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Bob Hawkes

Meet Steven Tey, The Young Developer of One Word Domains

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By Bob Hawkes, Dec 9, 2020
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    There is an elegance to single word domains. Few valuable single word domains are available to be registered in most extensions, and it can be challenging to find those that are unregistered. Steven Tey encountered that, and said to himself ‘there must be a tool that makes it easy to find available single word domain names.’ But there wasn’t, at least not exactly what he was seeking. So he created One Word Domains and made it available to startup owners and domain investors.

    StevenTeyTitle.png

    Innovative domain investors have created and shared many useful products over the years. What sets Steven apart is his age, he is currently in his last year as an undergraduate student, and the speed that the project went from concept to working product. He had a beta operational within a week, and OneWord.Domains was being accessed by a large community of users within months. It is also noteworthy that, although he stood on the shoulders of existing codes and databases, the product was essentially developed by a single person.

    I thought it would be interesting for NamePros readers to learn a bit more about Steven Tey, the person behind One Word Domains. I hope the interview provides interesting perspectives for those considering their own development projects.

    Is it really possible that development of One Word Domains commenced only in May of 2020? Can you tell us a bit more about the birth of the project?

    It started back in May of this year, during my summer break. I was planning a project, but I couldn't seem to find a brandable short one word domain name. I'm a fan of one word domain names, and that sort of frustrated me. So it got me thinking, why hasn't anyone taken the top 10,000 most commonly used English words and paired them up with a bunch of TLDs like .ai, .io, .co – the ones that are more popular among startups. I gave myself a deadline of one week to complete the project. It was also good practice for me to learn more about web development. Within a week I launched One Word Domains. A week later it was on the front page of Hacker News - you can read the archived discussion here. It also achieved a high rating on Product Hunt - read the discussion about One Word Domains launch here.

    You are a data science and brand management student at Minerva. The program at Minerva sounds very innovative. Can you tell us a bit about the experiences that you have had, and how they influenced this project?

    So Minerva is a fairly new school that started in 2014. The main idea is students get to participate in active learning. The second cool thing is we get to travel to a different country every semester to immerse ourselves in the local culture, work with local companies, basically just be a global citizen – that's the whole unique selling proposition of Minerva. It's been a fun experience. I've got to know a lot of different people around the world. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to start their undergraduate studies now.

    We start our first semester in San Francisco, because it's where one of the schools is based. The second year we go to Seoul in South Korea, and then Hyderabad in India. And then third year to Germany, followed by Buenos Aires in Argentina. Although the fourth year is supposed to be in London, because of COVID I decided to come back to San Francisco. The final semester was supposed to be in Taipei in Taiwan.

    Clearly you entered the project with a lot of background and expertise so you could hit the ground running. Also, you made use of some existing open source resources. Can you briefly take us through the process of how One Word Domains was developed.
    • I went on Github to find the most commonly used words from different categories like adjectives, verbs, nouns, etc.
    • I wrote a Python script that would call a WHOIS API to check for the availability for each of these domains.
    • I used the Flask framework, which is a micro framework that works really well with Python. It's a very popular framework, especially amongst people who are building simple web apps or API's and stuff like that.
    • For the front end, I kept it simple, I use HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
    • I also use Mailgun and MailChimp for my email marketing.
    • For the database, I'm using PostgreSQL.
    You can read more details about the development process for One Word Domains on Steven’s website.

    When and how did you first become interested in domain names? Other than using them for projects, do you invest in domain names for resale?

    I've been a perfectionist when it comes to branding and naming a project, sometimes it takes me up to three months to get the final name. I'm mainly buying names for development. I did sell a domain name before, but it was a name that I chose for a project that ended up not working out.

    As well as filling an obvious need, and being technically responsive, One Word Domains has taken off partly because you have been successful in getting attention. Can you tell us a bit about how you got the project noticed.

