John Rampton is a self confessed serial entrepreneur, connector, writer and angel investor.
So when he purchased the premium domain name Due.com [on the Flippa marketplace for $130,000 last March], we were excited when he told us about his plans to build “the best place to pay bills, when bills are due.”
We recently sat down with John to chat about his successful launch, and how the business is performing so far.
Building Due.com – the #1 invoicing software for small business
John told us that he can “only write enough code to be dangerous,” so rather than building the software (and site) from the ground up, he acquired an invoicing company with the objective of using it as the foundation for Due.com.
He explained, “I had become friends with this particular invoicing business over the years and noticed they had a really cool product, but they didn’t know how to market the business. I’m not a great product person, but I’m really good at marketing things.”
The opportunity John saw was simple: continue building and supporting a great product offering, but grow it exponentially with the help of his marketing chops. From that point forward it was simply a matter of moving the existing business across to the Due.com domain and rebranding it with the new Due logo and color palette.
Because the invoicing business already had an existing database of over 40,000 clients, Due.com launched and became – virtually overnight – a revenue-generating business.
And John was only just getting started.
Marketing and growth
The marketing strategy for Due.com is, at its core, content-based.
The business publishes daily content on its blog and outside sources, featuring business-savvy tips [Four Ways to Build A Business That Supports Your Life] and even inspirational quotes.
John also pens work for his personal blog and large publications such as Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur and Time. He speaks his mind on entrepreneurship and marketing, and shares more personal reflections of particular successes and failures.
“I bring into my writing my experiences and what I do, and those who come across these posts naturally end up at Due,” John explains.
In addition to their robust content arm, John and his team are constantly developing strategic partnerships to grow their user base. One partnership in particular wielded a co-branded survey and infographic which brought in over 2,000 new users in a single day.
User acquisition strategy
A sizable quotient of Due’s user acquisition strategy is its focus on acquiring businesses of a similar scope and merging these companies’ existing customer bases and technology.
John explained how the Flippa marketplace has provided a myriad of digital assets that fit this mold.
“After having success purchasing the first invoicing company, we went out and started acquiring other invoicing and time tracking businesses. Flippa has been a great source for these type of deals. I’ve spent a total of $5,000 on 4 different acquisitions which have brought in over 40,000 new customers.”
John also uses his actual product as a customer acquisition channel. Since Due.com is an invoicing tool, he uses those invoices as a way to acquire new business — over thirty new users per day. “Once we bring the user in and they start sending invoices out, typically for every three invoices that are sent out, that brings in one more user. Almost every new user over the course of five to six weeks adds one additional user.”
The Premium Domain
The big question about Due.com is: what impact has having such an ultra premium domain name had on the business?
“Having a premium domain has helped tremendously, I would say by a factor of at least 10x. When you have a premium domain name, people recognize that and it gives you instant credibility,” John explained.
He added, “When I get introduced as the founder and CEO of Due.com, people think we’ve been in business for 10-15 years just because of the domain.”
In addition to building trust and credibility, John says that owning and operating the premium domain name — particularly a .com — has increased his response rate by at least 50% when pitching stories to journalists and reporters. The SEO benefits are immeasurable, as well.
What about the cost? Six figures isn’t an easy amount of money to part with. John’s advice: “Spend the extra money and work whatever deal you can to get a good .com domain name because in the long run, it’ll be worth every cent.”
By the numbers
Due continues to scale — it has amassed 78,000 users in its first nine months, and will be profitable in its next two. John and his team have even bigger plans to expand the business beyond just invoicing and time tracking, hoping to venture full-on into the payments space.
The Flippa Team wishes the crew much success, and will be following up in due time…get it?…to see how they’re tracking.
The Domain Catalog has been updated to your Flippa Domain Portfolio !
With over 60% more sales going through Flippa in 2015, it’s never been a better time or easier to upload, sort, filter and update your domain portfolio. Thanks to your feedback, here’s what’s new:
Easily upload 1 or 1 Million Domains
You can now add over 500 domains using our CSV Upload Service.
Improved Portfolio Management
You can now easily filter sort & search through your portfolio as well as bulk update prices across multiple domains.
All listed domains include access to a free Domain Sales Page, allowing you to redirect your domain’s direct traffic to increase visitors, bids and sales.
You may have read that Flippa facilitated the sale of the premium domain Due.com for $130,000 last week. In this exclusive interview, we talk to the buyer, John Rampton, about his passion for buying and selling domain names, the companies and products he builds with them, and his day job as a serial entrepreneur.
Tell us about yourself and what you do day-to-day.
First and foremost, I’m an entrepreneur. I love building things that bring happiness to peoples’ lives. My daily life is all over the board: I write for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc and several other high profile places. I like telling people about things I’m working on, as well as failures and successes that I’ve had in the past.
In addition to working on my own startups, I invest in companies. Lately I’ve been investing in 4-5 companies a year. I get pitched around 10 a day, so it’s a bit of hard work. It’s something my wife and I love to do.
Can you give us a brief glimpse into how you started investing in domain names?
I started investing in domains back in 2002 when I purchased my first domain Adogy which I still have today. I purchased it to be used as an agency to exhibit all the work that I offered clients. Basically, it was a website to explain everything I did. Since then, I’ve purchased over $2 million dollars worth of domains. I’ve bought, sold, acquired, lost, bankrupt and everything in-between with different domains that I’ve been a part of.
I look at domains as my online real estate that I have to pay $20/year to maintain. I can buy a good domain and — if it’s really good — potentially sell it to someone that will pay me more. I once made $12,000 in 3 days flipping a domain that I purchased on Flippa. I purchased a good one and someone missed out on the sale. They came to me and offered way more than I purchased for it. I accepted, got the money and was happy.
