5 With… Phil McKegney, Co-Founder of DomainAgents
DomainAgents is a negotiation platform that was built to help domain buyers and domain owners come to terms on their domain name transactions. Although DomainAgents is a relatively new company, the founders have considerable domain industry experience under their belts.
The way DomainAgents works is fairly simple, but with a unique twist. A buyer will pay a $19.95 fee to submit an offer on a domain name (more or less a fee to qualify the offer just a bit). To entice the domain owner into considering the offer, DomainAgents will pay that person $10 to review the offer, or they can choose to have the $10 donated to charity.
Phil McKegney is the CEO & Co-Founder of DomainAgents Platform Inc., the company that operates DomainAgents. A serial entrepreneur who has developed and helped launch multiple internet based companies and projects on three continents over the past 11 years. He maintains an active investment in one of Europe’s largest ccTLD domain portfolios, and recently founded a company that graduated from a Techstars affiliate startup accelerator.
ES – How does the offer and sale process work? Walk us through a transaction.
PM – For buyers the process often starts on partner sites. When searching for the perfect domain name, the buyer will come across a link to DomainAgents. From the partner site the buyer arrives on a page where they are guided through the process of making an offer on a domain name. They pay $19.95 to qualify their offer and then we go to work putting the owner and buyer in contact with each other within the DomainAgents framework.
The domain owner is contacted notifying them that an offer has been made. The owner passes through a streamlined process of creating an account and is able to view the offer within a matter of seconds. The owner has the option of accepting, countering or declining the opening offer made by the buyer.
The negotiations continue until an agreement has been reached, or one side decides to cancel the process. When the negotiations end successfully, the process is typically handed off to Escrow.com for a secure closing.
Once the negotiation has closed, successfully or not, the domain owner receives a payout from DomainAgents to thank them for taking the time to engage with an offer made via our service.
ES – What makes DomainAgents unique when compared to other services with similar offerings?
PM – Like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. DomainAgents was built from the ground up because first and foremost, we are domain buyers and sellers. We wanted a service that qualified leads, focused on closing sales, and valued our time as domain owners. The existing services just weren’t at the level we needed.
To meet our own expectations, we designed our service around a performance model, going as far as pricing our service essentially at cost. When buyers use promotional coupons that are floating out there, we’ll even take a small loss on offers unless the buyer closes the sale via our service. Because of this, we are extremely results focused.
As domain owners ourselves we know the frustration of tire kicking domain inquiries that end up going nowhere. Time is valuable. We designed the service to have a fair and reasonable upfront fee to filter out the majority of noise and then decided to pay out a portion of this to the domain owner directly to compensate them for their time. For simply entering into negotiations with offers made via our service, domain owners receive their choice of a free DomainAgents credit, $10 via Paypal, or they may request that we donate $10 to a selected charity of their choice; Oxfam, The Red Cross, or domainer favorite WaterSchool.com.
We don’t stop working for domain owners if the first negotiation doesn’t result in a sale. In these situations, domain owners are presented the opportunity to include their name in our sales newsletter at a price that they have defined. Our newsletter is just starting, but is quickly starting to grow into something quite substantial.
ES – Who are the people behind DomainAgents and what domain industry experience do they have?
There is a great multi-faceted team working behind the scenes at DomainAgents.
Adam Strong and I co-founded the company at the beginning of the year. The two of us have a long (10 year+) history in the domain name arena and own tens of thousands of names between the two of us. Adam has been an active broker for many years, while I leaned more to the development side of things. We’ve worked together on smaller projects over the years and decided that DomainAgents would be a great project to really take a run at.
Richard Lau (who most people reading this know of from posts like this one joined as an investor and director shortly after.
The primary team is rounded out by Hicham our CTO who has worked with me for nearly 5 years now on a number of startups. Ryan who joins us in an operations capacity, formally with the Yellow Pages Group Canada. And Eric who is leading owner relations and outbound sales.
ES – Why should someone use a DomainAgents landing page rather than a direct “for sale” lander?
PM – It’s true that anyone could put up a simple lead collection page and many do so. However what we’re really doing beyond paying owners $10 to simply negotiate, is making the sales process more efficient at a level that would be difficult for an individual domain owner to achieve.
Domainers are ambitious. Without any outside help we’ll often try do everything connected to our domain portfolio, from buying, to developing and everything in between It’s a hard job. At a certain point in order to scale, or simply to ease the work load, some tasks can be delegated. This is where we really come in to the scene for domainers. We’ve built a team whose singular job is to get domain buyers and owners negotiating and to close sales.
Domain owners are in control of their own negotiations, but work within our framework. This makes the sales negotiation process efficient, secure and easy.
We reduce the noise so domain owners can focus on running their business.
ES – Do you represent the buyer or seller in transactions, and do you assist with negotiations?
PM – One thing that we’ve found is that we deal with a large number of end user buyers and individual domain owners. Because of this, there are times when transactions require a fair amount of hand holding to close. From step by step phone calls explaining the transfer process to general assistance with transactions.
We attempt to remain a neutral third party in the transaction and as such we do not assist with negotiations directly and do not provide guidance on pricing. When assistance is requested on pricing we focus on educating the buyer or seller rather than directly inject ourselves into the middle of the negotiations. We do this by pointing them to resources such as DNjournal, Namebio, or Elliot’s blog of course.