Meet new iwantmynamer Andray

When Andray was too young to know better, he wanted to grow up to be a monk and train at the Shaolin monastery in Henan, China. While his mom may have wanted to send him away once or twice in his childhood, the farthest away he got was the wuxing kung fu school three blocks away. Since then, he’s trained in capoeira, tae kwon do, and his current favourite martial art, Muay Thai.

Andray with his family

Now that he’s all grown up with a family (including twins, which keep him on his toes more than training ever did), Andray spends most of his time writing, as well as playing Super Smash Brothers on Saturday nights with his fiancée. The parenting moment he’s looking forward to the most, however, is when his daughters are old enough for him to take them to the neighbourhood kung fu school and sign them up for lessons.

Kia Ora from Canada

I’ve received a few job offers in my life, but none of them had ever been followed up with, “So, when can you come to New Zealand?” It sweetened the deal that I could catch the tail end of New Zealand summer after one of the most horrendous Ontario winters in memory.

photo of Wellington, New Zealand photo of Wellington, New Zealand by Melanie Baker

Turns out that was just the first of many welcome changes that came with working for iwantmyname. By the time I returned to Canada I was in love with New Zealand, with Wellington, and with the kind of company and coworkers I’d been looking for (or trying to build) for most of my career.

I’ve weathered a few boom and bust cycles in the tech industry, and I’ve worked for household name corporations and startups where we worked at folding tables and you could count all the staff on one hand.

Over time you get a really good sense of what works for you (me: autonomy, innovation, fingers in lots of pies…) and what doesn’t (me: grey cube farms, endless levels of bureaucracy, Lotus Notes…)

I recall Lenz and I getting a bit off-track in one of my interviews reminiscing about the foibles of startup life, and knowing that yeah, these folks get it. (I also learned that a blog post about a local brewery served as one of my references…)

I remember asking questions of one of the guys in the office, who didn’t have answers, because he was almost as new as I was. And now, just shy of five years in, I’m the old codger answering questions from the newbs.

photo inside the former iwantmyname headquarters in Wellington, NZ photo inside the former iwantmyname headquarters in Wellington, NZ

For us inveterate techies, the greatest working joy is to be able to build things, or make them better. I’ve gotten to do that consistently since I started.

I didn’t come to iwantmyname from the domains industry, but I’ve learned what the broader industry is often like, and have come to greatly appreciate why our founders wanted to do things differently. As we humans online become ever more data points and revenue opportunities thanks to social platforms and advancing tech, I appreciate it even more.

I’ve experienced the eureka moment of feeling competent regarding to the broader DNS ecosystem… and then realizing after another year that I was such a clueless (yet confident) newb the year before.

I’ve also used that hard-won knowledge to train everyone on support who’s been hired after me, which is satisfying. I’ve become comfortable being the The Adult in situations that need one, which is invaluable. (Though on occasion still comes as a bit of a surprise.) Happily, I also have the luxury of having total faith in the abilities of the rest of the support team.

I’ve learned plenty about hiring, that I have no problem working from home, that 15+ hour flights aren’t that bad, and that good folks will understand and pick up the slack when your cat dies. I’ve learned that there will always be messy aspects when building a business with a bunch of misfits, but that it’s never the end of the world.

I’ve learned tonnes about how people tick and how business works in various places around the world. I think it’s especially important for us North Americans to learn that not everyone’s like us, or wants to be, and that everyone knows useful things that you don’t (yet).

And I’ve learned how important it is continue to give back to those who helped you get where you are, and who will help you get where you want to be. So even as we grow globally — thanks, Wellington techies and customers! Imagine what could be if every tech scene had folks as passionate, fun, and helpful as you.

In the past, planning for a company’s future has typically been above my pay grade. Not so here. I appreciate being part of the company’s first ten years, and, along with sharing info from our customers, helping to build the next ten.

Domain for a last minute gift? Of course!

While giving a domain as a gift seems about as exciting as giving a package of paper as a gift, a domain can actually be a truly thoughtful gift for just about anyone on your gift list. I’ve listed just a few ideas below, but one thing I’ve learned over the last few years working in the domain industry is that buying a domain is a stepping stone to reaching a goal, realizing a dream or starting a new resolution.

