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Brands.International : An interview with the founder of a modern #domain branding company

Marek Eckhaus is the CEO and founder of Brands.International, operating from the beautiful Prague in the Czech Republic.

Marek’s domain investment company works closely with business owners, domain investors, and marketing experts worldwide. Brands.International delivers innovative strategies to increase their business, achieve high ROI, and boost their online presence using relevant new domain names.

We interviewed Marek to learn more about his company, strategy, and deliver the fun story about the recent acquisition of the domain Sex.link.

DomainGang: Hi Marek, welcome aboard. What is the focus of your domain investing company, Brands.International?

Marek Eckhaus: Thanks for having me. I really like your website, and read your articles and interviews with great interest, so I am pleased to be in one as well.

My company focuses 100% on the new generation of domain names (also called new gTLD domain names, or new gTLDs), which are names like Alien.Life, Paradise.World, Wealth.Expert or Sex.Link.

I built Brands.International for 3 main categories of clients: business owners, domain investors, and online marketing experts, to provide them some of the best new domain names in one place. For me, all 3 different groups of clients are very important, as I believe they all can greatly benefit from high-quality new domain names.

In particular, Business Owners can get the beautiful, short, and clean world-class domain name from us, and use it as a new brand for their online business, this getting more interest, leads, clicks, and engagement from their customers and clients.

If you are Domain Investor, Investment Fund Administrator, Family Office, or Wealth Manager, we can help you with investment in a new generation of domain names, which in return can create resilient and safe diversification of your investment portfolio. And we also love to work with Marketing Experts, to share information together about how the new generation of meaningful, keyword-rich domain names can empower online marketing campaigns they run for their clients.

DomainGang: Do you prefer to invest in meaningful “keyword+TLD” domains as opposed to generics or brandables?

Marek Eckhaus: I definitely prefer meaningful, unique, category-defining keyword-rich domain names.

A combination of keyword+TLD is of most importance in my opinion. So some of my favorite names I own in this category are Realty.Rentals, Express.News, Enjoying.Life, Short.Codes or Printed.Media. You can see that while TLDs (.rentals, .news, .life, .codes, or .media) are all very different here, the combination of keyword+TLD makes very good sense, is category-defining and there is huge raw keyword equity behind such domain names.

It is not a coincidence that some very good sales of new domain names (like vacation.rentals which sold for $500,300, home.loans which sold for $500,000 or my.life which sold for $175,000) are exactly from this category of domain names – frequently used, semantically meaningful pure English phrases with large business potential, which are very easy to remember.

Saying that I like to invest also in new gTLD brandables (for those who are not familiar with this term, new gTLD brandables are new domain names which can create strong global brands, but where keyword does not necessarily need to have a very strong semantic connection with TLD). Some of my favorite names from this category are names like Crypto.Garden, Fitness.Ninja or Cars.Click.

Although, as can be seen from those examples, those are not category defining domain names, they are very nice and memorable, with clear semantic meaning. For me to invest in such names, there still should be at least some semantic connection between keyword and TLD, and at least one more strong factor which is in favor of such name (for example, Crypto.Garden has a very strong, trending keyword “Crypto” and the connection with .garden is not bad in this case, Fitness.Ninja has definite appeal for a large pool of end-users and can create a nice website address for a fitness app, and Cars.Click is short, symmetrical and with alliteration).

Remark related to the last name: I personally really love when names are short, symmetrical and with alliteration when selecting investment domain names, as those usually means such domain name is even more memorable, can be pronounced easily and with a nice rhythm, which is always very good for everyday business use.

DomainGang: Is your domain inventory stronger in some TLDs than others? What are those?

Marek Eckhaus: although I focus on good combinations between keyword and TLD, there are some TLDs where I have much more inventory, compared to other TLDs. Some of my strongest are .life, .world and .live. There are some complex reasons as to why I was able to get many good names in those extensions, but that is a very long story.

In short, I can just tell that in my opinion, it is worth investing in TLDs which have great numbers of registrations (so there is a good public adoption already), make good semantic sense to most people, and are operated by large, well run global registries. Which is exactly the case of .life, .world or .live TLDs.

DomainGang: About Sex.Link – a premium registry domain – what is the story behind its acquisition from Uniregistry?

