Oscar D.: I would like to welcome to the studio today Colin Campbell, CEO of DotClub. Welcome, Colin.
Colin C.: Thank you for having me.
Oscar D.: Tell us a little bit about DotClub.
Colin C.: DotClub is a domain extension. You may have heard of dot com, dot net, dot org. DotClub is an alternative to those domain extensions. It’s something that I’ve been working on for about three years. I was able to win the domain name in an auction from an organization called I can, the internet corporation the names and numbers on the internet. With that, when we were able to launch the name only about 120 days ago. We currently have over 120,000 registrations, so it’s just exploded. It’s worldwide as well. It’s truly a global brand. It’s something that is used and means the same in almost every country in the world.
Oscar D.: That’s fantastic. What motivated you to launch DotClub?
Colin C.: You know, I’ve done a number of businesses in my life. After a while, I began to realize the formula that works really well for me are businesses that have a strong moat and that are very scalable. DotClub really fits well into that model. I also think that it’s a word that means come together. It’s a passion of mine to help bring people together. I’m a member of about probably 60 clubs, everything from a buying to a social club, an entrepreneur’s club as well. It’s a passion of mine.
Oscar D.: Colin, what is your long-term vision for DotClub?
Colin C.: I think within 5 years, we can have millions of DotClub domain names registered. There are so many types of clubs from golf clubs, to fan clubs, to social clubs, even entrepreneur’s clubs, like I mentioned earlier. DotClub means so many things to so many different people, and it’s fascinating to see. Even individuals who have a passion about something can build a DotClub. My daughter, who loves Sherlock Holmes, has launched 221B.club, which is a blog. What we found … we found very recently that a lot of blogs are branding themselves as a club. If you think about it, a community has a blog, and where there’s a community, there’s a DotClub as well. We really see the internet like neighborhoods. You have dot com, dot net, dot org … org meaning not for profit and dot club meaning something different, come together, bring your members together. We also see it very popular amongst entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur who have a business idea or a concept they want to launch around subscription-based models. I’m involved with a company called Treat A Dog, which just launched in the last couple of months. It’s just taking off. It’s like a BarkBox competitor. Yesterday they shipped 750 orders monthly orders. Again, that’s a monthly accretive business model.
Oscar D.: Are you new to the internet space or is this one of many internet ventures?
Colin C.: Yeah, right out of university I had a passion for the internet. My brother and I started a company in Canada called Internet Direct. We took it public. We started a company called Tucows. We sold that company in ’99. We started a company called Hostopia. We took that company public in 2006. It was the fastest growing company in Canada in 2006. Then we also … I launched with two other partners a company called GeeksForLess, which is an IT development technology development firm with about 800 employees today in the Ukraine and Philippines as well, and then DotClub as well.
Oscar D.: Do you ever get to sleep?
Colin C.: I sleep wonderfully. I really do. In the 90s, when you’re first sort of grinding it out, the stress really obviously hits you, but truthfully, now it’s for me … I don’t get stressed out anymore. For me, it’s more of a passion. I just enjoy it. It’s a game. It’s for me. It’s totally fun. I don’t distinguish between, for instance, going to work and not going to work. When I’m at home, I’m working or doing things around DotClub. When I’m at work, I’m having fun with the guys brainstorming, coming up with different ideas. I’m in a good place right now and really excited about where I’m at and where I’m going.
Oscar D.: In preparation for the launch of DotClub, did you create a detailed business plan?
Colin C.: Very detailed business plan. In fact, it’s quite an interesting story. We actually had to put together a business plan and present that to the internet government to demonstrate why it’s in the best interesting of the internet community to have our company run the DotClub extension. We had to come up with detailed projections. The application fee was $185,000. Our legal fees were about $300,000, so we had about $500,000, and we had absolutely no idea whether or not we were going to get the name. In fact, we were very lucky because Google and Amazon who went for almost 200 domain extensions did not go for DotClub. Obviously, in an auction with Google and Amazon, it might be a little tricky for us to win, but we were faced with an auction. We did go up against a company that had raised a hundred million dollars and had applied for over 300 domain extensions. We were very lucky in that we were able to win that auction and be the provider for DotClub.
Oscar D.: How were you able to initially finance the launch of DotClub?