Buy a domain as a gift

For the Bride or Groom to be

December is a popular engagement month and we see a lot of wedding and engagement domain registrations. Our own MJ registered joshandmj.com a few years ago when she was getting married. Getting a .com domain is always a great idea but we also have .wedding as a unique option.

For the Family

Considering a family website or even just a family email address? You can always try to get your last name in a .com form but you can also register .family, .email, .club, .blog, .team, .online and many other options. You can also get descriptive with your family name domain, while the domain smith.com or jones.family aren’t available you could try thesmithsofwellington.com or singingjones.family or smithjones.club

For the New Years Resolution-er or the New Entrepreneur

With the new year approaching we are seeing a lot of new registrations of .shop, .store, .photography and other entrepreneurial domains.

Paul from iwantmyname has a New Zealand based project creativeforest.nz which he’s set up to redirect to creativeforest.info.

Is 2019 the year your loved one is thinking of launching a new venture? One of my 2019 resolutions is to launch my own hand dyed yarn shop. I’m working on a Shopify store, which I’m still getting set up, Sea Witch Yarn. I also bought theyarn.shop which redirects to Sea Witch Yarn. Suggested domains could end in .com, .co, .shop, .store for a store setup. Other options, depending on the type of new venture, could be .blog, .consulting, .coach, .cafe, .restaurant, .design, .cleaning, and hundreds more which you can check out here.

For the Graduate or the Job Seeker

Whether the domain is for a website, portfolio, blog, or redirecting to another URL we recommend having your own domain as a job hunter. It doesn’t look professional when you use your old hotmail, gmail, or yahoo email address so keep that in mind as well. In my case I have merlenepaynter.me and merlenepaynter.info which are both set up to redirect to my LinkedIN profile. (Not that I’m job hunting! I’m very happy to work at iwantmyname.com!)

For the Creative

Some of my favourite domain extensions are for the creative types with .band, .rocks, .art, .photo, .photography, .photos, .pics, .pictures, .gallery, .design, .ink, .pub, .press, .actor

For the Pet Lover

A favourite topic for our team! MJ has a new pup Zeppelin.dog with a website for him. I have a 1 year old dog Ziggy.dog which redirects to an Instagram account. You can register .dog, .pet and .fish with us. Unfortunately we don’t register .cat or .bird but you can register .love and isn’t that the same thing?

For the Special Event

Birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc? We think .party is perfect, but there’s also .charity, .buzz, and .fun.

For Other Interests

I wasn’t kidding at the beginning of this post when I said there’s a domain for just about anyone. With hundreds of domain types beyond the usual .com and .net available the sky is the limit, and speaking of sky one of our team has the fun kittyfromouter.space

Just a few more ideas:

.cooking, .recipes, .beer, .fan, .fun, .,lol, .coffee, .hockey, .bingo, .bike, .football, .racing, .soccer, .wine, and .cool.

You can explore all of our hundreds of domain options and domain pricing here.

Coming up in January, I’ll be starting a series of posts with ways to use your domain and how to get your New Years Resolutions on track. Have any questions or suggestions for the January New Years Resolutions series or other blog post ideas? Please send them to hi@iwantmyname.com!

10 Years and celebrating small business

We shouldn’t have made it to 10 years. At least, that ’s what the statistics say about startups because most of them fail in their first few years. But here we are and it’s been quite a ride.

Founders Lenz, Timo and Paul early 2008 before launching iwantmyname Founders Lenz, Timo and Paul early 2008 before launching iwantmyname

In the last couple years, I’ve pondered a lot about what success means for iwantmyname. We never set out to become the next GoDaddy, but it’s simply intoxicating to see a company grow. However, everything comes at a price and for me that was burnout. The very thing I thought would never happen to me because, after all, I live in New Zealand, which in my mind meant my work-life balance was sorted automagically. Turns out I was wrong.

Enough

While I recovered from burnout, I read a post from Basecamp simply titled ”Enough,” and that’s when it hit me. What we do at iwantmyname is enough. We’re big enough, grow enough, and are profitable enough. But that’s not to say we’re done. In fact, our team just launched a new site design which lays the foundation for a new direction of the company. Will that elevate us to become a giant in our industry? Heck no, but it is enough to be a small business focusing on a particular niche.

Hail the maintainers

Another idea that helped me to accept and understand who we are as a company is the one of being maintainers. If you are not familiar with the concept, I recommend reading Hail the maintainers which explains why maintenance matters more than innovation. As a domain name registrar, we help maintaining a small part of internet infrastructure. There will be innovations how we navigate the internet, but the underlying bits and pieces will stay the same for many years to come and we want to help customers as much as we possibly can with maintaining their web presence.

