I first met Anthony David when he sent me an email asking a few questions. Like almost emails I receive, I did a little background check on who was behind it and I have to admit I was immediately impressed. I saw a guy from Canada that spoke French, Chinese and taught school in Kuwait. A man that has built an international team of coders and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy. He even fixed a few problems on my site because he couldn’t stand to see errors on a site, any site. He did it for free and while he was in there cleaned things up a bit. I thought Anthony was a perfect guy to interview because he really has built everything he has from scratch and done it while living a generous life and seeing the world, all at a young age. He also is completely in touch with the Chinese market, a incredibly large market that has yet to be tapped by the rest of the world. Here is part one of the interview with the second part concentrating on the Chinese market.
Anthony, first of all thanks for doing the interview. I’ve always been a big fan of your development talents and the fact you speak many languages. Tell us a little about your background. Where are you originally from and where do you live now?
Hey Shane! First of all I want to say I love your blog and I think your writing style is the best of all the domain bloggers out there. I’m from Surrey, BC, which is near Vancouver. I was in a French Immersion school for 11 years so I was fluent in french at one point in my life. My french listening and speaking is poor now, though. After I graduated from university I was a full time teacher in Shanghai for two years. Then I exported toys and made websites for three years after that, also in Shanghai. I can read, type and speak Chinese now. I got tired of living in China so I came to Kuwait to teach second grade, which I’m enjoying a lot.
When did you first get into domaining and what was the initial draw?
When I started my own business exporting Montessori materials (educational equipment) in Shanghai I knew our company needed a website, and with that a domain. So I tried to register MontessoriMaterials.com because I’m uncreative like that. It was taken. I put a hyphen in the middle of the words, Montessori-Materials.com and it was available. I registered it. After that we build an ecommerce site on it and the traffic started to come in. Eventually I clued in the domain being an exact match was really helpful. Later on, I created another website to help us track the containers our shipments were in. I think the domain was Container-Tracking.com, and it had one page on it with a tool to track containers. That started to get some traffic, too. As things progressed I wanted to add more to that site, so I stopped using Container-Tracking.com and bought FreightForum.com from BuyDomains for around $800. It was the best investment I’ve ever made. Freight Forum now has almost 20,000 registered users and does around 13,000 pageviews from human visitors per day.
How many domains do you own and what would you say is your specialty or approach to domain purchases?
I own about 140 domains now. About half I planned to develop on and half to resell. I haven’t had much success in making sales though. I prefer to develop on good domains and create valuable web assets (domain + development). With a good domain and user-friendly development you have the best chance of getting the most valuable thing there is; traffic.
I know that you are a fantastic coder and developer (or you have a great staff), what are some of your past projects?
I’ve bought a number of programming books and read them when I have time, but I wouldn’t call myself a developer. I’m fluent in XHTML and have a good understanding of Classic ASP and PHP. I leave the development to my staff though, who are a million times more talented than I am. A lot of the projects I’ve done have been scrapped and are offline now. Some of those were a networking portal for manufacturers and suppliers, and an auction platform like Flippa.
Tell us a little about your current projects and some of the long term projects you envision yourself doing.
The main things I’m working on now are FreightForum.com, DNJuice.com, and DomainDaily.com. I’m going to start a new blog about building traffic soon, but I can’t reveal that domain just yet because I’m still in negotiations with the seller. My company’s website is at Winterwind.com and we offer web development services.
Other than domain investing and development, what are some of your personal hobbies?
I play rapid chess and tennis. I have regular poker nights with other teachers here, too. I run on the treadmill when I’m getting too fat. There’s not much free time.
If you could have dinner with any domain investor which one would you invite?
How about Domain Shane! I loved your post about your nursery and I think that is an amazing business than you run. I wonder if you like that for the same reasons I like teaching second grade. It’s nice to be out there in the real world and far away from computers sometimes.
Do you have any advice for new domain investors that will save them time, money or both?
Domain investors are smart. They understand the importance of owning good domains so I have no advice for them. My advice is to all the developers out there that are trying to be the next Facebook or Google. Stop investing thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands) and uncountable hours of your life developing on a domain that is worth $100. You’re only slowing down how fast you can build traffic and limiting the potential of your development efforts.
Finally, a question I like to ask everyone. If you could pick to have more money or more time, which would you choose?
I would choose money because killer domains and talented programmers are not cheap. But they are worth every penny.