The inaugural Rocky Mountain Domain Conference was held in Downtown Denver, Colorado. Rick Waters summed up the conference location best in his recent press release:
“The event was held at a gorgeous Victorian mansion (which is actually the home of the Russian Consulate of Denver), where the attendees of the RMDC were treated with fine Western hospitality by Mike Law and his staff. This unique setting gave this regional domain conference a special character and the warmth of the building put attendees and speakers at ease.”
The event was sponsored by NameBee.com and Boxcar.com and supported by Name.com. While 33 attendees registered, the head count on Saturday totaled 27. Many of the attendees were locals, some of which were attending their first domain conference. Despite a dusting of snow on that came through the Denver metro area on Friday, the weather warmed up to almost 50F and sunny for the day of the event on Saturday.
Rocky Mountain Domain Conference 2011 started off with a great opening keynote speech delivered by Bill Mushkin, CEO and founder of the local Name.com domain name registrar. Bill really set the tone for an informative day with his keynote speech titled “Facebook’s Daughter”. Mushkin delivered a very insightful lecture on evolution of naming and went on to speak about the importance of recognizing social media and branding trends. Bill’s lecture was very warmly received and got attendees brain juices flowing, a great start to the event.
Rick Waters, CEO of Webcast1 from Del Ray Beach, Florida followed by sharing his insight on the state of the domain industry with a thought provoking proposition that .com name values may be declining and new domain extension values such as .co are on the rise. His philosophy stems from factors such as website audience leakage to Facebook, Twitter, and mobile apps and the general acceptance of newer extensions. Rick then gave a great Power Point presentation in his field of expertise, the presentation was titled “7 Steps of Premium Domain Development”.
The next speaker was Abdu Tarabichi, CEO of Domains Guru, Inc. Abdu joined us from Charlotte, North Carolina and delivered a great speech on domain buying and selling strategies that have made him a successful domain broker and reseller. Many of Abdu’s sales and acquisition strategies were new and interesting to domainers in attendance.
Following Abdu, I gave the next presentation. I decided to focus my speech on domain acquisition strategy, the expiring domain market, end user domain sale techniques and then I touched on my preferred investment TLD which second only to .COM is .TV.
Before lunch, each attendee was asked to introduce themselves, state their company or niche of interest and if they wanted, to share a brief summary of their experience with domains. Lunch was served at 1pm and attendees really made the best of this time to get some serious networking done during the hour lunch break.
Following lunch, I was joined by Braden Pollock of Legal Brand Marketing, LLC in a question and answer session where Braden went in depth on how he utilizes domain names to create leads for his comprehensive DUI network. Braden also gave great insight on why parking revenues are declining and how domain development can help domainers achieve higher revenues. So many conference goers I spoke with this week really enjoyed this session and the structure of this session. Braden is such a knowledgeable guy in this area we easily could have devoted a half day to this session and not lost the attention of the attendees.
Adam Torkildson, VP of operations at CustomerHook.com joined us from Utah and was the next speaker. Adam shared great insight on the importance of branding, data capture and website infrastructure necessary to achieve better SEO results for domain development. Adam also shared with us a brief history of his experience and knowledge gained from working with previous SEO and marketing companies. RMDC attendees were informed of a contest in which one lucky RMDC attendee will win a development package from CustomerHook.com valued at $5,000.
This presentation was followed by a panel featuring Jay Barr, president of JHB International and Buttons.com, Braden Pollock and Rick Waters, the discussion that I moderated. During the panel discussion Jay, Rick and Braden discussed further opportunities Jay could explore with e-commerce expansion of Buttons.com which is already one of the largest button and textile wholesalers in the world. I then asked Rick Waters covered the importance and SEO advantage that blogging gives to businesses and individuals alike. We discussed blogging technique and the difference between paid reviews and organic blog coverage. Finally, I asked Braden to share details about his most recent business partnership in which he is now a chairman and equity holder of Epik.com. We discussed ways the Epik platform can be used by domainers and developers as well as the most recent Google algorithm change.
At this point, we were supposed to have a short coffee break but I asked that for the sake of time we could skip the break and continue with our sessions. The speakers and information was getting very good so I felt that disruption at this stage would interfere. I did however take this opportunity to raffle off a great door prize which was won by Hal Meyer of Hog Advertising LLC, Hal made a trip from his home in Idaho to attend RMDC. The door prize awarded was an 8gb iPod Nano which was furnished by Name.com. Thanks Name!!
