Today we sit down with Angelo Todesco, the new owner of online music service ZippyTune.com, which he purchased at auction on Flippa for $20,100 in February. Angelo tells us how Zippy Tune was started, what he plans to do with the site, and why he thought this web business had untapped potential!
Tell us about your background as web entrepreneur
I started working on websites at the age of 17. In college, I had the opportunity to work for several website development agencies which helped me continue to fine-tune my knowledge of this industry. After finishing college, I decided to start my own company, Gelsco Ltd, so that I could turn my passion of web development into a career. Since then I have written code for and managed a wide range of sites.
What brought you to Flippa?
I actually found Flippa by chance about 6 months ago after clicking an online ad that directed me to the site. After discovering that people on Flippa were buying and selling websites, domain names, and mobile apps I knew I wanted to participate. I started out by purchasing an established iOS app before moving to established website acquisitions. All in all, the Flippa platform is without a doubt the best in the business.
Tell us about ZippyTune.com what is the site about? How did it get started?
ZippyTune.com is an online music service in which people can listen to and share music. An Australian web developer created the site so he could share personal music with his friends. It spread really quickly from there, and as the service became more and more popular outside of his group of friends, it was eventually released worldwide.
What motivated you to place a bid?
I think the fact that there was plenty of room for improvement really motivated me to buy the site. By making a number of improvements I think I can easily increase the value. Other than that, I also really like the business model. The site is being monetized in several different ways including advertising and the sale of premium account subscriptions and these multiple untapped revenue streams will help fund our growth.
What are your plans for Zippy Tune moving forward?
We’ve already got a huge community of artists and music lovers who use the site, and I’m excited to continue to grow that community. To achieve that growth I’ll be putting into play a number of plans. First, I’ve been working on a brand new layout that I hope will improve the user experience. Next, I plan on turning Zippy Tune into a fully responsive website. Next, I’m going to introduce a “Rewards Store” where users will be able to convert download points into gifts. I’ll also be releasing a Zippy Tune app for iOS and Android devices. Finally, I’ll be ramping up the marketing efforts and advertising the site heavily via AdWords and Facebook. The short-term goal is to increase the number of active users from 175,000 to 200,000 in two months time. The long-term goal is to become the premiere online music community.
Any advice for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
My advice would be to have patience. It can take time to find a quality site that fits with what you’re seeking, but it is important to check regularly and wait for the right opportunity. The best place to look on Flippa is Editors’ Choice. Most of the high-quality sites end up being listed there. If you have access, you should also check out Deal Flow regularly.
Fresh off his $30,100 winning bid on KeywordXP.com, I got the opportunity to sit down with Karthik Magapu for an interview. Karthik gives us the scoop on KeywordXP and how he has built a web acquisition company with a portfolio of over 30 websites.
Tell us about your background as web entrepreneur.
In 2011 I cofounded Hummingbird Web Solutions. Our strategy has been to take over and nurture existing web based businesses. Since founding we have successfully acquired over 30 web businesses on Flippa, and our company now consists of over 50 enthusiastic web developers, designers and marketers who help to run the businesses that we acquire. Our portfolio consists of web businesses related to WordPress, Joomla, E-Commerce, Social Media, Online Marketplaces, and more. However, we are typically on the hunt for Software Product or SAAS based web businesses, where the business has a proven track record of sales and a history of active customers.
When did you start using Flippa and what keeps you coming back?
I have been a Flippa user since it was founded in 2009 and I have enjoyed watching the platform grow into the thriving marketplace it is today. Given the sheer number of high-quality listings there really isn’t any other platform out there that can compete. While it is important to always do your due diligence, I have found the majority of sellers are honest and genuine, and me experience overall has been very positive.
For those who don’t already know, tell us about KeywordXP.com what is the site about?
