An interview with Neil Bostick the founder of Graen.com
Q1) Tell us why you created Graen.com Neil?
Good first question! I guess first and foremost I really wanted to make a private platform for investors to buy & sell high value domains as I thought that was what was missing from the current domain sales options.
Within that, I specifically wanted to scale the work that I do with my domain brokerage, QEIP.com, as I realize that by having a more automated platform I could get the inventory of a marketplace with the quality of a broker. I’ve been a buyer, a seller, and a broker in the super-premium domain aftermarket for many years and through that, I’ve gotten perspective on what each party wants and needs …and how the current market options just don’t cut it. Everyone knows there are like 50 domain marketplaces so why would I set out to create another one???
The answer is that none of them did the single most important thing that I wanted in a domain marketplace: be private and not publicly disclose offer and sale prices (and in general just be suited for high value domain sales). So I set out in August of 2020 to start building this platform based on this idea and from the feedback I got from dozens of top ‘domainers’, we launched our beta version over a year later in September of 2021.
Through that lens, I like to think I created the perfect platform with our launch, but in truth it is far from being finished as we are adding new features to it each week.
For those that don’t know the benefit of being a private marketplace, privacy is one of the biggest ‘defenses’ in high value domain investing as sale and offer prices will get used against you if they are made public. In this, a lot of brokers and marketplaces will disclose sale and offer prices to drive traffic and use for marketing but this is often at the detriment of the buyers and sellers behind the domain (as it makes it harder for them to sell in the future).
Trying to minimize exposure risk, many marketplaces and brokers try to solve this problem by listing a given domain but not price, but there are trust problems here because buyers get price gouged and often end up bidding against themselves when trying to figure out price. We flipped the model and showed domain qualities and price but not the domain itself – with this, we are able to keep buyers and sellers safe in a way that no other platform does.
For many top level domain investors knowing domain qualities gives 51%+ the knowledge they need for a purchase decision (especially when it is as targeted as what we show on our listing pages) so when they finally uncover the domain name behind the listing they can quickly access whether they want to close or not. 100% private domain marketplaces are what I believe to be the future of high value domain investing (and maybe domain investing in general) AND we are the first one.
Q2)You will no doubt get flooded with a lot of potential clients, what should they know about the quality of inventory that you will accept?
Short answer: we only list the top domains (yes really only the top – like 3 letter .COM, 1 word .COM, or better). Graen.com takes the best qualities of a domain marketplace and the best of a domain broker and puts it all in one exclusive platform – so we have the scale & technology of a marketplace while giving the experience & attention of a broker. With all of this, we can handle large quantities of domains but for the sake of differentiation (and our target buyers), we only accept super-premium domains like 2/3 letter and 1 word .COM.
Our aim is to have a maximum of 1000 domains on the platform at any time and of these we want only the best domains possible at their best prices possible – this is because we want the reputation for being the best marketplace for high value domains through having the highest sell-through rate of any marketplace or broker (so we only want to take in domains which there are a lot of buyers for). There may only be 50k-100k domains in existence that fit the qualifications of domains we can sell, so when we have 1k on the site, it won’t be a small market share (and we already are 5%+ there!).
Q3) What separates Graen.com from the other marketplaces out there, what if a customer wants to announce their sale? Are they bound to confidentiality when joining the site?
Absolutely everything differentiates us! It is all custom tailored to help get high value deals done without regard to how all other platforms function. Buyers and sellers are bound to confidentiality unless they mutually agree post-sale that they want the sale public.
Here are a list of features that differentiate the platform:
all listings are confidential and need to be uncovered individually (through buyer agreeing to listing ‘NDA’s),
all domains listed need to be approved by admin (to maintain quality),
proprietary algorithm for dual domain valuations (to get market pricing),
free escrow for all listings (with no risk of deals closing without buyer paying),
low tiered commission rates from 3-9% (with big discounts for brokers who want to list),
buyers and sellers can’t talk to each other (to save time negotiating), unique framework that gives ability to get 7 figure deals go from start to finish in 12 hours, no exclusivity for sellers (while still not allowing deals outside of platform),
vetting of all sellers (so that we know sellers own the domains in question), the site’s user management is really powerful and allows you to manage everything (from offers, sales, applications, appraisal history, support tickets, investor passes, scheduled calls, affiliate tracking, and more),
buyers identity and fund verification through high technology APIs (so that serious buyers are pre-approved to negotiate and see the best deals), and the list that differentiates us goes on and on.
Test out the platform and you will see. If we don’t have a key feature, request it and we will.
Q4) Customers are more concerned today than ever when it comes to their data. Does Graen.com have a thorough information security plan in place?
Definitely, the safety of the site reflects what I would want as a user if my data was at play (as it is!) – with that, we don’t take any key personal information as all important information we deal with goes through 100% secure APIs from established partners.
In this, we use WithPersona.com to verify users Identities via a pop-up where you take a picture of your face with your ID and it can instantly verify you.
Then we use Plaid.com for users to provide proof of funds (to uncover higher priced listings and get access to more deals). The way it works for Plaid.com is that you just login directly to your personal bank account on it via a pop up from Plaid.com and after you do so, we just get a number about the total assets in your account (nothing more). After that, we just have it internally listed that John Doe is approved for up to $XXX,XXX priced listings.
Even though we don’t store any key information (bank details, SSNs, credit cards, etc.), our site is encoded with AES-256 bit encryption so that all internal data can’t be accessed by outside parties. As we don’t host any key proprietary data ourselves (and our partners that do are multi-billion dollar tech-forward corporations), any users should not have a thread of doubt about our security. But if you do have any concerns, schedule a call via the website and we can explain more!
Q5) If I list my name at Graen.com can I have it listed at other marketplaces as well?
Yes! This is another way that our platform is different than any other platform – we have NDA’s on every listing (with a couple additional terms) which enable us to be the first platform with ‘buyer exclusivity’ as a differentiator.
To give some insight, seller exclusivity is important so that a given broker doesn’t run the risk of a buyer going to a seller directly. We flipped the model and made it so that instead of the seller agreeing to not sell anywhere else, we made the the platform so that the buyers agree that if they see a domain they like, they can’t try to buy it anywhere else.
This is a creative way to ensure people don’t try to ‘cut out’ the platform without requiring exclusivity from the seller.
Besides that, it also enables us to protect the seller by ensuring that the buyer doesn’t publicize any pricing in any way that hurts seller’s ability to offer it up to a future buyer at a higher price (if it doesn’t sell). If it does sell, the buyer can be confident knowing that the sale price won’t be public and they won’t have it used against them if they try to resell in future.
Thank you for your time Neil
Thank you Raymond
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