    I posted on Reddit to get some attention, spoke with several people in the domain world, had a session on it at The Domain Show with Page Howe, and have been posting a bit on NamePros whenever I have a new feature coming out. Those have been my main sources of organic traffic. I'm mainly focusing on the product itself and trying to create the best user experience and make sure that everything works well.

    The Slick carousel you use is a nice first page experience. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

    It's called Slick JS. It's a really good framework for carousels. I wanted to build one by myself, but I decided to just use a carousel JavaScript framework that was already out there. And I've been using it on all my pages ever since.

    How do you monetize Single Word Domains?

    Currently there are two revenue streams – the first is the affiliate commission from registrars and marketplaces whenever someone purchases a name through One Word Domains. The second is the premium feature where people pay to get access to more TLDs as well as additional features. For example, I recently launched a Watchlist feature where people can monitor up to 50 domains that they're interested in, and get notified every time the nameserver changes.

    I see from your LinkedIn profile that you have been involved in a number of other projects, including a co-founder at dBay a P2P commission-free marketplace for crypto, and Nadan, a way to bring students and admissions consultants together. Want to tell us more about either of those, or other projects you have played important roles in?

    When I started at Minerva I was quickly introduced to the scene of startups and blockchain and cryptocurrencies – this was in San Francisco in 2017 and Bitcoin was the hype. In my freshman year summer I did an internship at this incubator in Tokyo where we worked on building a startup that uses AI and blockchain and that was a really good experience. While that didn't really work out – we ended up selling the company back to the incubator – I went on to build another startup that was in the EdTech space with a friend of mine, and that introduced me to the world of product management. That's when I did my first product management internship at this company in New York, Noodle Partners. Noodle Partners creates online programs for universities. I learned a lot about how to work with people and create the best user experience based on needs.

    Now that you have interacted with the domain community, what have your perceptions been?

    Before coming in, I had heard people describe domainers as being people who hoard domain names and never sell them. But after stepping into the industry this summer, I've had a really good impression with the many people that I've spoken to. So many people are really helpful and very willing to give feedback and help me improve the product. I would like to give a shout-out to a few like Braden Pollock, a really amazing guy, Josh Reason, he runs the Josh.co podcast and DNWE, was really fun to chat with, Andrew Allemann from DomainNameWire, Page Howe and many more. So it really did change my perception of the industry as a whole. There's a lot of creativity involved, a lot of innovation – although I would say that some of the biggest companies in this space really are pretty slow in innovating and there's a huge opportunity for startups to come out and disrupt the industry.

    I understand that before you became a developer you were a successful writer, writing under a pseudonym a science fiction book that won the award for best use of visuals in a global WattPad competition. At 1500 copies, and 850,000 WattPad reads, it was a major success. With everything going on now, do you still have time to write?

    I personally don't have much time to read or write fiction at the moment, although I would love to get back to it. What I do nowadays is mainly write technical articles. Recently I wrote about how you can build a mobile widget using just 30 lines of JavaScript. I think that's something that could be useful for a lot of other people as well. I wrote a Hackernoon article about my experience with One Word Domains.

    The book Someone’s In My Head that I wrote while in high school was a science fiction novel – it was a story of a teenage boy who went through a car accident and when he woke up, there was someone else's consciousness inside his head. And he had to figure out who that person is. So he set out on this crazy adventure to figure out, and it was full of plot twists and revelations. There were over 800,000 people who read it on Wattpad. I've sold over 1500 copies of the physical book. I was in high school at that time, and I went to different schools to promote my book. It was, I would say, my first introduction to entrepreneurship. Not exactly startups, but it taught me about running my own business, promoting, marketing, and getting sales. It was a really good experience, that I'm really lucky to have had.

    I saved the hard question for nearly last! Why isn’t One Word Domains on a single word domain name?

    I noticed this irony in hindsight, when someone pointed it out. I have thought about rebranding eventually to a shorter .com domain name, but for now I'm staying on OneWord.Domains. They call it a moat in the startup world, a differentiating factor that separates yourself from the competition. I'm still trying to find that factor, and once I do, I will invest in a name that is short and one-word and will become my long term name. But I think "One Word Domains" is a good name for now.

