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James Iles

Inside Interview: A First Look At the $240,000 Lawn.com Purchase

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By James Iles, Mar 15, 2016
  1. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Business Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    This year's NamesCon live domain auction produced almost $1.5MM in sales, with 92 of the 131 live auction listings being sold. The largest sale was the $240,000 sale of Lawn.com, which was acquired by an Atlanta-based company who are already putting the name to good use. Billy Van Eaton, John Ball, and Charles Lumpkin are the team behind Lawn.com, an innovative new landscaping company.

    After finalizing a $2.6MM funding round last month, Lawn.com have revealed that they plan to expand their operation through staff development and customer acquisition, with expansion into other cities expected to start within the next 12 months.

    In this Inside Interview, we find out more about why this team acquired Lawn.com, how they came to value the domain name, and their advice for acquiring premium domain names.


    NP: Can you tell us about the company behind Lawn.com?


    Lawn.com: Lawn.com was founded by Billy Van Eaton, John Ball, and Charles Lumpkin. Billy and John have profitably operated and grown a landscaping company to one of the largest in Atlanta. As they grew their business, they developed a unique and scalable model for servicing single family homes that allowed them to deliver their high customer service all while operating at market-rate prices.

    The founding team capped an initial round of $2.6MM in February 2016 and is working to deploy the capital for customer acquisition, continued technology infrastructure, and staff development. All of the capital was raised locally in Atlanta with the majority coming from local Private Equity groups. Lawn.com has revenues eclipsing several million dollars and the company was cash flow positive on day one.

    Providing remarkable customer services experiences in residential landscaping, Lawn.com continues to intentionally operate only in Atlanta, but we will expand across the Southeast in early 2017.


    NP: You recently acquired Lawn.com for $240,000. Why did you choose to develop your business on a premium domain name?

    Lawn.com: We believe in premium domain names. You gain instant credibility from customers, vendors, and investors. We believe that we can redouble the value of the domain asset many times over.


    NP: Lawn.com was acquired during NamesCon’s live auction. How did you find out about the event? Were you bidding in the room?

    Lawn.com: Our team has a long history of buying, monetizing, and selling premium names. We watched the public auction for two months prior to the event. We did not personally attend the event, but we engaged a broker at the event that negotiated on our behalf. We have purchased other domains through him before.


    NP: Can you reveal your total budget for the domain? Would you have submitted a higher bid if necessary?

    Lawn.com: Can't show all our cards!


    NP: How did you determine that the domain was worth $240,000 to you? Did you use any tools (e.g., automated appraisals) or data (e.g., sales data, search volumes, search results) to determine its value?

    Lawn.com: Our team has a history in purchasing and monetizing domains. We were able to calculate the value to us and our strategy for monetization. I can’t tell you the exact formula, but I’ll show you some pieces of it.

    A company first needs to deeply understand the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer. There are several ways to calculate this, but it comes down to a series of payments and cash flows on some type of regularity into the future. You then take the present value of the margin of all those future payments to understand today’s LTV.

    Once you understand your customer economics, you can then begin the next series of calculations.

    What you are ultimately trying to prove is how much the premium name asset is worth to you now and into the future. You do this by calculating estimated lift for each marketing channel by owning the premium name vs. a generic hand registration. Once you’ve calculated the channel lift, you can project that into the future and determine the real value of the asset to your business. Assigning channel-by-channel lift takes some effort and experience, but ultimately that is what drives cash flow lift over time.

    You also consider (albeit with less weight) how much brand value is driven through the name. But you bet on the sure horse of increased sales and take the brand value as nice addition.

    Auction bidding for a premium name can then be driven by these models.


    NP: Was it a team decision to ultimately acquire this domain or a decision driven by one person in particular?

    Lawn.com: Our Board of Directors, including the founders, made the final decision to buy the name and pricing.


    NP: Before purchasing Lawn.com, did you ever consider acquiring and rebranding to any other domain name (such as Grass.com), or was it always going to be Lawn.com?

    Lawn.com: No, Lawn.com was the only name we considered.


    NP: Although you have only recently acquired the name, have you had any feedback from customers or staff regarding your new domain name?

    Lawn.com: In general, we always get great reactions when people learn about our name and company. It really does give people the understanding that our brand stands for service and quality.


    NP: Do you have any advice for any companies who may be considering acquiring a high-value premium domain name?

    Lawn.com: We highly encourage others to consider buying premium names. You really need a clear plan on monetization and a deep understanding of your underlying economics, but domain names are great assets!

    --

    Thanks to the Lawn.com team for participating in Inside Interviews and taking the time to provide such detailed answers.

    I think this interview provides a fascinating look at how a company can value a domain name through specific metrics that could be useful from a domain sales point of view, as well. It will be very interesting to track the progress of this company. To find out more about the company and their services, visit Lawn.com.



    Inside Interviews is a blog series profiling the buyers of high-value domain names. Find out their motives, negotiation tactics, and their opinions on popular domaining topics only on the NamePros Blog.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. James Iles

    About The Author — James Iles

    Writer for NamePros.com, domain name investor and broker. For all inquiries relating to stories and interviews, please email: [email protected]

    This is James Iles's 165th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (11)

  6. Napkin.com

    Napkin.com Heritage Auctions Heritage Auctions VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    interesting. thanks for sharing!
     
  7. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer BrandBucket Brand Ambassador PRO VIP

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    "We believe in premium domain names. You gain instant credibility from customers, vendors and investors. We believe that we can redouble the value of the domain asset many times over."

    We hear this over and over from end users who buy top quality names. It's a great business investment.
     
  8. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer BrandBucket Brand Ambassador PRO VIP

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    I just looked at the website. These guys are smart businessman and know the value of customer acquisition:
    • You're first cut is free
    • No long term contracts
    • Call for an instant quote
    Slam, bam,......... almost every major sales objection overcome in the first few seconds of visiting the page.
    These guys are gonna go places.........
     
  9. nvdomains

    nvdomains Established Member

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    Good interview. Dream buyers.
     
  10. johname

    johname Futbol VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Well bought domain.

    One calculation that is supreme is that 50 years from now people will still be calling their lawn a lawn.

    Good luck Billy and others
     
  11. kollam003

    kollam003 Business Member Business Account

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    Inspiring
     
  12. coconut

    coconut Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I guess the lifetime value of a lawn customer will extend to successive generations of a family who own the same property. And when people notice a well cared for lawn and ask who looks after it, how easy is it to say lawn.com!

    Thanks for a great interview James and kudos Billy, John and Charles on this smart domain acquisition and excellent development of your business model. Atlanta today, the Southeast in 2017, the World in 2020 - you guys are gonna be the Uber of lawns!
     
  13. Kassey Lee

    Kassey Lee 域名世界 Business Account VIP

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  14. AuctionBio

    AuctionBio Active Member VIP

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    Valuable information. Keep it up guys. This also shows that how much valuable the premium domains are. and rightly so a premium domain name is a great asset to have.
     
  15. impulse

    impulse Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Interesting info, thanks.
     
  16. Ann Joseph

    Ann Joseph New Member

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    First of all thanks for this wonderful information. This will help all. In this interview he explained about the company behind Lawn.com very well.
     
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