An interview with Shaun Smith, who just acquired JiuJitsu.com on a creative payment plan.
Shaun Smith locked down the premium domain JiuJitsu.com for $75,000 about month ago…for much less than $75k. Here’s his story.
First things first, what’s Jiu Jitsu? Martial arts pops into my head, but that’s all I know.
Jiu Jitsu originated in Japan and migrated to Brazil in the early 19th century. Unlike, say, Karate, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) there is no striking. It’s primarily focused on joint locks, using leverage, grappling and ground fighting. The Japanese translation is “gentle art” because it does not use force. In the last 20 years, the form has exploded because of its effectiveness in UFC and Mixed Martial Arts.
Apart from buying the “category killer” .COM, what’s your involvement with Jiu Jitsu?
I’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu for 14 years. It took me 10 years to achieve a 1st degree Black Belt. Beyond that, I have been teaching and working with other Jiu Jitsu athletes and instructors to create training programs. Been selling those around the world for close to 5 years.
Still competing in tournaments?
Not right now, although I may again at some point in the future. Competed around 100 times in my life and won gold and other medals dozens of times.
Will JiuJitsu.com rebrand an existing website, or is it a new project?
This is really an evolution of my current business. We have already sold $1 million in instructional BJJ programs, but my dream is to expand beyond the small market share that I have right now with a limited number of instructors and create a platform where the entire community can grow together. The idea is that we’ll become the global leader in online Jiu Jitsu and martial arts instruction; and from there we’ll just keep adding products that appeal to that base market, meanwhile spreading the word about martial arts to a global audience.
When did you first begin considering the domain name?
I first found out about it from a friend of mine. He told me JiuJitsu.com was up for auction and suggested I try to get it. And when I saw it, I immediately knew that this was the chance I had been waiting for to unite the community in one place. From the time I heard about it until the time I bought it, that was about 3 weeks. There was never a doubt in my mind that I had to have it. I would have paid $750,000 for it, to be honest; luckily it only cost me $75K!
Did you win the Flippa auction outright or negotiate later?
No, the auction didn’t have a lot of activity. I made the deal with the broker directly. We went back and forth, and I got them to agree to a structured payout deal. We have 8 months to pay it off. The clock is ticking with the majority due towards the end of the year.
Payment over time is an option that isn’t used by domain buyers and sellers as often as could be. How big a difference did it make in your decision making?
It was the deciding factor. I would have paid whatever the full asking price was, as long as I could secure the domain with as little as possible down. I don’t have $75k lying around. This is my full time gig to provide for my 2 daughters and wife. But I knew that if I could secure the domain for as little as possible up front, I could then find a way to get the project funded given my existing business. So it made all the difference in the world.
For most people on the planet, $75,000 is nothing to sneeze at. So this domain purchase is both an investment and a risk for you. What makes it worthwhile?
I want to do something great with my life and develop a great product – one that helps people around the world and preserves this art form for future generations. Sure, it’s a huge risk and a big cost. But I’ve dedicated the last 14 years of my life to this art. Jiu Jitsu has made me who I am today. Plus, Jiu Jitsu is my business. When I was presented with this opportunity, I knew I had to double down and make the most of it.
During 2014 and 2015, there has been a lot of discussion within the domain industry about hundreds of new domain endings (TLDs), ranging from .ENTERPRISES and .XYZ to .CLUB and .NINJA. With so many of those competing for your attention as a buyer, why did you gravitate toward .COM? Even assuming .COM, JiuJitsuPlanet.com is available for $10. Why was JiuJitsu.com your first choice, in spite of its $75,000 price tag?
Because of the credibility that simple name JiuJitsu.com brings. It just stands out. People take notice with a name like that. If I say, “Hey, my name is Shaun; I run JiuJitsu.com”, everyone takes a second look. Whereas, if I say I own JiuJitsuPlanet.club, then it’s just another domain that doesn’t stand apart. It’s all about credibility in the mind of the end user really. Once there is traction and the site is moving, people have more confidence in JiuJitsu.com.
Personally, I agree that there is an air of authority around the name JiuJitsu.com. It looks and sounds definitive and will almost certainly open doors for you. Many of us reading DomainNameWire.com are domain investors (buyers and sellers). A common complaint, from our perspective, is that most of the people who inquire about purchasing domains we own have unrealistically low price expectations. For instance, offers of $20 or $5. Even with rational arguments under our belts, we have a hard time persuading people to see the value we ourselves see. Why do you think you saw that value while others don’t?
I suppose it’s a matter of belief in the market. Also understanding how to monetize traffic. One thing I know well is the value of credibility when it comes to people purchasing online. For me personally, I knew that this domain would mean a long-term boost that far outweighs a $75k cost over time. But for people who don’t have the ability to monetize, it probably would be a very bad idea to buy a domain name for that amount of money.
There’s a good deal of traffic in this case too. Google monthly exact search volumes: 245,000 [Jiu Jitsu], 60,000 [BJJ], 49,500 [Brazilian Jiu Jitsu], and so forth. OK, the easy question: Why learn BJJ?
With Jiu Jitsu, a 100-pound person can subdue and control a 300-pound person after one class. For sure, it’s a great way to gain confidence, get in shape, and make friends.
Cool. Thanks, Shaun.