Domain DevelopmentEpik CorporateLifeUncategorized

The Bottom Line

By June 24, 2010 February 27th, 2017 11 Comments

I will turn 43 years old in August. I now have the gray hair, receding hairline and sports injuries to prove it.  Along with the bad stuff comes also the good stuff: wisdom, accountability, reputation, and enduring friendships.  Whether you call it Karma, win-win, or what-goes-around-comes-around, I have learned that it pays to be nice.

Ebay is an interesting case study
To an extent, empowering a generation of internet entrepreneurs is what drives me. When I look at how many people make a living selling on eBay, I think to myself “how cool is that!”. This was a company that started as a hobby and blossomed into a massive global enterprise that created an enormous network of entrepreneurs, the vast majority of which are engaging in legitimate transactions.  The company built an entire business model around personal accountability and reputation. If you are a reputable seller, you get more business and with less transactional friction. It pays to be nice.

At Epik, our goal is to empower thousands of entrepreneurs to become financially independent through domain development.  However, beyond helping people to make money, I am intrigued by the idea of creating a community of like-minded individuals who also want to be part of something bigger — something that can actually make the Internet work better.  The folks who I think share this vision of the future are what I call “Friends of Epik” or FOE. When I first started using the term, even I thought it seemed a little corny. However, it fit the spirit of what we are doing. After all, life is too short not to have friends.

friends

The FOE Letter
Part of making the “Friends of Epik” scalable has been a Friends of Epik letter, or FOE Letter.  This letter is in the form of an email update that I write personally. I send it out a few times a week, often at night. In this letter, I share details about what we are working on, what is working, and also what is not working. I also publish the list of domain names that Epik acquired recently and which we make available on buyer-friendly terms.

Beyond communicating transparently, we try to proactively seek the win-win even if it is not “profit-optimizing” in the short term. A few random examples:

  • Earlier today, Friend of Epik, Mike Ray, part of the prolific Albuquerque Epik mafia, bought the domain name stainlesssteeltable.com from Epik. He paid $249 for the domain with a product portal. The Estibot appraisal here is $9,000.  The name was a drop-catch for Epik and so it was easy to find the win-win here.
  • A number of folks have bought names from us that for whatever reason have been sandboxed by Google or otherwise underperform.  In good faith, we  do further work on the site. If we still can’t get it right, we’ll buy the name back for what the client has into it, or offer a comparable name in trade.
  • A lot of folks in this industry are what I call “Long on Domains. Short on cash”.   In these cases, we have accepted domain names in trade for developing their sites.  We have done many of these deals. It is always a win-win and gets folks who were losing money on renewals once again cash-flowing from their developed sites.
  • We pay out on the 20th of the month whereas our affiliates usually pay us at closer to day 60 or later.  Is there a risk that we get some charge-backs from our affiliates? Sure. Does our CFO like this practice? Not really.  We do it because it is the right thing to do. We do it because it rewards our partners’ success in a timely manner.
  • Occasionally we will miss our deadlines for delivering a developed website, e.g. because of a technical issue or because something slips through the cracks.  If we screw up, we’ll take the hit. For example, we will offer to develop an additional domain for free, do some free SEO work,  provide supplemental content, etc.

This may seem a little novel but clearly it is not. If you have shopped at Nordstrom, Costco or LL Bean, you get it.  These companies make an inherent assumption that people are not evil.  In other words, in business, as in life, you can usually turn the other cheek. I find that 9 times out of 10, it will work out in the long run.  This is not a license to be asleep in the switch or to be a sucker. Rather it is a starting point for how I approach any new acquaintance.  Trust but verify.

Being a Friend has been a win-win
What has Epik gained in return for being a Friend? Lots.

  • People are building their entrepreneurial ventures on our platform.
  • People tell us when we are screwing up and give us advice on how we can be more successful.
  • People bring us deal flow and refer new business.
  • People trust us with their money, usually paying in advance for development.
  • People offer to come work for us, with us, or be acquired by us.

I could go on. I think the point is clear. It pays to be a Friend.


So…

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a Friend.

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Congrats on the advances EPIK has made thus far and the direction the organization continues to move in. Many domain acquisitions and website launches just don’t work out as planned but one’s reputation is priceless. Keep up the good work.

  • business has its ups and downs says:

    mr monster,

    couldnt agree more. as an eagle scout, the saying goes “a scout is loyal, helpful, curious, kind, abendent, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverlant. ”

    treating people the way you want to be treated will pay off well at the end. to bad the domain industry has to many egos, i have this name, what do you have. i this, i that.

    what matters at the end of the day is your doing the right approach and we the domainers will realize this and you will bring more business to your outfit. you think im going email a punk kid with a question and all of a sudden that email will be on his blog? nope, i would rather deal with “true players” who know what there doing, down to earth and get the job done with results. at the end of the day what matters is knowing you made a call, right or wrong and your hard work and dedication will be well rewarded.

    agree on garptrader on reputation is priceless. 100 percent right on. people make mistakes, cant keep looking the past and only forward. i know i have made some major goofs along the way.

    great post rob

  • tricolorro says:

    “I also publish the list of domain names that Epik acquired recently and which we make available on buyer-friendly terms.”

    Rob, Have you resumed mailing out the list?

    I used to get it but I know you were revamping it?

    How does one sign up for the FOE letter?

    Is the FOE letter and the domain acquisition list one and the same?

    Thanks.

    • Rob Monster says:

      @Tricolorro – Sent you some back issues. Check in from time to time. 🙂

      As for getting on the list, anyone can send an email asking to be included. However, keep in mind that Domain Development is not a spectator sport. People who grew up with domain parking are mostly still figuring this out while others are learning quickly how to do it.

  • Troy says:

    I want to verify what Rob said. He fell a little behind on a project for me and offered to throw in some extra work free. I am very happy with that and appreciate his willingness.

    Thanks Rob.

  • Mark says:

    Hey Rob:

    Thanks for demonstrating and adding some badly needed “soul” to the business.

    A brave move that I am sure will bring good karma right back to you.

    We need a lot more of this!!!!

    Cheers,
    Mark

  • Bill says:

    Rob, as I was told on my 43rd, “43 isn’t old…..40 was.”

    Seriously, you bring gravitas and vision to an industry that so far has seen little of either. It should be an interesting ride at the very least.

  • randomo says:

    Yep – I’ve recently become a FOE by giving Epik some keyword domains in exchange for development work on others. Am eager to see how this starts to pan out over the next few months.

    Anyway, Rob, 43 ain’t all that old. Reminds me of when I was that age about 5 years ago … I stumbled on a distance running race for people 50 and over. I joked with one entrant that in only about 7 years I’d be joining them. He looked at me with a gleam in his eye and said, “Rookie!”

  • Louise says:

    Hi, the domains exchange is true – I am also a beneficiary for testing purposes! Thanx, Rob!
    – L

  • Rob get me on this list please.

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