KeywordXP is a unique Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool launched in 2012. It operates as a desktop app for Mac and Windows that performs complex keyword research tasks quickly and efficiently. One of the key features of this tool is the ability to extract exact match keyword data directly from Google’s keyword planner. Users can then analyze valuable statistics, trends, and graphs surrounding the data and make better decisions about which keywords to use. We currently have over 7,000 active users, and most of these users have been able to dramatically boost their SEO results with KeywordXP.
From a business perspective, why did you ultimately decide to place a bid?
KeywordXP was a great acquisition for us because, while the business is not passive, it can be effectively run with a team. We like to find businesses where we can put a team of software professionals together to manage the product lifecycle, manage customer support, and market the product so it really was a great match. Aside from that, I very much liked the fact that the business was being sold by a reputed seller, Brad Gosse, and that the site had a proven track record in terms of sales and customers. I am convinced that SEO services and tools make up an evergreen market. The reason being that customers in the SEO industry are generally willing to pay for products and services that work, as the ROI achieved through the use of these products and services can be huge.
What are your plans for KeywordXP.com moving forward?
We have exciting plans for KeywordXP, and we’ll be carrying forward the great work that Brad and Paul (the previous owners) have already done. Some key things we’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks include:
- Actively promote the product to new users.
- Start offering SEO related services around the product.
- Relaunch the affiliate program, recruit new affiliates, and contact past affiliates.
- Improve the product to close the feature gap between other best in class tools in this niche.
- Bring customer support to a gold standard and continue to improve the customer experience.
I should also mention that we are continuing to work with one of the original owners, Paul Clifford, to chart out an exciting product roadmap. With the enhancements we are planning KeywordXP is set to be the leading SEO keyword research tool on the market.
Any advice for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
Having bought a lot of web businesses on Flippa I certainly have a few suggestions. First, do just as much due diligence on individual sellers as you do on the business itself. You can do this by looking up their Linkedin profiles, Goolging their names, and even setting up meetings on Skype. You need to determine if the person is (1) trustworthy, and (2) someone you would be comfortable doing business with. I usually wont even look at a business unless the seller is willing to share their full name and identity. My next recommendation is search for businesses that will allow you to add value. Unless you can add value in a business, you will probably see a negative return on your investment. Finally, to find the highest quality listings, you need to be actively searching. That means, visiting Flippa often and saving searches. I typically visit the site multiple times a day and I’ve got saved searches set up so that new listings launched with specific keywords are sent to my inbox. The more active you are, the more opportunities you’ll be able to evaluate before you find the perfect match.
How To Buy A Domain Name That Is Owned By Someone Else
Buying domains owned by someone else can be a tricky process! Let’s say you’ve just come up with a fantastic new business idea. It has a cool, unique name and buying its matching domain name is all that stands in your way. But when you go to your favorite domain registrar to try to buy the domain, you get a message stating that the domain is not available.
You dig a bit further and realize that someone, somewhere, already beat you to the punch and owns this domain name. What do you do? What can you do? Will you ever be able to get this domain name?
First of all, take a deep breath. All hope is not lost yet. That’s because even though someone already owns the domain name you desire doesn’t mean you can’t buy it from them – if you go about it the right way.
First thing’s first: before you even consider approaching the current domain owner to ask them about selling their domain name to you, you need to ask yourself some very important questions such as:
- How important is this specific domain name to your new venture?
- If it’s important, how much money are you willing to spend on acquiring this domain name?
- How quickly do you need to buy this specific domain name?
- If you can’t get this specific domain name, will a different domain name suffice? (What’s your Plan B domain and is it available?)
How important is this specific domain name to your new venture?
If you’re launching a new product or service called Fluffy, and the domain name you want to buy is the exact match .COM domain name (i.e., Fluffy.com), then this domain name is very important because it’s the primary and most intuitive domain name for your venture. If on the other hand the domain name is intended to be only used for a one-time marketing campaign, or a blog, or a B2B venture, or a microsite, then the domain’s importance to your business may be somewhat lower.