Marek Eckhaus: Yes, Sex.Link is one of the most favorite domain names in my portfolio. The name was acquired from Uniregistry in 2017 by another domain investor, and I purchased it at the aftermarket from this domain investor in 2020. It is one of my favorite names also because of its renewal fee: with a $110 / year renewal fee, it is very easy to hold long term, considering the quality and ROI potential of the name.

So if you ask how I got the name, the process was following. One day I got the email from this domain investor, asking me if I am interested in the name. I know them from domain forums, LinkedIn and we made a few deals previously together, so this is a known person to me and I felt comfortable purchasing a name from them.

I am a large supporter of new gTLDs and new gTLD community, so I am getting nice offers from fellow new gTLD domain investors from time to time. They held domain name for 3 years, they had only a smaller portfolio of domain names at the time they approached me, wished to divest and they knew I would be interested and have a better capacity to resell this amazing domain name in future.

When it comes to negotiation, and I see great domain with the reasonable renewal fee, from a reliable seller with clear domain name history which I can track, the only remaining question is the acquisition price. My advantage is that because I am getting a lot of offers, I am able to pick some names for very good prices, while I am rejected many offers as well. So how the “good” acquisition price is estimated?

First, you need to realize that in domain names, it is unwise to buy names where you can not make at least 10x – 20x ROI in a time period of a few years. So in order to estimate what the fair acquisition price should be, you need to check what the realistic selling prices of similar domains are.

Now, when it comes to domain name investing, ROI, and profit, the pure keyword “sex” is one of the strongest keywords you can invest in. Here are the numbers of sales achieved so far:

  • Sex.Com (has sold for $14,000,000 in 2005)
  • Sex.Xxx (has sold for $3,000,000 in 2014)
  • Sex.Net (has sold for $454,500 in 2006)
  • Sex.Live (has sold for $160,000 in 2016)

So those are numbers I saw, and the only question then remains – can I use these sales to assess what can be achieved with domain name Sex.Link, in terms of a realistic selling price? From a semantic and the end-user point of view, is Sex.Link better or worse than Sex.Live or Sex.XXX?

And as a domain investor, you need to answer such a question honestly, otherwise, you will be constantly losing your money.

So in this case, my personal view is that Sex.Link is semantically on par with names like Sex.Live and is even better than Sex.Xxx. So I can use those domains in my analysis. Of course, I need to exclude the sale of Sex.Com from the analysis, as .Com is a very well established TLD and is currently no.1 TLD. But, .XXX or .Live TLDs are in a similar league as .Link for the “sex” keyword in my opinion. This gives me some price estimates for Sex.Link for 2020, which I think is at a minimum of $125,000. This is the price which I believe makes a very good deal for the potential buyers, considering the quality of the name, and I can part with the name for this price as well in 2020.

And so using my 10x – 20x expected ROI expectations on end-user price of $125,000, gave me the fair acquisition price which I felt comfortable to pay to the fellow domain investor for this name: which is price somewhere between $6,250 – $12,500 dollars.

In the end, I paid even less than the minimum of this range, as I was able to negotiate the price which was better then what I am considering fair. On other side of the things, the seller will have the opportunity to do business with me in the future, and they know that. So it is win-win for everyone – I get a great domain name to my portfolio for less than a fair acquisition price, and the seller got very quick liquidity which was probably important for them, otherwise, they would not sell the domain to me.

This small acquisition story shows that it is very important to have a good name in the domain industry, be approachable, and have good relationships with people who are investing in the same asset class as you do. I see so many domain investors who are having very bad manners, are not approachable and are not nice, are mean and rude – which results in a fact that no one want to do business with them, and they miss a lot of opportunities.

DomainGang: Do you lease or sell your domains, and what is your favorite venue – and why?

Marek Eckhaus: I prefer to sell our domain names (while we also offer leasing possibilities and various flexible financing options), while I plan to develop some of them in time as well. To connect with our clients, I use mostly LinkedIn, which works most effectively for me. LinkedIn is fantastic, as everyone acts very professionally there, and when you have something good to offer, and it is relevant for people, you get a space you need.