Colin C.: That’s another fascinating story. Obviously, the very beginning we had a few partners who financed it, but 30 days before the auction I had to raise 7 million dollars. I couldn’t use a broker either because if I had publicly went out with an offering, then my competitors would know exactly how to bid the auction up. In this particular auction, it was a private auction where the winner would pay the two losers. I had to raise 7 million dollars. I had 30 days. What I did is I went on my LinkedIn, and literally with my LinkedIn contacts were able to identify 45 prospects. Within two weeks of sending them a teaser and then the private placement memorandum we were able … 26 investors came in to buy shared in DotClub. They’re fascinating too because they’re people that I’ve met throughout my life. Even for example when I spoke at MIT, there was an individual in the audience who saw me speak who’s now an investor in DotClub.
Oscar D.: Absolutely fascinating.
Colin C.: I don’t think I could have done it without LinkedIn. It really is an amazing tool.
Oscar D.: Unbelievable. What would you say is perhaps the most unusual or creative sales tactic to acquire a partner in the DotClub business?
Colin C.: I don’t if it’s unusual or not, but it really is … First and foremost, the customer has to like us. It’s wining and dining. It’s going out and having fun. It’s going to the clubs. We do need to make a connection with the individuals we’re working with. Unusual, you know, I’m thinking of my prior company at Hostopia where we did some unusual things. For instance, we rented a helicopter in Vegas, flew them into the Grand Canyon with three of our partners and one prospect, and then in the Grand Canyon we said, well, we’re either going to do the deal or we’re leaving you behind, right? You do what it takes when it comes to these large partners distributions. You do what it takes. Interesting thing about DotClub is we sell all over the world.
I’ve traveled to about 30 countries in the last four or five months. I’ve been to China three times this year. I’ve had some fascinating dinners and meals. I remember in Istanbul we had to climb a mountain, my chief marketing officer Jeffrey Sass. We had to climb a mountain … got to the top of the mountain after about 45 minutes. We sat on a rooftop for four hours just overlooking Istanbul. It was absolutely amazing. One thing I really enjoy about DotClub is I have traveled to so many countries. In Japan, having to sit on the floor for three hours and have lunch. It’s just been so fascinating … and learning all the cultures and meeting so many new friends and working with them on brainstorming on different ideas of how we could bring DotClub to that country.
Oscar D.: Colin, you are one of the most fascinating entrepreneurs I have ever meet in my life.
Colin C.: Thank you.
Oscar D.: You leave behind you a string of success after success after success after success. I would say everything you touch turns to gold, but perhaps more appropriate, everything you touch turns to diamonds. I would love to be part of your business, so here’s a what-if question. If I were to make an investment into your company, and I gave you a blank check, how much would you fill out the check for, and how would you deploy those funds?
Colin C.: That’s fairly easy. I would go with five million for DotClub. We would deploy those funds in building market for DotClub. Traditional television, those type of things, working with the registrars to promote DotClub, but some innovative stuff as well. Very recently we did a deal with 50 Cent. When we launched DotClub, we had 50 Cent come to New York to do the big launch. 50 cent also has 50Inda.club. 50, 5-0, I-n-d-a, .club, as his featured fan club site as well. Interesting, following that Demi Lovato launched Lovato.club, and there have been over 500,000 people who have viewed Lovato.club. You can begin to see … If we can work with founders, right, entrepreneurs working on a project right now for LasVegas.club, which you’ll hear a lot more about in the next few months. That’s with an entrepreneur Shaving.club is another company that just launched. We’re working very closely with that entrepreneur. There are so many club concepts that the entrepreneurs can grab onto. We actually would support some of these companies in their sales and marketing efforts, as long as it’s promoting the brand DotClub.
Oscar D.: Colin, today’s your lucky day. You not only get a check of 5 million dollars to invest in your company, but I’m also going to give you some magical powers, but just for a few minutes. You now have the ability of rolling back the clock to the first day of the launch of DotClub. You could now reverse any decision that you made. What would you change?
Colin C.: I would have applied for many more strengths. Dot group, Dot team, Dot social, and even if I wasn’t able to win those in auction, there was an opportunity that I [inaudible 00:12:01] a private auction, the winner would pay the losers. That would have helped support the development of DotClub with funding as well. I think if I could have done it over again, and a lot of people in the industry, we’re all kicking ourselves, some of the portfolio applicants, like [inaudible 00:12:18] who did the 300 names, they’re going to come out very strong winners in this process. If I could have done it again, I would have went for more applications.