If it’s important, how much money are you willing to spend on acquiring this domain name?
Every entrepreneur and business is different and will have a different level of comfort about how much they are willing to spend on a domain name. They will also have wildly varying budgets. For some companies, spending more than $1,000 on a domain name would blow their entire marketing budget for the year. For other companies, a $10,000 domain name would be considered a bargain because they are already spending way more than that on other marketing tactics. And then there are companies that are happy to pony up six or seven figures to buy a category-defining domain name (typically a one-word .COM) that will allow them to dominate an entire market segment.
What’s important here is to be mindful of your budget, whatever that budget may be, and be realistic about what sort of domain name your budget is going to allow you to buy. For instance, and this is just a rough ballpark, a one-word .COM domain is probably going to set you back between $50,000 to $200,000 — perhaps more. A two-word .COM will usually be much less, with many available in the $1,500 to $10,000 range (although there are, of course, exceptions). And a completely invented or “brandable” domain name, such as Zivean.com or Dozeri.com, can often be bought for $5,000 or less — sometimes way less!
How quickly do you need to buy this specific domain name?
It’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to buy domains. The more time you have to source and buy your domain name, the better a negotiating position you will be in. What you especially want to avoid doing is painting yourself into a corner where you are forced to buy a specific domain name – perhaps because you’ve already made public announcements about what the name of your new product or service is – because in situations like that you risk driving the price up…way up.
If you can’t get this specific domain name, will a different domain name suffice?
It’s always good to have several alternative options at your disposal because this will allow you to save money and time, especially if your first choice domain name can’t be bought at any cost.
Now it’s time for some detective work!
Once you’ve considered the important questions above, the next step is to figure out as much as you can about the person or company that owns the domain name you want to buy. Ideally, you want to gather this intelligence without making the owner realize you are doing so. You don’t want to prematurely tip them off that you are interested in buying their domain name.
Start with a WHOIS lookup. Then Google the owner’s name, company name, and email address. Look for their profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks. Who is this person or what kind of a company is this? Ask yourself, why do they own this domain name? Is the owner a serial entrepreneur that just happens to own a handful of domains for future projects? Is the owner a large corporation that owns the domain because this domain name was used by a company it acquired? Is the owner a domain speculator (a.k.a. domainer) who buys and sells domain names for a living?
I should note here that domain speculators take a lot of abuse from people who accuse them of “hoarding” domain names, but given a choice, I would much rather be attempting to buy a domain name from a domain speculator than a member of the general public.
Why? Because a domain speculator is in the business of selling domain names and most of them (but not all, sadly) have a realistic sense of what a fair price for a domain name is. When a domain is owned by a member of the general public, often times they have unrealistic price expectations because they don’t understand the market. Some members of the general public think that every domain they own, no matter how crappy, is going to turn them into a millionaire. Good luck buying domain names from one of these delusional folks!
You should also visit the domain name itself and see how it is being used, if it’s being utilized at all. Does it resolve to a Web page or is there a server error message? Is it parked with PPC ads at the domain registrar? Is it parked with a “For Sale” message or link to a domain marketplace? Is it an active Website, blog, or forum of some kind? If it’s a Website, when was the last time the Website was updated? Ask yourself, how attached is the domain owner likely going to be to this particular domain? Is this domain a key corporate asset for them, in which case they will likely be very reluctant to sell it to you regardless of your budget, or is it a minor or forgotten asset they’d be happy to unload? By now you should have a clear, or at least clearer, sense of what you would be willing to pay for the domain and who the current owner is.
Now it’s time to approach the owner of the domain … but not before you consider a few more important things:
Do you speak the same language as the domain owner? If not, you may have better success working with an intermediary that speaks the domain owner’s native language.
Should you approach the domain owner yourself, essentially revealing yourself as the buyer, or should you use an alias? Maybe you ask an intermediary to help you out or even a professional domain buyer broker, which is how yours truly makes a living.
