eCoupons.com cashes in with category-defining domain names — in the U.S. and abroad.
Matthew Cheng’s launch into the eCoupons business got a big boost in 2001. He wanted to get the ideal domain name for an ecoupons site, and a once-in-a-dot.com-bubble opportunity came about.
eCoupons.com was an existing company that was shut down as the dot.com bubble crashed. The domain name expired and dropped, and was quickly snatched up by Michele Dinoia. (Dinoia owns a number of domains, some of which have landed him in hot water.)
Cheng contacted Dinoia to try to negotiate a purchase, but it was harder than he thought it would be.
“We were negotiating back and forth but he kept upping the price,” said Cheng. “Finally I was like ‘you know what, $10,000 is as far as I go’.” The two men settled on that price.
After graduating with his bachelors degree in computer information systems in 2005, Cheng started working full time on the site. He also realized he needed to expand his network to include country-specific coupon sites. He started buying eCoupons country code domains for countries from Sweden to Italy to Singapore.
Some negotiations for country code domains were easier than others. The first country code domain Cheng bought was eCoupons.co.uk, which he paid $15,000 for. He also bought eCoupons.com.au for $10,000.
Those weren’t easy, but a lot simpler than eCoupons.de.
Cheng negotiated back and forth for eCoupons.de. After nearly giving up, the owner of the domain reopened negotiations. The two parties still couldn’t come to terms on a price, so Cheng suggested a trade: Cheng would trade his domain name ens.com (which he had purchased for $19,000) in an even trade for eCoupons.de. The owner of the German ccTLD agreed.
All together, Cheng’s eCoupons sites pull in about 500,000 visitors a month and gross about a half million dollars a year. Cheng clearly “gets” the power of a category-killer domain name. But his country code strategy shows he also understands a thing or two about global e-commerce.