Hello, my name is Ryan, and I’m addicted to domain names.
It started innocently enough. I had a silly idea for a startup. Obviously, I had to come up with a clever name, and a clever name that wasn’t already taken. When I found that SillyIdeaforaStartup.com was available, obviously I had to buy it and hold onto it until I had some free time to actually build it.
But then I had another idea. And another. And every idea needed a domain name. And finding a domain name that fit? It was like winning the lottery. It was like hitting the jackpot. I kept coming up with idea after idea, and registering domain name after domain name. I’d ask, “How was that name not taken?” I’d say, “This name could totally be the next Google.”
It felt good. At first.
Domain name hoarding is like gambling, in many ways. You spend a little bit here, a little bit there, each domain name tied to a different hope and a different dream, each one a possible ticket to fame, fortune, an exit event. But in the end, even if you’re lucky and talented and committed enough to have built one or two things? You also have a laundry list of unbuilt ideas, a pile of neglected domain dependents that you pay to renew every year. Just in case.
There is hope, however. I know I’m not alone. I’ve been to meetings. I’ve met people. Lots of people, actually, just like me. Fellow geeks with big dreams, funny ideas, and a long stream of clever, catchy, totally brandable domain names in our closets. We don’t need to sneak off to pay our domain registrars every year. We don’t have to count our dot-coms (and dot-cos and dot-ios) in shame.
We can bring our domain names out into the light. We can share our ideas, and sure, we might laugh at how ridiculous they are… but maybe we might rediscover how brilliant they are. And when we get together, great things can happen. Because if there’s something that’s worth building, we don’t have to build it alone.
This ideal, this place of geek addiction amnesty, is finally real. The hackers at HiCapacity have put out the call for the first, and surely not last, Domain Night. (I mean, they got the great domain name DomainNight.com. There has to be more than one.) It’s effectively a support group for domain name hoarders.
Or collectors, rather.
Here’s how it works. Along with your free registration, you can submit up to four domain names that you’d like to share. When everyone finally comes together, after a short introductory talk about domain names, everyone will have a chance to quickly introduce a domain they own, and pitch the idea that went with it.
If your name strikes a chord with someone else, if your inspiration complements that of another attendee, who knows? You may have the beginnings of growing your name and idea into something real.
Of course, not every domain name presented needs to be weighed as a practical project. You could just as easily share a horrible name you regret registering, and in addition to getting some laughs, you might very well find a better home for it.
Domain Night seems like the natural real-world incarnation of NameHUB, which was one of the winning ideas at Startup Weekend Honolulu in 2014. NameHub was an online network that helped you brows the domain names owned by your Facebook or Google contacts and set up a sale, trade, or collaboration. Even back then I wrote, “As a domain name hoarder, this was my favorite.”
But talking about our addiction in person, I think, is a far more effective way to make connections and inspire the kind of energy and creativity that domain collectors envision every time they buy a new name.
Domain Night will be held on Monday, April 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Box Jelly in Kakaako (307 Kamani Street). To ensure your domain name is in the mix, be sure to register online, then send in up to four domain names and one image to firstname.lastname@example.org by the day before.
Want to know more about Domain Night? Nicole Hori of HiCapacity joined us on the air on “Bytemarks Cafe” tonight to talk about it. She also shared an example of a domain name and startup idea that she’d like to present on Monday (while Burt and I confess a couple of bad domain name ideas).