As an entrepreneur you constantly have to evaluate risk and you just never know how some things will turn out. All you can do is be informed and follow your gut, shaping the odds in your favour in best way you can. This is the story of how ShapingTheOdds founder André Eidskrem turned less than $5K into more than $1M by doing exactly that, shaping the odds in his favour, with the sale of by.com
Who would have thought at the start of the dot.com era that some domains would be worth as much as they are today? Maybe futurists saw the success of domains twinkling in the distance, but most of us never thought it.
One person who did foresee a bright future for domains is Norwegian-born, serial entrepreneur André Eidskrem. Over the years André has selected and "invested" in quite a few domains, some of which he has developed including USA.Vacations, ShapingTheOdds.com and NorwegianSalmon.com, all in the belief that certain domains in particular would become increasingly valuable.
Back in 1996 mobile tech aficionado André paid almost $5.000 for the domain by.com motivated by the fact that ‘by’ means ‘city’ in Norwegian and with the intention of creating a platform to serve the Norwegian market with a GEO-based search with a news and tourism focus.
“Part of my strategy with domains was to really take the ‘eagle’s viewpoint’ and see the bigger picture whilst not forgetting the detail. I saw a time when certain domains could be worth a great deal and I knew instinctively that by.com was one of those.”
Some years later he founded intraHouse, a mobile software solutions provider that today has a presence in Norway, Silicon Valley, Spain, the UK, the Benelux, Asia, and Belarus, providing 24/7 services to global giant Cisco and many SMEs.
“BY is the ISO code for Belarus, where I also have a company, so I saw potential there too," says André.
As did other successful companies and it wasn’t long before large Eastern European oil companies looking for subdomains approached André to get involved.
“I let the oil companies use subdomains of by.com for a while and many years later at intraHouse we used the domain to develop various important projects including some of our newest technology, OneMobileTool, which is a content management system for apps.”
Despite having predicted the growth in value for the domain by.com, even André didn’t quite expect the interest that would come from the Chinese market and over the years André has received dozens of offers for the domain from all over the world.
“Some of those offers were tempting, but even when I was struggling to finance my startups, I felt it just wasn’t the right time to sell, although it was always my intention to do so. I’ve kept an eye on the Chinese market in particular and studied the cycles of growth and crashes.”
André’s story is the classic entrepreneur’s tale, one of making it all, losing it all and then making a strong comeback.
“Even during the most difficult times I knew it wasn’t the right time to sell and that the market still had a way to go,” he says. “Luckily, after we lost everything due to a client going bust, we were quickly able to turn things around in our favour again and intraHouse enjoys great success since.”
The decision to sell by.com has come at a time when André is ready to take his various projects to the next level.
“I decided to sell in January this year because we’re at a stage now with intraHouse where after a couple of years of fast growth we’re ready to invest further and launch some super technology, namely OneMobileTool and City.Live.
“Also, I want to invest more in ShapingTheOdds. I created ShapingTheOdds to provide a ‘safe’ meeting place for entrepreneurs around the world to come together to network and share. Many people feel Facebook is still more for family and friends and that it can be difficult to approach unknown people on LinkedIn.
“ShapingTheOdds bridges that gap, as it’s understood that by joining the community you’re willing to be approached and share what you can. ShapingTheOdds has some cool features in the pipeline including a section for mentors to offer mentorship and courses, and a shop where we can buy services from each other. There’s much more planned for the future. I hope everyone related to startups will sign up there and reach out to me and the great ShapingtheOdds team!
“We have learned many entrepreneur stories during these years, and now we want to share our experience and help those who try to start up for themselves too.
“We come across many great startups but find many have difficulty marketing, communicating and selling their product or service. We want to help those companies be successful by offering them a consultancy service.”
Originally auctioned at the NamesCon conference in Las Vegas in January this year, a story that attracted a lot of attention in the Norwegian media, by.com fetched $900.000 but André decided not to sell saying he knew it was worth more.
“I didn’t want to sell at that price, as I knew it was worth more. The problem at that time was with the Chinese stock market crashing. I didn’t know when things would recover but I was certain they would,” explains André.
The intraHouse Spain team created a web based solution to track and follow up on all the email requests coming from China, causing the potential buyers to raise their bids.
And he was right to wait, as by just waiting some months by.com fetched more than $1M in a sale this month with a Chinese domain investor.
“The buyer wishes to remain confidential and for the exact amount of the sale not to be disclosed. That’s not uncommon with a transaction of this value, especially if they plan to flip. I imagine the buyer has great plans for by.com.
“I hope to meet him some day too, even though he does not speak English, and I do not speak Chinese. But I’m sure whoever he is, he probably has lots of personal experiences that could be presented through #ShapingtheOdds.”
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