees who also happens to be a blogger. This is an independent perspective. We thought it was nice to publish it on InForum. Hope you like it.]
The first ever World Domain Day – the goings and rewards
WDD [World Domain Day TM], organised by IDOA [Indian Domain Owners Association], an India based consortium of web entrepreneurs, domain owners and service providers, was held on 24th August 2014 for the first time ever, in Hyderabad, was a runaway success.
I was a party to it and knew that the primary objective of organising the WDD was to promote domain names, educate the participants on online entrepreneurship. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the amount of knowledge on offer in the form of great camaraderie of networking and had the good fortune of meeting many venture capitalists, domain investors, start-ups and many web professionals and service providers. The atmosphere was quite upbeat and chirpy.
With over 325 professionals attending, of which, about 50 odd from the academic community, the average age indicated that online entrepreneurship is the future for at least a decade or more and is taking off quite well. It was quite pleasing and surprising to see people from various spheres of life – industrialists, doctors, lawyers and even tattoo artists coming forth to learn about taking their practice or business online and participating with a lot of vigour. Not to mention, the talks were quite awesome and fully informative.
The largest domain marketplace
The day began with participant registration and a lot of prelim material being distributed for pre-read. The talks began with Patricja Krol and Dildeep Singh from SEDO, a Germany based domain marketplace, world’s largest. This pair of business and technology builders kept the audience spell-bound for over 20 minutes and mainly dealt with the importance of domain names in building a successful international business online. This discussion, albeit, not so much in detail, embedded a spark of confidence in the minds of the young would be entrepreneurs attending the WDD.
Patricja is a seasoned professional with domaining experience of over seven years, is capable of negotiating in English, German and Polish and is credited with many a 7 figure domain name sales. Dildeep Singh is a UK based Punjabi professional based in Germany and is a B2B solution builder.
The most successful domainer
Next came, the video conference with Mike Mann, the most successful domain investors ever. He is the founder and chairman of Grassroots.org (501c3). Mike, as far as I know is more of a idolised name in domaining and is known to have founded successful and active, for-profit online businesses like Phone.com, SEO.com, Skateboards.com, DomainMarket.com, Yield Software, BrowserMedia, Graphics.net, and countless others.
Mike gave a very insightful commentary on his evolution as a successful domain investor and how he turned into one, creating a few successful businesses on the way to becoming the most successful domainer ever. He stressed on the investment point of view of owning and nurturing domains for future use and how a generic domain can come in handy for a business on a lookout for it. He was bang-on with keyword based domains and stressed on sticking to .com domains only to maximise value. All in all, he was a hit with the audience who hit him hard with questions.
Despite several suggestions, Mike remained focussed on his partiality to the .COM domains, presumably because he made his fortune with them and .COM did have a 20 year head start in the domaining business. Although, many have argued the same with Mike as well as other successful domainers, .COMmercial still seems to have preference over other domain extensions, one, owing to its universal popularity and appeal, two, because the thinner the keywords get, the greater the margin for a domainer in terms of profits.
The Indian Governmental efforts and the future
Now, the stage was set for the Chief Guest, Dr. Govind. This brought on the discussion to a leadership level where a lot of technology was involved as far as domain names and their registry’s and registrars were concerned. Out of it, Dr. Govind spoke about the initiative of GOI to introduce Indian language domain names and the new extension of .bharat in seven Indian languages. While the discussion was spot-on and quite interesting several questions cropped from the audience about the software rendering for Indian languages, hardware compatibility with 7 Indian languages and visitor’s distress in typing the name in and how relevant it will be for international business to have an Indian language domain name. All questions were taken care of by Dr. Govind on either side of a sumptuous buffet lunch that set a new gastronomical standard, tickled the tongues and ignited even greater discussions and interaction in the networking lounge.
Dr. Govind is the CEO, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), and the other member of ICANN-GAC from India.
Keeping aside the discussions, the slides were kind of fast-forwarded, probably owing to too much technical jargon involved and entrepreneurs, as young the participants were, were not there to learn technology but to learn the generic environment in which they would be facing challenges in. The appeal for Indian domain names was quite average owing to certain doubts and conditions which did not have a proper answer since the developmental stage has just began.
Only two questions went unanswered in this fruitful discussion. One, how can we expect an American or a Brazilian to visit an Indian Domain name unless he was clicking on a hyperlink, obviously he will not be interested to type it in [generic]. Second, why are .in domains not available for resale like almost all other domain extensions? [Asked by a renowned domainer from Hyderabad]. All in all, it was a great insight into how the domain eco-system works in India and what the future plans are?
Anything.Anything: Rise of The New GTLDs
Following up was the .CLUB classic domain name recommendation from Jeffrey Saas of the Barpoint.com* fame. He has worked very hard with the .CLUB domain and was the key to acquiring and marketing it worldwide. He spoke about the reasons of getting a .CLUB domain for entertainment themed companies and even having an additional .CLUB domain for regular businesses in order to have more participation from customers and involvement in various marketing schemes. All in all, a marketing effort to sell .CLUB domain with insights into its use and how it could shore goodwill bottom-line for an existing business.
Jeffery gave the unique marketer’s presentation topped with figures and scalable future profitability using the .CLUB domain extension. His examples in quoting the possible domain names were top class. The only flipside as I see in this part was that he associated mostly with larger brands and using the .CLUB extension as more of an extra portal for customer-centric marketing and not as a lead domain extension for building and nurturing brands and businesses.
*Jeffrey Saas, CMO, .CLUB Domains is credited with co-founding of several start-ups including the mobile commerce pioneer, Barpoint.com in 1999.
Jeff's intro was then followed by a panel discussion on the new TLDs with representatives from major stakeholders. There was Gajendra from Afilias, Anand Vora from Donuts, Jeff, and Karn from Radix - together with more than $75 million invested in domain names and related technologies.
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