Classical domaining venues, do not work much for me – I prefer to know who do I speak to when negotiating, so when the other party is anonymous or using various “stealth acquisition techniques” or brokers, it is not working so much for me. Being open and honest or having a lot of questions (which is common when someone acquires new domain names) does not mean, at least in my case, that I am going to increase a domain name price – usually, we have BIN price set-up to most of our domain names anyway, so I personally consider all “games” a waste of time for both parties. Personal approach and personal outreach via email are always most pleasant for me.

DomainGang: Are new gTLDs known and popular in Europe, and what is the general public’s reaction?

Marek Eckhaus: I spend most of my time in Prague and I am always pleased to see new domain names outside, on the billboard, on television, and I have noticed a lot of them. I think people will remember a good domain name with a meaning very easily, and generally accepts them very well. Large companies are accepting them, tens of thousands of online businesses are already using them, and there are particular some niches, like crypto, blockchain, defi, and apps where they are very common now. In Europe, as everywhere else in the world, I would say people generally like something that is fresh and modern, which new gTLDs definitely are.

DomainGang: Your top 10 domains in terms of brand strength?

Marek Eckhaus: We have some very strong domain names like Business.Place, Express.News or above mentioned Sex.Link, where the business potential is obvious. But for me, I personally like most let’s say, poetical domain names, like Bring.Love, Lord.Gives, Highest.Faith or Enjoying.Life. Those names are very unique and have large universal and positive appeal. My most favorite domain from all the new gTLD domain names is Enjoying.Life – I still can not believe that from 7+ billion people on this planet I happen to have this very nice semantic phrase in my portfolio. This makes me very happy.

In general, everyone who is longer in domain investing will know that there is only a very limited supply of very good new domain names. This can be confusing for some people, as there are so many extensions now, and so they think there must be also tons of good domain names available. But when you think more deeply about it, you can usually create really only a few very good domains in each extension.

We might have now around 1000 different TLDs available, but if, in average, you can create 70 VERY good domain names per TLD (and even this is over-exaggeration for most TLDs, honestly), in summary, you are ending up with 70 000 VERY good domain names in new gTLD space. Compare that with more than 7,000,000,000 people on our planet – and that gives you 1 very good domain name per 100,000 people. This scarcity then of course explains why people paid half a million dollars for names like Vacation.Rentals or Home.Loans – they knew they have only one shot to basically dominate their business niche, and they understood very well the financial potential of raw keyword equity which is intrinsically present in those domain names.

Now I, of course, do understand that if someone is very successful real estate agent named, let’s say Lisa Maria Rundwlowakya (just an example), she can easily register LisaMariaRundwlowakya.com, sell properties from that website, and be basically done with it – but choosing a great, easily memorable brand and name for her business from day one, something like Dream.Property or Premium.Property, can potentially turn that 1 person enterprise to a very successful global business.

DomainGang: Anything else you’d like to add about your operations and general approach to domain investing?

Marek Eckhaus: I would encourage business owners worldwide to be open to new ideas and trends. Study, learn, have curiosity, and most importantly: please get your great global brand and domain name from day one, be it amazing .com name, or amazing new gTLD name. Never ever start your online effort with mediocre domain name and brand, simply get the best possible brand you can, as this decision with great support you in your endeavors every day!

Also, prior to any major purchase, speak with your accountants: from my experience, buyers are not aware of this: there are depreciation rules in many countries worldwide which can be applied to the purchase of your new domain name. So, depending on your jurisdiction, you will be able to create yearly tax credits as large as 1% – 6% of the purchase price, which can be applied directly to your company profits. Which means (in normal language) that your domain name will pay itself in 15-30 years. So great domain name will not only bring you better global brand, more leads, more business, higher ranking, more customers, fewer costs, and various other advantages, but it will also pay for itself by applying correct accounting rules. Of course, you must consult everything with your accountants first.

The great, category-defining, keyword-rich domain name will deliver everything discussed above for your business, and in addition, it will be a great investment asset for you as well, as values of unique domain names will grow in time. This dual nature of domains is something that is not easily replicated elsewhere, and this is the reason a great domain name can be the best investment in your life.

Thank you for your time, and I sincerely wish everyone good luck in whatever you try to do.

DomainGang: Marek, many thanks for taking the time to share with us such important information about your company’s background and strategy – wishing you lots of success as well!

Visit Brands.International.


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