    I agree that your existing name perfectly describes the product.
    What plans for the future would you like to share with NamePros readers?


    Currently, I'm working on a site-wide search feature for One Word Domains . With over 350,000 domain names currently on the site, it is critical to be able to access that information in an efficient way. I've had this this feature requests from a ton of users. I'm working right now on a new way to search, using the Spacy NLP library. It's a machine learning library. If you give it a word, it will find the words that have the closest similarity score with that search word. So it's not just using the root word, but also other similar words. Note added: I see this search is now active in One Word Domains.

    Another feature that I'm working on is a domain name generator. I know, it's very overdone, but I really want to do something that is highly personalized to the users preferences, and hopefully something that can disrupt the competition. What I envision is you will put in different aspects of your preferences somewhat similar to a personality test, and it comes up with a holistic brand profile that it uses for recommended names. It also checks for trademark evaluation, social handles and more, all in one tool. I think it's a much grander project, and I am developing it for my senior thesis, which is really exciting.

    What are your plans after graduation from university?

    I'm going to be doing my own thing, my own startup, or work at a fast-growth startup for the first couple of years, and then eventually maybe go to a bigger company.

    I like this quote from Steven’s online backgrounder:
    He also comments in the same post on the domain field.
    You can learn more about Steven Tey and his work at StevenTey.com. You can connect with Steven on NamePros StevenTey. From time to time he posts in the NamePros promotional section, such as when he announced the subscription model.

    Thank you very much for the interview, Steven. It was very inspiring and illuminating to learn more about you!

    I suspect numerous NamePros members have ideas for great tools. I hope that this interview will inspire more to take the step of developing them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2020
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and informal educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 69th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

    Home Page:
    https://namesthat.win
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  5. Comments (32)

  6. vivadh

    vivadh Established Member

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    Its great to know about Steven Tey, Thank you Bob.
    Inspiring story to those who have ideas in mind but hesitate to start with.
     
  7. The Durfer

    The Durfer Top Contributor VIP Gold Account

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  8. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Thank you so much for having me on, Bob! It was a great pleasure speaking with you about One Word Domains and getting to know your story as well!

    If any of you have any questions for me about my journey, or if you'd just like to chat about investing/tech/anything in general, I'd love to connect with you on Twitter (or if you don't have Twitter, email works fine too)! 😇
     
  9. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Thanks so much for the kind words, Vivadh! I'm glad to hear that you were able to get inspired by my story, and I hope you'll be able to take this as motivation and start something of your own! Good luck!
     
  10. vivadh

    vivadh Established Member

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    I am new guy in the industry and learning as much as I can. Hope to start something good in coming days. Thank you for your reply.
     
  11. BradWilson

    BradWilson Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Great write up @Bob Hawkes and congrats to @steventey for an excellent idea and releasing the product so quickly.

    Bob, there must be a psychic connection between us because your last comment must be directed at me??? Ha just kidding.
    I'm sure it was just you telling me/us to hurry up and finish already :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2020
  12. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    I really enjoyed interviewing @steventey , totally impressed by his accomplishments, and excited by his plans (I also have personally found One Word Domains a useful service, and have recently snagged some one word .ca, .org and .online with assistance from it. As with anything, it is a starting point and you need to carefully research the possibilities presented.

    I am really glad that Steven said the following, which I totally agree with. While there has been innovation in the domain industry, I think there is fertile ground to disrupt and do things in more efficient ways.
    The sort of search that he describes at end, developing a profile for what is of interest to the person, is so missing in our industry in my opinion. The idea of that has been discussed a few times, but no one to my knowledge really did anything about implementing it. In this post on the DAN thread I proposed a series of perhaps 10 simple questions to define what a person was looking for, and a smart, but seeming personal, bot providing a personalized list.

    Excited by the work you have already done, Steven, and your plans for the coming year.