I’ve been continuously buying and selling domains. I save up some money and purchase the next big one. I’ve gotten pretty good at negotiation and figuring out how much they are worth.
What influenced you to buy Due.com, and why did you choose Flippa?
I’ve been looking around to acquire a good domain. I saw the auction for Due.com a month ago and bid on it — I just wanted to see what it would go for. It’s a 3-letter domain name that people can relate to. I then checked the social assets, all of which are not being used (good sign if you want to claim them).
I made sure to quickly snag @due on Twitter as well as a few others. I then discussed with my wife (who recently purchased Buttercups.com on Flippa) — I run everything past her. If she says it’s ok, I go for it!
I watched the auction, talked with the seller and decided to pull the trigger. It was a good price and since purchasing I’ve had one offer above what I paid for it.
I’m literally on Flippa everyday, looking at all the domains. There are literally hundreds that I’ve bid on and 20+ that I’m watching right now. Flippa is the best place that I’ve found online to buy and sell domains and websites. It’s VERY simple.
What are you planning to do with Due.com?
I plan on building out a product that helps people invoice, pay bills and track time online. “The best place to pay bills, when bills are due.”
Anything else you’d like to share about your acquisition experience?
Start small. I see so many people making bad decisions when buying domain names. Don’t jump into something that you couldn’t lose altogether and be just fine. Get to know how it works and start small. Buy a smaller domain that doesn’t cost a lot — same thing with selling a domain. This will teach you how it works. Over time you’ll get really good at it. There are thousands of people that make a living buying and selling domains, are you one of them? ‘Cause it’s not rocket science, but there is an art to it!
I love connecting with other domainers — you can reach me here.
For a followup on the success of Due.com, you can continue reading here.
Before Super Seller “Frontline” sold Sponsored.com in August 2014, he pitched Matt.net to a myriad of end-users, en route to his first successful domain sale on Flippa. These winning tactics included reaching out to sales leads (interested buyers he met over the years), as well as contacting other extension holders (Matt.com, Matt.org, etc). Finally, he used a combination of best-practices that other successful Flippa domain sellers routinely deploy: a $1 start price, a 30 day duration and a URL redirect to the auction itself and the domain ultimately sold for $11,501!
Can you give us a brief glimpse into how you started domaining?
I actually got involved with domaining around 15 years ago when I purposely let my website’s domain expire. At the time domain renewals cost around $75 a year and since I lost interest and wasn’t actively updating my site I decided not to renew the domain. A couple months later I was pretty surprised when I typed in my website’s url and noticed that someone else had registered the domain. Using the whois records I contacted the new owner inquiring whether the domain was for sale and was quickly quoted what I considered an outragous price. Even though I was a little angry that someone had re-registered what I considered to be “my” domain, I did more research and found out that the new owner held thousands of domains names. This led me to the domaining community where I quickly saw the business opportunity and value of investing in domain names.
What were your original intentions with Matt.net? Investment, product-build, flip, etc…?
Matt.net was acquired specifically as an investment. Because of the popularity of “Matt” as a first name, I knew there would always be a pool of potential buyers who would want to acquire the domain for their online presence. Personally, I knew the value of first name domains because I had tried to acquire my name in multiple TLDs over the years. Most popular names are held by owners of big companies who simply aren’t interested in selling their domain name, much like the popular jeans company that owns mine.
What influenced you to sell the domain, and why did you choose Flippa?
After holding onto it for around six years I decided it was time to let it go. While I received many offers over the years none of them were quite what I was looking for and I believed there was more value in the name. I decided to put the name on Flippa because I believed that a public auction format would encourage competitive bidding and a sense of urgency. Once people saw that the domain was actually going to sell and that the bidding was transparent, I was pretty sure I would get my desired price. I believe a lot of people inquire whether domains are for sale but don’t fully expect it to be available — or they expect to be quoted with an unrealistic asking price. When it’s on public auction, buyers can see that the market is determining the sale price and that other people see value in the domain as well. This sense of urgency lets them know that they better get a bid in now or someone else is going to snap it up.
What were your listing tactics? (i.e. can you discuss your decision for opening bid amount, auction duration, reserve/no reserve, buy it now, anything else you did…)
The auction was listed with what I considered to be a low reserve and a $1 opening bid to attract attention. While I was confident the domain would sell, the low reserve was simply there to protect me from taking a significant loss. Once the auction broke the reserve the bidding quickly took off as bidders saw that the domain was going to sell. The auction was listed for 30 days so I had time to contact potential buyers and allow others to stumble upon the listing. You also need to remember the season that you’re listing your auction during; this was the beginning of summer and I knew that people would be vacationing so I thought the longer duration would help give people an opportunity to bid.
You mentioned that you led a couple of outside sales leads to your Flippa auction. Can you share some of the tactics that you used to reach-out to end users?
Matt.net was sort of a different beast as it had so many potential buyers due to the popularity of the first name. I received so many inquiries on the domain over the years that I had a fairly large lead list of potential buyers to contact and inform of the public auction. I think it’s important to hold onto all inquiries even if you think the offers are too low or you’re not interested in selling the domain at the time. Circumstances can change for both buyers and sellers over the years, so when you do decide to sell your domain, you have a list of potential buyers even if you thought their past offers were too low. Using the WhoIs records I also contacted the owners of the domain in other TLD extensions as I knew many of them would be interested in upgrading. The winning bidder of the Matt.net auction actually owned the domain in other extensions and was one of the people I contacted to make aware of the auction. In addition to contacting potential buyers, I forwarded the domain to the Flippa listing page so people who typed in “Matt.net” would stumble upon the auction.
Were you pleased with the outcome? Did it meet your expectations?
Overall I was very pleased with the outcome. This was actually my first time using Flippa and the entire process was very straightforward and simple. My price expectations were met and the sale went smoothly.