Domain DevelopmentDrop catching

Democratizing Dropcatch – Why we give away valuable domains for FREE

By August 22, 2010 8 Comments

While attending DomainFest, I received several unsolicited comments about Epik’s policy of giving away valuable domain names — words like “brilliant”, “clever”, “disruptive”, “game-changing”.  However, it was clear from the tone, that these comments were not always expressed with joy, notably by companies who are in the business of auctioning off names to the highest bidder.  So, what exactly are we trying to accomplish here?

Traditional Dropcatch
When Ray King and Ron Wiener co-founded Snapnames in 2000, they invented the category of “catch and auction”.  Even today, long after Halvarez, the company still has a great business.  It has relatively high fixed costs, but also insane gross margins.  The historical challenge for this model is to get lots of bidders to participate in the auctions. This is where the business model gets more complicated. The more bidders, the higher the price.  The more successful Snapnames, Pool and others become at promoting their services, the higher the price, and the further out of reach domains become for bootstrapping domain investors who are confined to 2 and 3 figure bids due to economic realities. In a weakening economy, and with a shrinking pool of major wholesale domain buyers, there is an obvious tension that I don’t see getting resolved anytime soon.

Democratizing Dropcatch
Epik’s dropcatch model is quite different.  We catch to develop. And we develop a lot — about 300 custom sites per week.   But did you know that every week, we give away domains for FREE to people who are developing on Epik? The logic of this approach is simple.  Our cost basis is reg-fee.  We want to build a community of developers who share our passion for building useful websites that make money for their owners.  The community of Epik developers keeps growing every day, in part because of our philosophy of leaving money on the table for the next guy.  By giving away a high quality domain for free, there is a high probability that the developer’s downside is fully protected by the resale value of the developed domain.  That’s it. Simple.

Some recent catches
Every day, Epik catches between 10 and 50 names. The average catch rate is on the order of 80%, through a network of direct registry connections.  We catch names that we want to develop, or that we think someone that we know will want to develop.  We don’t park. Period.   Here are some recent catches:

Domain Appraised
Value
Avg
Cpc
Avg Search
Volume
Development
Direction
datacentersolutions.net 3,000 8.76 4,428 Lead-gen site
lockablebox.com 940 2.05 3,567 Product Portal
pestrepellants.com 670 1.93 393 Product Portal
missiondesks.com 1,000 2.3 725 Product Portal
beadedsweaters.com 1,300 1.24 1,230 Product Portal
golfmats.net 1,800 3.03 9,963 Product Portal
hypnotherapyweightloss.net 1,900 3.57 2,337 Product Portal
stretchcanvas.com 2,000 1.22 1,599 Product Portal
portableburner.com 1,000 1.25 1,230 Product Portal
hoodriveroregon.net 1,100 1.03 14,883 Directory
toddlerpants.com 1,100 0.98 1,968 Product Portal
terabyteharddrive.com 1,500 1.81 8,118 Product Portal
kiteaccessories.com 650 1.32 885 Product Portal
refurbishedvacuum.com 710 1.64 319 Product Portal
galvanizedfencing.com 830 1.22 319 Product Portal
retractablebabygates.com 590 1.77 1,082 Product Portal
inexpensiveframes.com 640 1.82 258 Product Portal
troystorage.com 760 3.76 2,952 Directory
newbornbabyclothes.net 1,300 1.46 8,118 Product Portal
designerbabyclothes.net 1,500 0.96 60,885 Product Portal
sqlbackup.net 7,800 8.13 6,642 Lead-gen site
offshoulder.com 2,500 0.46 12,177 Product Portal
nurseswatch.com 1,300 0.91 885 Product Portal
hdmidvdplayer.net 840 0.71 22,263 Product Portal
apartmentsfortworth.net 880 5.96 1,230 Directory
bachelorettepartylimo.com 560 3.32 393 Directory
barsclubs.net 600 0.61 6,642 Directory
businessinternetproviders.net 3,900 10.57 12,177 Directory
ceilingfanbulbs.net 120 1.49 725 Product Portal
cruisefromnyc.com 710 3.36 590 Directory
mobilityscooterforsale.com 530 3.44 1,082 Product Portal
officeshredders.net 1,300 5.04 2,952 Product Portal
oneshouldertop.com 750 0.9 1,230 Product Portal
onlinedegreeinaccounting.net 1,200 21.36 393 Lead-gen site
papercupdispenser.com 620 1.79 2,337 Product Portal
stretchskirts.com 750 1.23 258 Product Portal
sendflowersinternationally.com 1,300 6.92 725 Lead-gen site
turquoisebead.com 2,000 1.14 1,599 Product Portal
troponin.net 1,300 1.39 12,177 Wiki
willsestates.com 1,700 2.88 258 Lead-gen site
warehouseshelf.com 1,600 2.93 1,230 Product Portal
yentl.net 1,400 0.37 6,642 Wiki
videomonitoringsystems.net 670 7.29 319 Product Portal
restaurantnewyork.net 2,800 0.93 49,815 Directory
onlineparalegalprograms.net 2,300 21 2,337 Lead-gen site

This is typical of what we catch on the drop.  We have now been catching regularly for nearly a year with increasing efficiency.  If you are looking to build a portfolio of developed, income-producing websites, we have an ample quantity of raw land with which to do it.   You can also screen for dropping names using our free service at domains.epik.com.  The bottom line is the same — if you develop on Epik, the domain is FREE.

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