    Thanks again,

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2020
  13. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    That sounds amazing, Vivadh – love the entrepreneurial spirit! Best of luck, and do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2020
  14. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Thanks a lot for the kind words, Brad! Would love to see what you're building – is it a domain-related product too? 😃
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2020
  15. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Really appreciate the detailed analysis, Bob! I'm glad you were able to find value in the tool. I'm definitely planning to improve the quality of the names on the site by curating better options, and would really appreciate any feedback that any of you might have on that!

    I'm also super excited to hear your thoughts on the personalized domain/brand name recommendation tool that I'm currently developing for One Word Domains. What I have in mind is definitely a recommendation tool that's more holistic and personalized instead of a generic generator that is usually a hit and miss. I'm actually building this for my senior year thesis too so I'm really excited to build this out!

    Love the checklist you came up with on the DAN thread – I also have a checklist of my own that I'm planning to implement in the tool and this is super helpful!

    Thank you so much for the support again, Bob!
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2020
  16. kandyan

    kandyan Top Contributor VIP

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  17. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Thanks Kandyan, glad you liked it! :)
     
  18. falez

    falez Established Member

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    it sounds like his website is heavily reliant on frameworks, etc. hopefully its not too reliant.
     
  19. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Thank you for the concern, Falez! Most of the tech on the site is built with Vanilla JavaScript, while the backend is powered by Flask – which is a highly reliable Python web framework that powers some of the largest companies in the world like Netflix, Lyft, and Airbnb. I'm planning to build out my own Slick.js alternative in the future too but it won't really affect the core functionalities of the site even if it breaks down, so don't worry, we're in good hands! ;)
     
  20. falez

    falez Established Member

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    then youd just have to build yourself your own machine learning library :P
     
  21. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Haha that would be incredible – I actually did that for the Search feature (trained a model on the 500K words on the site) and that took forever 😂computational constraints are real
     
  22. BradWilson

    BradWilson Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    You're welcome.

    Yes, my project is domain related just closer to your 2nd project but a bit different. I won't say more because I don't want to hijack this thread.
     
  23. falez

    falez Established Member

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    im kicking myself now that i didnt build a website like yours because i was scraping the availability of dictionary words like a year and a bit ago :(
     
  24. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    The astro side of me is wondering what you use for the Stars/Planets category on One Word Domains, @steventey ? I see that the proper names of a number of the brightest stars are there. Is the planet list just the major 8/9 or does it include a selection of the minor planets like Ceres, Vesta etc. and if so how do you decide where to limit it?

    What about galaxies, are they included and if so just Andromeda and a few well known or?

    It is a topic I am familiar with, so if you ever need help don't hesitate to reach out.

    A number of astronomical names are used in company and product names, so I think it is an important category. At some point I plan a blog post on astronomical names used in company names, and related domain name sales.

    Bob

    PS I also meant to ask whether you include the names of the 88 official constellations.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
  25. BradWilson

    BradWilson Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Ha now I know we truly are connected...

    I was an astronomy major at SDSU until I realized it was super difficult and didn't pay worth beans.

    At that point, I started my shift into programming, 3D animation/video and marketing.
     
  26. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    No worries at all – your project sounds cool! Feel free to send it over when you're done – I'd love to check it out! :D
     
  27. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Haha I feel ya – there are so many times I'd see a cool startup and think to myself, "damn, I should've done this too"! But hey, it's never too late to try – you should definitely build it out and see how it does! :)
     
  28. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    I believe I'm using a list of the top stars/planetary bodies – but I think it's time I refined that list and perhaps add a few other names like the ones you mentioned (galaxy names are super cool too!)

    Let's discuss this on Twitter! :D
     
  29. steventey

    steventey Established Member

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    Ahh yes, the latter are definitely more marketable skills, but astronomy is super cool too – I remember wanting to be an astronaut when I was younger and I would be super fascinated by the stars and end up memorizing their names for fun...good old times :P
     
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