Consider the pros and cons of the domain owner knowing your identity as the buyer. If you’re from a large company, this might put you at a disadvantage because the owner of the domain may assume that your company has a much larger budget than you really do and they may jack up the price. If you’re a small startup or an up-and-coming entrepreneur, going in as yourself might be the smartest move. I encourage you to be as honest as possible and avoid playing games because you may only get one shot at this and you don’t want it to backfire on you!
If, during your earlier research into the domain name, you discover that the domain is listed for sale on Flippa or one of the other domain name marketplaces, you might want to bid on or buy the domain through that marketplace versus going direct to the domain owner, especially if you are not confident in your negotiation skills or not adept at the technical side of domain transfers.
It’s also important that only one person representing the buyer — even if that person is you — engage with the domain owner. The more people contacting the domain owner about their domain name, the greater the risk the domain owner may think they’ve got a very desirable domain name on their hands.
When it’s time for you or your proxy to reach out to the domain owner, be polite and professional and get to the point. Call or email them and ask if they’d consider selling the domain name and what price or price range they have in mind. If they’re a savvy negotiator, they will probably resist stating a price and will instead invite you to make an offer. Sooner or later someone is going to have to throw out a number.
If you’re comfortable making an offer, do so, but don’t insult the owner with a ridiculously low offer. Also, don’t comment or make assumptions about their current or future use of the domain name or how much you think they paid to buy it. You don’t know the full story behind the domain, so saying things like “I see you’re not using the domain name…” or “Since you only paid $10 to register this domain name…” could seriously tick off the domain owner and kill your chances of doing a deal.
Negotiate in good faith with them. Don’t offer them an amount that you aren’t willing to move forward with in a transaction. If they are unwilling to sell at all, or at a price you are comfortable with, don’t insult them. Instead, gently try to understand what is behind their price expectations or reluctance to sell. Be persistent but don’t harass them and be ready and willing to walk away from the bargaining table if you need to. Never, ever, lose your cool, no matter how frustrating the situation might become. Remember that they are not obligated to sell their domain name to you. In fact, they are not obligated to even reply to any of your inquiries, although I believe that’s the courteous thing to do.
During negotiations, keep things light and friendly and always try to move towards a deal that both parties will be comfortable with. For instance, is it worth the risk of scuttling the deal to save you a few bucks? If and when you agree on a price, I strongly recommend you use a domain escrow service to safeguard your money and the domain during the transaction. Who is responsible for paying the escrow fees is up to you and the seller, but typically the buyer pays at least 50% of the escrow fees.
Buying domains from someone else can be a challenging, nerve-wracking, and even infuriating experience, however the more homework you do upfront the easier it will be and the more likely you will succeed. Give yourself as much time as possible (ideally months or weeks versus days or hours) and always make sure you have one or several backup plans in the form of alternate domain names.
If you are able to negotiate the buying of a domain name from someone else, be sure to pat yourself on the back. You’ve proved that just because someone else already registered a domain name doesn’t mean you can’t get it eventually. Congratulations to you and the seller!
Following up on one of Flippa’s most popular sales ever, we have an exclusive buyer interview with Peter Boychuk, the new owner of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com – purchased via Buy it Now on Flippa for $85,000. Peter gives us an inside look at the wildly successful viral site and what he plans to do to keep the glitter flowing in 2015!
Tell us a little bit about your background
When I was 15 I worked at a grocery store as well as part time at a tennis club. Those two experiences were enough for me to realize that I hated working for other people, and I have been self employed ever since. When I was 16 I started selling on eBay. The more I sold, the more I loved working for myself. Things picked up quickly from eBay, and it wasn’t long before I had launched a number of successful eCommerce sites selling items ranging from designer wallets to auto parts. When I graduated high school, I studied at the University of Georgia for about 3 years, but ultimately dropped out because my online businesses were taking off.