A reminder that small is beautiful

Over the last few weeks, I helped my wife to set up a small online shop selling local products. Everyone talks about the importance of being global in the startup world, but going the opposite way and keeping it local was a profound experience and a timely reminder before our 10-year anniversary that it is all about helping small businesses and individuals succeed.

So let’s celebrate enough. Let’s celebrate the maintainers. And let’s celebrate all the small businesses that make a difference to local communities and let people make a living.

Happy 10th birthday iwantmyname!

Charity Begins At Work

As I explained recently, iwantmyname has just completed a decade in business. Like most tech companies, we had our ups and downs. But one thing we never lost sight of was that we wanted to do social good, once the company was in a position to help others.

Clean Water

Our initial strategy simply involved showing up to tech meet ups and hackathons around town and volunteering our time to help out. I was a mentor at the very first Startup Weekend ever held in New Zealand and have helped organise many events since then. Our co-founder Lenz has been a facilitator at Startup Weekends for a few years now and has become somewhat of a startup midwife, helping to give birth to a bunch of new ventures. We also provided funding to get Startup Weekends launched in Bali.

Eventually we were in a position to provide sponsorships more widely. So we started thinking about how we could help support social enterprises around the world that aligned with our values. This led us to declare that we would set aside 10 cents from every domain registration and renewal annually. That figure added up over the years, I’m pleased to say.

One of the areas we have been especially active in involves supporting charities assisting with tropical cyclone disaster recovery in the Pacific Ocean region. With the impact of climate change, there seems no let up in storm disasters and often it is children that are impacted the most. We have also placed a heavy focus on projects involving water sanitation and security, because access to clean water is one of the most basic human rights. This led us to support some amazing water projects in Bali as well as in Vanuatu.

We were most interested to receive news from our friends at UNICEF recently about progress with the upgrading of water and sanitation across schools in Vanuatu, an initiative we backed in 2017. As the programme was about to get underway, there was a huge volcanic eruption forcing the entire population of the island of Ambae to be relocated. Suddenly the more immediate problem for UNICEF aid workers became how to address water and sanitation for displaced people now living in tent villages on neighbouring islands. Fortunately considerable progress has been made with improving the water infrastructure. Now a health education programme is underway to ingrain good hygiene habits and reduce the incidence of communicable diseases.

Sometimes other important opportunities randomly crossed our path. For example we’ve assisted with funding Orca research after our team visit to Vancouver Island and this month we backed a campaign to support an individual in need of assistance after a shocking accident that led to a burn injury. There was also the workshop aimed at lifting skill levels among Bangladeshi women developers to help them secure better incomes.

In case you think this is about blowing our trumpet - yes it is! But let me explain why. At iwantmyname we firmly believe corporations of all shapes and sizes have a responsibility to their shareholders and employees to do good in the world. Although we are not a huge company, we like to think that in some small way, we set an example for others to follow.

Photo credit: UNICEF New Zealand

10 years of changing the industry

iwantmyname founders Lenz, Paul & Timo

When we started iwantmyname 10 years ago we sat down and defined an impact statement first. It is still up on our about page under the “domain ethics” heading.

We launched into an industry that was focussed on the customer in a value extracting mode, monetizing every aspect of a customer as effectively as possible. We added a product that had a value adding mindset to that industry, we did not see competition but an opportunity to help customers be more effective.

We started with an impact statement and optimized for impact rather than shareholder value or market share. This fundamental difference in focus made it possible to set us apart from the rest of the industry and made us successful enough to build a sustainable business.

We could have stopped there but we were interested in the long term impact and looking back we did have a significant impact on our industry. As an industry we moved towards a more customer centric view and help customers achieve their goals rather than just clip the ticket and hold more tickets in front of them.

With our impact view we also defined the startup community in New Zealand as one of our focus points and helped shape a very successful community here. Further to that we picked other impact areas like clean water in Bali and decided to set aside a part of every domain registration for those secondary impact goals.

After 10 years of focussing on adding value we made it to a point where not only our industry is aware of what we do and follows but also our customers have gained as the industry shifts. I have thought a lot about abundance mentality recently and looking back am happy to report that it actually works.