Interview with Raymond King of Porkbun & Top Level Design

Happy Wednesday, I hope you all have been having a fantastic week? Today we talked with Raymond King, founder and CEO of the domain registrar Porkbun and its parent registry Top Level Design, we have completed many interviews with domain name investors over the years which you can view on Robbies Blog by searching our historic posts.

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Ray. I think many people, like me, are immediately intrigued by the name Porkbun. Can you tell me a little about how the name and the brand originated?

 

Of course. We love it too. Initially, we built Porkbun as a way for our registry, Top Level Design, to offer new users a more seamless purchase path.  . At that point, my team and I had been successfully operating Top Level Design for 2 years, and we decided to create this new Registrar.. 

 

Deciding on the name was the fun part! Like many entrepreneurs, I already had a good stash of names at the ready. I had previously snagged Porkbun.com simply because I love pork buns and I got a kick out of it. When my team and I ran through the list of potential names, we all gravitated toward Porkbun.com — it’s silly (as are we), catchy, and we could all envision crafting a memorable brand around it.

 

It’s funny looking back now at our other possibilities, and we’re all grateful we landed where we did. 

 

Seems like your customers are too! What were some of the other choices you considered?

 

Initially, we were debating between Porkbun and Flyware. Obviously they each have a very different feel. We even got as far as designing a Flyware logo to compare the two (file attached). As you can see, Porkbun lended itself much better to our voice and the type of company we wanted to create — something fun and playful. We don’t think professionalism and personality are mutually exclusive, so we strived to create a brand that achieved both. Though Flyware may sound more like a traditional technology company, for our team, there was no contest. Porkbun all the way! 

 

Well I definitely agree! You have clearly created something special here. Though I can imagine you’ve received some negative feedback as well. When people take issue with the name/brand, what is your response?

 

We understand it may not be for everybody, but nothing ever is. We love the name. We love the food. We love the mascot. We like that it’s cute and memorable, and ideally puts a smile on someone’s face. When you go to Porkbun.com, you immediately see a playful illustration of our mascot, and then our tagline: an oddly satisfying experience — which is our goal to provide in every interaction.

 

Clearly the creation of Porkbun has been a journey for you and your team. What were some of the most important features you knew you needed to include when you started?

We came at it from the angle: what kind of registrar would we like to use? And then we built it. 

 

Our main driving points were simple:

 

  1. Make it easy to use.

We keep things simple, intuitive, and well-designed to make the user experience as pleasant as possible; no one should feel like they’ve wasted their time. For instance, it’s just as easy to transfer out of Porkbun as it is to join. Obviously, we want our customers to be happy here, but if they need something elsewhere, they are free to go find it. We really do keep our focus on the customer’s needs, so much so that the experience leaving should be just as great as when they first joined. 

 

  1. Keep pricing transparent.

    Most registrars keep low first-year rates and then make their money on higher renewals. But to me, and to many customers, this feels like a bait-and-switch. So from day one, we challenged this strategy and asked ourselves, why couldn’t the renewal rate be just as competitive. We decided we would mark-up domains, including renewals, by $1. In some cases, even less. We never want anyone to feel duped. Our strategy has been consistent since day one, so you can trust you’re getting a great deal.

 

  1. Make the service and support just as compelling as our prices. 

The prices and piglets may get people in the door, but the service is what keeps them here, and we’re proud of that. If customers call in to troubleshoot an issue, their first point of contact is an expert with answers. No lengthy waits or circuitous rerouting, just real people who genuinely want to help — and our customers notice the difference. Feel free to check out our reviews and see for yourself!

  1. Then lastly, of course, make it fun!

If something isn’t a joy to use, why would you use it? It’s not worth coming to work if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. We carry the same mentality among our colleagues that we extend to our users. We should all have a good time here. We like to think of ourselves as laughing along with our customers — and if we can achieve that, we’ll deem ourselves pretty successful.

 

From my experience, you have clearly delivered. I’m sure those promises were easier to keep as a small brand. Now you’re nearing 500K DUM, which is impressive for a company of your size! As you’ve grown, have you been able to commit to those same foundational ideas? What has changed overtime?

 

Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but I am genuinely very proud of our team for how well we adhere to our values. At the end of the day, no matter how much we grow, the simplicity, the transparency in pricing, the commitment to support and accessibility, the playful wit — that’s what makes Porkbun, Porkbun.

When we make changes, we ensure they align with those values. So now matter how much we expand our team and our capacity to achieve more, we’re still that same fun-lovin’ brand our customers trust.

 

Especially now, everyone is trying to figure out their next moves — most of which are evolving completely in a digital space. If you were to start over from scratch, or could go back in time and do things differently, what would you do?

I would definitely encourage budding entrepreneurs to follow what drives them. That’s essentially what we did, and how we continue to operate.

 

As consumers, we are constantly inundated with new brands, marketing ploys, and products promising an improvement to our lives. So somehow, you, as the startup, need to differentiate yourself from all that noise — which I realize is what everyone says, but it’s true. Rather than prioritize your SEO standing, or a boring set of keywords, start with what makes you different. By embracing those values that set you apart, and building from there, you’re much more likely to achieve a lasting voice in your industry, and you’ll inevitably find a customer base who appreciates you.

 

Begin with the basics, slowly, and gradually build. We started with names, then layered in email, then hosting, and so on. One thing at a time is a cliche for a reason, and it works!
Thanks so much Ray! I really appreciate you taking the time and hope one of these days we can catch up in person. Until then, any final thoughts for our readers?
Thanks Robbie, I hope so too! I suppose, I would strongly encourage everyone to find those little sparks of laughter and joy wherever they can. It’s a crazy time, as we all are fully aware. Our team has definitely taken a lot of solace in laughing together each day (even if we’re not physically in the same space anymore) and we strive to share in that with our customers. So without being too saccharine, I’d say find what makes you smile and hold onto it — whether it’s a solo dance party, a cat video, or just a silly illustration from a playful brand — and we’ll be here doing the same!

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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