How long have you been using Flippa, and why do you keep coming back?
I have been using Flippa since about a year ago. During that timespan, I have found that most of the high-end sites in the general marketplace seem to be right in my sweet spot in terms of price. I’m also a member of Flippa’s high-end brokerage service Deal Flow, and I purchased WHMCSDesigns.com using that service last September. My background is primarily eCommerce, and things such as sourcing, fulfillment, process management, and customer service are my strongest skills. As such, I monitor Flippa’s listings daily looking for listings where I can put those skills to work.
For those who don’t already know, tell us about ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com
In short, ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com is glitter as a service. The idea is that customers can send glitter-filled letters to people they dislike (or to friends as a prank) for only $9.99. The result is that the recipient unknowingly opens the letter, and glitter gets everywhere. A crazy Aussie developed the idea while on holiday, and did an absolutely phenomenal job marketing it. Within 24 hours the site had generated over $20,000 in orders and millions of unique visitors, and it was also mentioned by nearly every major online media outlet. In his own words, “he never expected such a massive response” and he “quickly became overwhelmed” putting the site up for sale.
How did you discover the site? And, why did you ultimately decide to place a bid?
I first discovered Ship Your Enemies Glitter while performing one of my regular searches on Flippa. What caught my eye was the fact that bidding was already up to $60k with hundreds of comments and bids, and this is something I had never seen before. That said, I had no initial plans to buy the site, but I continued following the listing. As the auction moved closer to the end and the price floated around $70k I started to take more notice. I have a fully staffed warehouse for my other businesses, so I knew it would be relatively easy to add glitter fulfillment to our repertoire. I created projections, and based on the conclusions I drew, it was really a no brainer – I had to place a bid.
What are your future plans for the site?
I think a lot of people thought this was just a fly-by-night business, but so far, that hasn’t been the case at all. Since taking over, sales and traffic have been steady. Moving forward, we plan to keep the overall concept, simplicity, and tone of the site. However, we’ll also be adding a ton of value and continually developing our products and refining and improving our processes. We have an extensive list of new ideas that we plan to roll out, and since launch we have already added the option to pay with a credit card, double the amount of glitter, and include a custom note. In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see mail tracking and Bitcoin payment options, as well as the release of a blog and an app. In short, we’ll continue to be not only the most popular glitter delivery service on the internet, but also the best.
If you’re looking into buying websites that are already hugely successful, then this might be for you. The hilarious and massively popular viral sensation ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com is for sale on Flippa! Make sure to check out the live website auction for the site.
What is ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com?
Created by 22 year-old Australian entrepreneur Mathew Carpenter, ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com offers a one-of-a-kind service. Pay a mere $9, and you can send a glitter filled letter to the recipient of your choosing. Carpenter launched the site on January 12th, 2015, and as of January 16th, 2015 the site had generated over 2,500,000 visitors resulting in over $20,000 in sales, and over 415,000 mentions on Facebook and Twitter.
Global media remain fixated on the site. Nearly every major news publication has commented on it including Entrepreneur Magazine, Time Magazine, Yahoo, USA Today, Slate, DailyMail, FastCompany, Mashable, and more! Of course, the sale of the site is now further fueling the headlines with the likes of TechCrunch, The Washington Post, and The Guardian all sharing their thoughts on the auction.
So, how did ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com end up on Flippa?
In his own words, Carpenter was, “not expecting this kind of response.” In fact, he launched the site while on holiday as a small side project. After the site crossed $20,000 in sales and orders were still piling on at an astonishing rate, he became overwhelmed and turned off the site’s ability to process orders. The glitter life was not for him. As Flippa is the #1 marketplace for buying and selling websites, Carpenter came to the right place to find someone to buy his website. Of course, we’re thrilled to have him, and given the magnitude of the auction we’re working closely to verify all bidders and ensure a smooth transaction.