We skipped the afternoon break and were ready to hear from Mimi Rupp a trademark/new media attorney from Kenyon and Kenyon LLP (New York) who has successfully litigated many high profile domain dispute cases for domainers such as Mrs Jello, LLC, Domain Spa and Future Media Architects. Mimi gave a very informative speech titled ” Best Practices for UDRP-Proofing Your Most Valuable Domains”. This presentation was packed with excellent tips for portfolio holders on proven strategies that make it less likely to lose a domain in a UDRP decision or even receive a UDRP.
Annalisa Roger, founder of DotGreen Community Inc in San Francisco gave the next presentation. Annalisa, coming from a different perspective, shared her knowledge gained from working so closely with ICANN over the last few years in anticipation of submitting the .green application. Ms Roger provided her estimate on expected timeline for the gTLD approval and implementation as well as many other interesting gTLD facts and charts. It was great to learn so much about ICANN as well as the new gTLD process, history and future from someone who has been involved and looking to start a registry since 2006.
Jason Boshoff, CEO of Domain Holdings out of Palm Beach Florida rounded out RMDC 2011 with a very high energy, informative keynote speech on premium domain development strategy, domain frame working and finally shared Domain Holdings optimistic stance on the value of domain names and evolution of the domain space. Jason noted that private six and seven figure domain sales go on in the .com space so frequently that it’s really hard to gauge the state of the domain market by solely looking at auction and aftermarket results. Jason is originally from South Africa, he has a great presence as a speaker and his cool accent in conjunction with high energy speaking style ended RMDC on a very high note.
Attendees were treated to very nice rucksack gift bags and pint glasses provided by Name.com as well as a 2gb USB flash drive which was provided by Mimi Rupp of Kenyon and Kenyon.
The conference concluded a half an hour late but nobody seemed to mind as the attendees and speakers seemed to be buzzing with excitement and continued networking until the lights were dimmed and they were instructed to head to the cocktail reception. Following the event most of the attendees gathered at Randolph’s inside the Warwick Hotel for free drinks provided by RMDC. Networking, conversation and good times went on at Randolph’s for about three hours when the remaining group of twelve (including most speakers) decided to head to dinner together in downtown Denver for a taste of local Mexican food at Las Delicias Mexican Restaurant. Finally, after dinner around 11pm the group dispersed.
The following day Mimi Rupp, Annalisa Roger, Rick Waters and myself headed up to Copper Mountain Resort in Summit County to enjoy some skiing and snowboarding. Roger, Rupp and Waters all skied and I was the lone snowboarder in the group. For Annalisa Roger and Rick Waters this was the first time skiing in the mountains of Colorado and for Rick Waters the first time skiing in many years. The group enjoyed ideal conditions, with soft snow on the groomers (approx 10 inches of new snow fell the 72 hours prior). We had a nice lunch at a mid mountain restaurant called T-Rex Grill and then enjoyed happy hour food and drinks at Jack’s once we finished skiing and snowboarding. Our time at Copper Mountain was great fun and very rewarding for everyone. Although our skiing/snowboarding experience levels varied, we all got to enjoy the snow and scenery, I think it’s safe to say we all had a really great time.
All in all I was so happy with the way the Rocky Mountain Domain Conference 2011 turned out. I know many things could have been done better and I look forward to hearing some critique. Attendees I’ve spoken with have had so many positive remarks about RMDC and many were asking if I have plans to continue the conference again next year. At this point I can’t say I’m 100% certain, but I will say it’s definitely something I am planning for as I move forward from here.
I couldn’t have made RMDC possible without tremendous support from the domain community, top notch help with catering/organizing from my wonderful girlfriend Ana Rosales as well as the Directional Marketing team here in Denver and the great speakers that traveled to Denver from all over the country and really provided excellent, timely information for attendees of RMDC. I owe a million thanks to everyone that had anything to do with the Rocky Mountain Domain Conference, this includes bloggers that wrote about it, friends in the industry who I spoke with and gave me advice and my family who have supported and encouraged my idea for the organizing a conference from the beginning.
More photos and video will be shared soon on the RMDC.co website. I’ll be sure to tweet and probably do a follow up post here once I have all the media organized. One thing I will definitely do differently next time is make sure to use social media to create a bigger buzz on conference day. On Saturday I was so focused on the execution of the conference that I even forgot to mention a Twitter hash tag and didn’t encourage attendees to talk it up on their social networks. Well, live and learn.
I have so many more thoughts and insights I want to share about RMDC which I will have to save for a follow up post.