An Oregon-based lead generation website builder has paid $600,000 to acquire the domain name Carrot.com, upgrading from its previous domain OnCarrot.com.
Carrot founder Trevor Mauch tells the full story on next week’s Domain Name Wire Podcast.
The company started by offering lead generation websites for real estate investors, but Mauch had a bigger vision for more verticals. He knew he couldn’t pigeon-hole his company with a specific domain so he went with Carrot.
“I pulled back and said, okay, what should a website be for a small business?” he told Domain Name Wire. “It shouldn’t be a brochure. It shouldn’t be just something they land on to get information…it should be a carrot, right? It should be a customer carrot. It should be something that you dangle in front of them and it attracts them. They bite it.”
This was 2014 and Carrot.com was long-since registered. So Mauch settled on OnCarrot.com.
Mauch knew this domain wasn’t ideal.
Over time, he grew tired of explaining his email address to customers. Then a big gut check happened at a conference the company sponsored.
“50% of the people that were [at the conference] came up to us and said, ‘We love Oncarrot. We absolutely love OnCarrot.'”
Even though the only branding the company had that said OnCarrot was its domain name, customers were referring to the company as OnCarrot instead of Carrot. There was a big brand conflict.
Mauch’s adventure buying the domain name started early on. He researched the owner of the domain and found it was artist Michael Kupka. He tried to buy the domain but couldn’t get a response from Kupka.
A bit later, to his shock, Mauch discovered that a venture-backed company in California managed to buy the domain. He figured his chance to acquire the domain was over.
In the ups and downs of his multi-year attempt to get the domain, this down was very short. The California business failed quickly and Mauch tried to buy the domain from them.
He offered $100,000 (“Which I thought was crazy”) and the seller said it still owed $250,000 on the domain. It turns out they had a payment plan with Kupka.
Last year the domain name expired and went up for auction on GoDaddy Auctions. Mauch was back in the game…only to have the auction canceled before it ended.
It turns out that the artist Michael Kupka had passed away from cancer. After he died the domain expired and went to auction.
That’s when a couple of domain industry veterans came into the picture. Jamie Zoch and Bill Sweetman tracked down the owner’s relatives to help them renew the domain.
At that point, Mauch reached out to Zoch and Sweetman to explain his company’s situation and get guidance. Sweetman runs the domain broker-buyer service Name Ninja and helped Mauch acquire the domain.
After acquiring the domain last fall (on a payment plan similar to the last buyer), Mauch forwarded Carrot.com to OnCarrot.com. Today, International Carrot Day, the company flipped the switch to make its website Carrot.com.
One of Mauch’s key takeaways from the past five years is to turn to the experts. He wishes he would have hired a domain broker early on.
“A good learning lesson is that you engage the experts,” he said. “The same way that we tell our clients, they engage us as the experts. You should be engaging people that do this every single day as the experts. It would have saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Listen to Mauch’s full story on Monday’s Domain Name Wire Podcast.
Rick Schwartz says
Fantastic sory and the reality of branding and marketing when it gets out of your own control.
Another “Carrot” mention on TechCrunch today with $30million funding and using Carrot.co.
Might be worth trying to interview them aswell?
I acquired the exact-match domain for my small company a few months ago for the $30 Billion global market we serve. Managed to negotiate a price that was 10% of the estibot value (still paid 5 fig’s) and am now mapping out how I want the front-end and back-end to look and function before engaging developers. Point is, this domain will instantly make our firm stand-out and be better able to compete with long established behemoths…so I get why the guy paid $600K for this domain.
Michael Cyger says
Great summary, Andrew. I can’t wait to hear the story on the podcast!
Andrew Allemann says
One of my favorite podcasts…stay tuned!
Looking forward to it.
“The Best Place For Everything Baby”
Doron Vermaat says
Great story indeed. I am looking forward to the podcast and hear all the details.
Really great example of branding, great name, great concept, great little domain adventure there – and, this is what one of the “experts” is going to get when someone hires “the experts” and someone who smells like an undercover “expert” comes along trying to get one of my best with lowballing:
Dude, you are the weirdest thing posting on these domain blogs…cringe-weird.
No, but you just want to say that, and since my point is so completely clear you are clueless if you honestly don’t get it, though it’s so unlikely that you don’t.
Or better yet, you one of these very types of people who gets hired to come along trying to get a lowball price for your client? 😉 If so, get your groove on and let’s play it again:
Andrew, one in moderation for my “friend” here now. Maybe it didn’t like me reposting the YT vid meant for lowballing buyer brokers et al. 😉
And PS Durp, never seen you before but you’ve apparently sure seen me, why is that, lol.
Chris Zuiker says
Looking forward to the podcast.
Definitely interested to hear this one.
Why was the auction cancelled?
Bonsu Joshua says
Waiting on the juicy details
He should acquire stick.com as well to complete the set!
The acquisition price was quite low in my view, I think it would have got close to that level in the wholesale market.
I’d say the buyer is very fortunate with all these twists and turns, especially that the seller was likely quite motivated to sell (being a deceased estate type situation).
LOOOOOOOOOOOL! You’ll say “quite low” for this, but “maybe $1.5 million” for Shopping.com. Snoop, ya gotta lay off those cannabis treats they’ve been putting in your bowl.
How many companies call themselves “shopping”?
Doron Vermaat says
Honestly clueless, or just disingenuous? Don’t bother…
Shopping.com is an amazing name but definitely not as amazing as http://www.Ebaby.com
Bob HawkesBob Hawkes says
Fantastic story with many lessons about branding and domain names. Thanks!
Abid Aziz says
I wonder how much commission the seller company earned
Bill Sweetman says
@ Abid, are you asking about Name Ninja’s brokerage commission? If so, the answer is we gave the domain owner’s estate a very preferential brokerage rate due to the special circumstances.
I remember carrot.com at godaddy auctions last year. What a lost that would have been.