news Flippa Holds First Masterclass Featuring a Fireside Chat With Co-Founder Matt Mickiewicz

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“You wouldn’t buy a bag of chips or a toothbrush made by Tide, would you?” Matt Mickiewicz said after I inquired why all of his companies have separate brand identities and are separate entities unlike Google or Apple. He further explained that each company was a strategic move in another direction with new investors.

Matt, co-founder of the online marketplace, participated in a fireside chat at Flippa’s first Masterclass on November 22nd in San Francisco. Located in the tech industry’s epicenter in the SOMA district, Flippa’s Masterclass was an all-day event filled to the brim with entrepreneurs looking to learn more about flipping domains, web-based businesses and networking. What I believed would have been a routine workshop turned out to be a multi-faceted instructional event where Flippa’s staff delivered presentations and explored topics with the audience that were beneficial beyond their own platform.

Presentations included SEO tactics, strategies for buying and selling domains and websites on their platform, and the due diligence process of transactions. One of the best cautionary notes from their due diligence presentation was to never trust a screenshot for proof of information. Within seconds, the speaker demonstrated how easy it was to edit and create a PayPal balance showing $1,000,000 without leaving Chrome. By far one of the most useful pieces of information I learned was the success of sellers on their platform that launched their auction with a low starting price to invoke a crowd-like bidding mentality. This coupled with ending the auction at peak times in the middle of the week from 3-6pm usually yield the best outcome.

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Tickets for the Masterclass ranged from $99-$499 depending on when attendees purchased them. After the event, Flippa presented each attendee with over $300 in discounts and credits to several websites including Matt’s own 99designs and Flippa, almost paying for the ticket itself.

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The fireside chat with Matt seemed to be the liveliest portion of the event where he spoke about his beginnings as an entrepreneur. Referencing how he’s able to manage and delegate so much across his several companies, Matt proclaimed if you spend 60 hours a week personally maintaining your own business, you might want to work for someone else’s.

When an audience member asked Matt for any ideas regarding future companies, he replied with the advice of following his model of capitalizing on current broken platforms by perfecting marketplaces that will crowd-source talent to solve a problem. On a final note, he counseled future entrepreneurs that the lifestyle is not for the faint of heart, but whatever career path you choose there is always one thing a person can count on, “we can either pay income tax or capital gains.”
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Sounds like it was super interesting. I prefer 1-day events packed with content just like this. I wish I had known about this event.

I love the Tide response! That's an interesting perspective.
Thanks for the coverage, Edward!
I’m sorry, but I must respectfully disagree to the answer of the question being posed in the response to a side-step witty question by co-founder Matt Mickiewicz, “You wouldn’t buy a bag of chips or a toothbrush made by Tide, would you?”

I have to end there to make a point to potential individuals going into business to determine what they should do with their primary company and subsidiaries.

However, the answer to that rhetorical question will be almost certainly in some form of "no". That is, if the consumer wasn’t knowledgeable enough to have known or have seen a box marked with the company name Proctor & Gamble.

So, no, I wouldn’t buy a toothbrush nor would I purchase a bag of chips from Tide. Though, I would buy a toothbrush from Oral-B and a tube of Pringles.

Had you been unaware of the link between Proctor and Gamble and Tide, Oral-B and Pringles, now you do. Essentially, yes, you will buy a bag of chips and a toothbrush from P&G, unknowingly, needless to say. This isn’t because they took the route of branding each company, rather acquiring companies deciding on not re-branding to P&G respectively. This could potential lead to lost market share. Each keeps a unique brand.

If I hadn’t known more about Flippa being associated with 99designs, I may have never used Flippa before if I had a bad experience with 99designs. This is due to the two companies being entirely separated and it isn’t publically mentioned in the footer or about page that “Flippa is a XYZ” company, in addition to the other entities they operate.

While acknowledging that, pick up your can of Sprite, Fanta or even Minute Maid and take a closer look. It’s much less recognizable on an American can as it is a Japanese can or bottle. Nevertheless, it does have the famous signature marking it as a Coca-Cola Company still written in the Spencerian script that the once bookkeeper and marketer of Coca-Cola Frank Mason Robinson designed.

Now, Coke could obviously rebrand every flavor to Coke: Orange Flavor, Coke: Lime, Coke: 100% Orange Juice. On the other hand, reading that now gives you the sense that it is Coca-Cola with a mix of those flavors due to how deeply rooted Coca-Cola is.

This type of response by Matt gives; let’s say a Washington State resident, the impression on paying $180.00 to brand all of their websites as a separate identity. It’s not only expensive in most states if you plan on having multiple brands; which you'll likely afford in the future, but delivers a shield between the parent company and the entity formed.

It’s of my personal opinion that each company should begin with a distinctive brand, yes. Yet, if you state that the unique brand you created is not a part of a greater picture, or is not easily found as the examples given, you might be hiding behind a wall in the event of failure of one entity.

It is the integral reason as to why everything I say or do has “David J. Walker” or “DJW” attached to it. It’s in the event that company X or company Y fail, everyone is aware that David J. Walker was the primary reason and I assume all liabilities of failure, or take credit for success.

So, think before you brand. The real question you should be asking yourself by this point is, “Do you want the ability to hide behind a facade or do you want to take pride in the services you provide?”

If Gucci were to be found using child labor, the stock of P&G would surely plummet because it's "well-known" to investors that it is their brand. Proctor and Gamble is the company that ultimately assumes responsibilities of the operations there and is to fix it, in order for other brands held by them to not fail either.

Why the need to have a guise if you’re not doing anything unethical or wrong?

If Flippa were to fail or perhaps be caught up in a scandal is it well known that 99designs was basically the same company? No. This leaves users to assume that 99designs is fine, but Flippa still leaves a bad taste in their mouth like Tide chips would.
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@David Walker
He further explained that each company was a strategic move in another direction with new investors.

I'm sure this was the primary reason. There are many legitimate and sensible reasons to form a new company for a new venture, and many of them come down to structure and the simplicity that the separation provides. Things get complicated very quickly when you introduce new partners, co-founders, investors, and employees with stock options into an existing company when their addition to the company is for the sole purpose of building a new product from scratch. It's much simpler to create a new business entity in these situations.

Personally, I prefer the Apple and Google approach, but it's not always the most cost effective, especially if it complicates the operations and structure of a business and its partnerships. Legal and accounting fees will quickly add up to significantly more than the cost of forming a new corporation.
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