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.