Oscar D.: Interesting. Your magical powers are about to expire, but let’s squeeze in one more question. Looking forward five years, how do you think the business climate will change and how will it affect DotClub?
Colin C.: I actually think … We had one of the worst recessions that we’ve seen in our lifetime. I think it will be in our lifetime the worst recession. When you have liquidity banking, that happens generally about once every hundred years. I think we’re not even mid-cycle here. The opportunity in the marketplace and obviously the low inflation rates. I really, truly believe that we’ve got a good four to five years before we see a light recession hit us as well. It’s looking pretty good.
Oscar D.: What one word describes Colin Campbell as an entrepreneur?
Colin C.: Passion.
Oscar D.: In your opinion, are entrepreneurs born or are they made?
Colin C.: I really believe it’s a combination. When you look at the profile of an entrepreneur, I don’t think I’ve ever met a successful entrepreneur who doesn’t have a dominant profile under the DISC profiling system and who’s dominant. A lot of them have a high influence sales ability as well. Myself, I’m actually a DC under the DISC profile, which is Dominant and Analytical. You see a number of entrepreneurs that have those characteristics as well. Fewer that have the DS, but majority of entrepreneurs, DI. Generally, you’re born … even at the age of 2 or 3, they’ve done profiling that show the personality traits of an individual. Then that’s combined with the environment, with their family and how you grow up and how you’re exposed to entrepreneurship, within the country. Take a country like Ukraine, for instance. There should be hundreds of thousands of more entrepreneurs, but they’ve just had such a hard go of it, the environment hasn’t been good for them. I think combine the two, personality traits with the environment … I think that’s what creates truly great entrepreneurs.
Oscar D.: Very interesting. How do you define success?
Colin C.: Successful for me is really about friendships. Success for me is about my family and seeing my children become successful at whatever they want to do in their life, whatever they love to do. I drive a Volt. For me, the material things don’t matter as much. Success for me is when you see twenty of my employees get so excited about launching DotClub and the passion and the differences that we are making in the world, whether it’s a school club or whether it’s a country club. It’s absolutely fascinating to see how many new DotClubs are launching. We track that every day. When I see that … I’ve teared up when I see some of the companies launching … just from small business entrepreneurs to people like Demo Lovato who have 30 million viewers on Facebook. It’s amazing to see. That’s success, changing the world.
Oscar D.: Fascinating. Who do you go to if you’re looking to brainstorm an idea, you’re looking to problem solve? Who’s your go-to person or your go-to group of individuals?
Colin C.: Forum. EO is an organization of entrepreneurs. It’s a club that I belong to. I’ve been with a group of about 8 people for 17 years. I’ve been in two forums. One in Toronto. When I moved down to Florida, I joined a forum in Florida. Honestly, these guys they vet everything I do in my business and every major business decision in my life in the last 17 years, my forum has helped me make that decision and given me a different perspective at times. Sometimes they’ve agreed with me, but they’ve been there for every one of those big decisions.
Oscar D.: That’s amazing. Final question. Let’s imagine for a moment tomorrow morning when you wake up, DotClub is no longer in existence. What would be the next venture that Colin Campbell approaches.
Colin C.: You know, DotClub, you do really get emotionally attached to companies. They almost do become like children, and the one thing that I’m looking at right now, and I’ve actually registered some DotClub domain names, so I’ll give it away right now a little bit. I really love the club concept. We’ve seen what Dollar Shave Club did. A company that I got involved with, Treat A Dog. I saw what they did in the last two or three months. I’ve seen what BarkBox did, what Trunk Club did. If you’re going to compete with Amazon today, you got to get innovative. Having a passionate customer base with a DotClub brand really helps you do that. I registered Vintages.club. I registered WineSeller.club. For me, I love the wine. I’m passionate about wine. I’m passionate about the whole club concept. If I could combine those two together, my next business would be something around selling a product through a club and the product I like the most is wine.
Oscar D.: Fantastic. Colin, it has been an absolutely honor and a privilege to have you in studio today. You inspire me. I’m trying to think, am I more inspired from your entrepreneurial intellect and acumen or am I more inspired by your passion. Either way, it’s been a privilege to have you in studio. I thank you so much, and I look forward to watching many more continued successes.
Colin C.: Thank you very much, Oscar. Thank you.