Interview with Kevin Ohashi

Interview with Kevin Ohashi  – I have asked various parties within the domain industry to take part in some interviews to give us a little background about themselves, where they see the industry heading and how they feel the current market for domain names are our twenty fourth interview is by Kevin Ohashi.

Don’t Forget to check out all the other Interviews completed on RobbiesBlog.com

Mike Mann, Darren Cleveland, Monte Cahn, Braden Pollock, Craig Rowe, Xavier Buck, Jodi Chamberlain, Fred Mercaldo, Tommy Butler, Michael Castello, Rob Grant, Tom Chapman, Ira Zoot, Victor Pitts, Shane Cultra, Nico Zeifang , Chris from AntiCareer.com, Eric Borgos, Jacob Fedosky, Brett Lewis, David Carter, Mike “Zappy” Zapolin, Ted Olson and more interviews to come soon.

Kevin Ohashi is the Founder of Review Signal – Which collects and analyze opinions shared on social media and turns that data into a review website. It currently covers the web hosting industry as well as running Review Signal Kevin Ohashi is also a Consultant where he helps individuals and companies with software development, prototyping, and online marketing and has been a domainer / domain investor for many years.

Some of Kevin’s other projects are

Gift Lizard – Gift Inspiration Made Easy

Gentlemen’s Bet – Facebook Game where you can make and track bets with your friends

DomainToad – Domain Name Industry News

Proxy Host – Proxy Hosting information and privacy news

Video Game Music – Video Game Music shop.

Buzz Scanner – Little project to monitor brand sentiment in real time.

1) What are your current thoughts on the Domain Aftermarket? i.e. Sales and Enquiries etc – General Mood of Domainers / End users?
 
I am somewhat disconnected from the aftermarket. I really only deal with inbound leads these days. The market is clearly a lot weaker than the 2007 peak. The domainer to domainer market seems to have evaporated with PPC earnings.  End user sales I don’t feel like changed very much. I can’t see any noticeable difference in that market.
 
2) Where do you see GTLDS in 3 years time?
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Hopefully, I won’t. I wrote an article in 2008 Why New TLDs Don’t Change a Thing (http://www.circleid.com/posts/86298_new_tlds_no_change/). I re-read it today and stand by every point. I think it’s a massive land rush for ICANN and the large companies in the space (donuts.co et al). The registries are also probably pretty thrilled as they get paid to backend these new TLDs.
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It doesn’t benefit consumers or brands (most of them).
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I hope that the entire thing falls apart, but realistically, I think it will eventually get through. ICANN will make a lot of money. The new TLD operators will  exploit brand owners into paying to defend their marks. And speculators will have a field day. And the house of cards will fall over, mostly on the speculators and registries who market poorly. And consumers will be left without a clue as to what happened.
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3) What are you or your companies investing in? i.e. Dot Com only Domains – Typo – etc?
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Nothing these days. I am holding and selling. I have gone back to my development roots and work full time on my startup.
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4) Do you believe in Parking or Developing? What are your tips for either i.e. Top Parking Platform (What Do You Use) – Developing your thoughts on what to develop and how best achieve it?
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I think that’s a strange question. Both certainly exist. Both are viable ways to make money depending on the domain name. Most domains aren’t going to earn much on parking because most domains suck.
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I think development opens the door to create something and add value to users. The potential earnings behind it are only capped by your ability to execute. Of course, that takes a lot of time and possibly funds. And there is a high risk of failure.
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Parking a good domain is like sticking it in the bank, you’ll get a low rate of return but it’s something. The value isn’t appreciating much. Development is like taking a mortgage out, and gambling with the money.  You may make a huge return or you may lose a bunch of money.
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I think the worst place to be is the awkward domainer middle-ground like minisites. Minisites are way too popular for no good reason. I think it’s because it’s a safe and cheap option. You get a little packaged site for a set price. You feel like you’ve accomplished something but in reality, you just lowered your CTR and earnings substantially. The amount of effort it’s going to take to get back to parking level earnings is high. It’s a non-scalable business model. Actual development takes a lot of time and effort. So if you’re going to pursue it, you need to pick your best idea/domain.  You see this constant barrage of new companies saying they’ve solved the creating a real website problem, but it’s just not true. The closest anyone has come is Demand Media, but they built an amazing infrastructure that combines computing and people to create content. They are throwing enough people and money at the problem and they have an economy of scale that most domainers simply won’t reach. That’s also the reason they aren’t sharing their technology like a parking company does. If the business model works, the smart thing to do is scale it out yourselves and reap all the rewards. If it doesn’t work, then you sell/give away the technology and put the labor cost burden on domainers.
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If you are going to go the development route, try to solve a problem there is a demand for and you can legitimately solve. A domain only will get you so far, you need to pickup or hire other skills to move a development project along. It’s also incredibly hard to develop something purely for financial reasons. Do something you’re passionate about. When things are going poorly, that’s what will get you through.
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 5) What is your favourite domain personally or company owned?
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Probably gosu.com. I’ve developed it probably 5 different times. It’s current incarnation is a nerd enthusiast site that is being managed by my long time friend Jeff. It has exclusive comics, podcasts and a team of writers. It’s really geeky and I love it.
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6) If you were starting out in the domain space today what are your 3 top tips?
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  • Learn programming
  • Learn sales
  • Learn marketing
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I don’t see much opportunity on the domain space that isn’t highly speculative or pure hard work. I think the returns on learning some of those other skills will either open up some potential deals to make money or give you the option to work doing something else and earn more money.  The ability to create, market and sell things are skills that will translate to almost anything.
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 7) What’s the next big thing that your companies are working on?
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I am working on my startup Review Signal, which data mines social media and turns the comments people share into reviews of companies. That is my first priority. I also have a few side projects, just last night I wrote up a beta version of a new gift site which is yet to be named. It will be done and launched before Black Friday.
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8)Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
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Broke or successful with an unknown probability between those two options.
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I don’t think in that scale honestly. The furthest out plan I have right now are to the end of the year. I mostly think about day to day, what do I want to accomplish? What can I do today to get closer to that goal.
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If I had to hope for something: married, financially stable and having the opportunities to work on really interesting problems wherever my interests had taken me.
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 9) What has been your biggest challenge in the domain business?
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Knowing when to quit.  I really stopped betting on domains and it was a hard decision. I buy a few here and there, but I used to chase hundreds of names each day. I would spend every hour coming up with ideas and writing software to help find and acquire better names. The competition got a lot richer than I did and I wasn’t willing to take some of the risks others were. I’ve moved back to my developer roots and I am pretty happy with that decision. I still have an interest in domain names, but it’s more of a profitable hobby than a business now.

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10) What do you feel has been your largest accomplishment in the Business / Personally?
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Honestly, I am not sure. I don’t think I have left much of a mark on the industry. I did a lot of research which very few people seemed interested in. I shared a lot of unpopular opinions which turned out being right. I’ve reported some big security holes and got them cleaned up. I’ve written a lot of tools which get a fair amount of use to this day related to the domain industry. But I don’t think any of it with leave much of a mark.
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Personally, I am satisfied that I got a hands-on education in online business and made some good friends while doing it.
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Thanks to Kevin Ohashi for taking the time to complete this interview, You should checkout what Kevin is doing over at ReviewSignal.com aswell as reading Kevin’s Blog on KevinOhashi.com Thanks for taking the time to read RobbiesBlog.com

About the Author

Robbie
Robbie Ferguson is an Internet Entrepreneur, Domain Investor, Domain Broker, Blogger and founder of various websites and eCommerce businesses such as ScreenProtectors.co.uk

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