William Llewellyn is an entrepreneur with a development interest in domains. Through his company Vahlt, he works to acquire and manage key assets for build-out. William also holds business interests in other areas, including sports nutrition and compound testing. He is an accomplished scientist as well, credited with discovering that a particular dietary fatty acid plays a core role in human muscle growth. Though his interests and background are diverse, Internet investment and development have become his primary focus as of late. Several of William’s noteworthy assets include Answering.com, Thinkers.com, and AmsterdamCoffeeShops.com, as well as Inform.org, Anabolic.org, and ConcealedCarry.org.
Name: William Llewellyn
Company: Vahlt, LLC
Favorite Domain: Thinkers.com
Favorite Industry Conference: NamesCon
Favorite Industry Blog(s): DotWeekly.com and DSAD.com
Tell us a little bit about your background and your personal story.
My background isn’t traditional. I’ve worked as a scientist in the nutrition field, but am self-educated. I don’t hold any degrees. I have never done well with authority or structure, actually. I do tend to get deeply interested in one subject at a time though, often to the exclusion of other tasks. I can research obsessively on my own. My wife thinks I have a condition, but I haven’t really looked into it. Whatever it is, it seems to work O.K. for me. As a kid, I was really into computers. That led to a software piracy group and an arrest for phone service theft at the age of 16 (long story). Sounds odd, but it was the best thing I ever put on my resume. When I worked in technology, it actually landed me some nice gigs. I got into bodybuilding in my late teens though, and by 2000 had shifted careers. I was writing books, and together with my wife and business partner, launched my own supplement brand. We started the company to sell sports nutrition ingredients I had developed and patented. There are some accomplishments I’m very proud of here. Recent years I’ve been getting bored of the sports market though, and have started to shift interests again. I have some other business holdings now, but domain investing has become my latest obsession.
How did you get involved in the domain industry?
I started acquiring domains for my existing businesses. I always understood they were important for marketing, but somewhere along the way it clicked. The right domain name can literally make a business. Next time I was going to find the domain first, and build the business around it. That’s our strategy with Vahlt.
What is your current role?
I’d say my role is to spot opportunity. I seek out domain names that are prime for development, and match with our team’s interests and capabilities.
Why did you choose to support the ICA?
I think it is always a good idea to get involved in your industry. The ICA seems to me a great way to not only network and learn, but also support what we’re all doing here. The organization seems focused on looking out for investors like me, and protecting/growing the market for everyone.
Can you share a prediction about the future of the domain industry?
The market has a long way to go. The investment industry will mature, and the value of premium names (those with utility, anyway) will only increase as it does.
What do you like most about the domain industry?
The opportunity. This is still a new frontier. There are a ton of great names out there, sitting undeveloped. It is exciting to think of the countless new ideas and businesses that will spring fourth from them. I love being a part of this.
If you could change one thing about the domain industry what would it be?
Perhaps domain owners could be better protected. In particular, I’m concerned about the abusive use of UDRP to try and steal good generic names from owners. Domain theft and recovery are also areas of concern for me. I’d like to see some improvements here too.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges the domain industry is faced with?
Poor liquidity of domain names, and lack of sufficient institutional financing for investments.
What do you wish other people knew about the ICA?
Many of the ICA’s members are experienced successful investors, and highly influential in the industry. You can learn a lot here.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about joining the ICA?
Do it. This is a good organization, and they are here to support you.
What unexpected doors opened for you because of your involvement in the domain industry?
From a business development perspective, it has opened many doors. Acquire the right name, and you can launch a business with authority. Domain investment has enabled us to confidently build in new areas that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
What’s the best advice ever received (domain related or otherwise)?
Be patient. Domain investing is a buyers market. Wait for exceptional opportunities to come along, and be ready to move when they do.
What are your main interests outside of the domain industry?
These days, being a dad to an awesome little girl gets most of my non-working attention. I still find time to ski here and there though, and enjoy travel when I have the opportunity.
Favorite place to get away:
It is a tie. In the Rockies during the winter, preferably slope side. In the summer, it would be Amsterdam, my favorite European city.
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