Is this the most active website auction ever on Flippa?
Indeed, the auction for ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com may well be the most active website auction ever on Flippa. In the first day of bidding it amassed over 300 bids and has already hit reserve sitting at $61,100! In the process the auction has been viewed tens of thousands of times, and with just four days left and several bids already pending, it should be exciting to see this auction pan out!
So, what do you think of the site? Let us know in the comments below!
For the first buyer interview of 2015 we look back at the auction of LandHub.com, which successfully closed in December. New owner K. Michael May discusses a variety of topics including his prior website acquisition, his marketing plans for LandHub moving forward, and his recommendations for other entrepreneurs looking to buy websites on Flippa!
Tell us about your background as web entrepreneur
I have a Marketing degree and started my career with AT&T, which is where my love of technology grew. I jumped to commercial real estate during the dotcom crash, but I continued to dabble in technology. I then started my first site in 2009 during the economic downturn. Next, I made my first website purchase in December 2013, when I bought GymPosters.com for $15,500 on Flippa. It’s been a great site that practically runs itself, though I am considering selling it to raise capital for LandHub. I’ve also been in marketing, sales and technology throughout my entire career.
What brought you to Flippa?
I was looking for a new business after becoming bored with Commercial Real Estate. Flippa is the only place I’ve found that actually provides real data so you can quickly tell the winners from the losers. I was originally looking for a part-time site to compliment my “day job,” which is why I bought GymPosters. I recently started looking for something that had huge potential and could become my sole source of income. I searched Fllipa for months, bid on a bunch of sites, and then finally found LandHub.
Tell us about LandHub, what is the site about?
LandHub.com is a search platform for all things land. It gives land sellers and brokers the ability to use tools to market their land through our website. It started as RuralPropertyFinder back in 2005 and was switched over to LandHub last year. The previous owner invested a lot of time and money into developing the backend for email and social media integration. Most of our clients are real estate brokers and landowners, and we connect them through a portal that will soon allow integration with white hat social media solutions.
How did you come across LandHub on Flippa, and why did you ultimately decide to place a bid?
I really wanted a site that tied in with Commercial Real Estate, so I got in the habit of checking the Flippa app on my phone every day to see new listings. It took me a while to find LandHub, but I liked the listing as soon as I saw it. The seller was an open book and provided tons of data. After asking a bunch of initial questions, I connected with the seller on LinkedIn. Surprisingly, we ended up sharing a few connections, which allowed me to trust him more. The owner was an expert in the real estate field and had already done all the leg work and backend development on the site. He was working on a new project and simply didn’t have time for the LandHub. The site itself is a great fit for my background, and the prospect of helping people buy and sell land truly excites me, so I placed a bid.
What are your plans for LandHub moving forward?
My first goal is to implement a comprehensive marketing strategy. I have already hired a telemarketing team and email/social media expert. Next, I’ll be working on SEO and a few design changes. After we improve the rankings, we’ll ramp up social media and start adding videos – you can actually make some pretty cool land videos using drones, the FAA just approved the first realtor last week. I will also be getting the Craigslist piece working so all listings will automatically post there, and we’ll soon be launching our white label email and social media marketing platform, allowing users to manage everything directly from our site. Ultimately, my plan is to turn this into a fully functional company that will be my primary source of income.
Any advice for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
Do your homework and research the site and future opportunity. Get to know the seller. Skype for a video review of the financials, talk on the phone and research online. My seller and I shared a few LinkedIn connections, which gave him more credibility. Turns out he’s a great guy, a total guru in this space, and has been a huge help so far. Also, patience, patience, patience. I literally looked every day for months before I found the perfect fit. On that note, I highly recommend the Flippa iPhone app, as it allows you to check listings whenever you want. That was key for me since I’m always traveling. Don’t wait until the last minute, set the top price you’re willing to pay and place your bid. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the auction but you should take all emotion out of it.