Mike Mann’s Story
I am the founder and CEO of DomainMarket.com.
I was born in Washington DC during a blizzard. When I was a kid, I had a lot of traumatic events around me. I got in a lot of trouble and paid a high price in many respects. By the time I was 15 I was kicked out of school and my home. I was practically the least likely to succeed.
I decided to hitch hike around the country which turned out to be very dangerous. Then oftentimes I’d follow around the Grateful Dead band, dancing the nights away with older hippies; usually sleeping in VW vans, by the beach, in the woods with bears, or with a bunch of people in cheap motel rooms. I was adept at jumping barbed wire fences, breaking past and bribing security guards, and forging tickets to get in to sold out shows that I couldn’t afford anyhow. Half the people around me were really nice, smart and helpful, but the other half were bad news.
On my downtime I started picking up books to carry in my backpack, mostly from a hippie store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, CA. I was focused on how to make money, politics, and Zen philosophy, which is heavily weighted on peace and charitable works.
I also played drums and other percussion with my friends and in small time garage bands.
Eventually I went to Santa Barbara City College (AKA Surfer Tech) where I got an AA in Business Management. By the time I graduated a friend and I had already started a messenger service back in Washington, DC, delivering packages for the political class, mostly by motorcycle and bicycle, which is very difficult and dangerous work.
On the side I took up my own form of lobbying, taking my motorcycle to hand deliver letters I wrote about hunger in Africa, environmental issues, nuclear arms, peace and other hot topics to the offices of every single senator and congressperson in DC to encourage them to take important actions. The very first thing I learned on my home PC was a mail merge program to push out professional letters to politicians.
I also did lots of volunteer work in the inner city at homeless centers, with disadvantaged youth, environmental groups, and with successful college students in cooperation with the University of Maryland Business School (Change the World program, which I founded); I was also the first Chairman of ByteBack, which is a charity that opened many computer training centers for inner city residents; and still operates successfully to this day.
Eventually delivering packages the hard way was less interesting than this new idea I had been reading about, The Internet, which could deliver packages and messages electronically; so, I decided I was an internet entrepreneur, and hired a bunch of smart young technical people to help (a strategy I still follow). My stepbrother and I founded Internet Interstate, connecting law firms and small businesses in DC to the first version of the Internet. This company was ultimately sold to a VC funded conglomerate called Verio. At that point I was barely a millionaire and I planned on living on 5% interest the rest of my life, while back to hands on charity work.
But ultimately, I was convinced by a venture capitalist that I was more suited to business life, making money, and then serving charity from a wealthier more leveraged position. He said I wouldn’t be able to live well and serve others without more money.
Off I went with a handful of domain names. One was Menus.com, which I sold for $25,000 (now worth over $1M). So, at that point I decided I was a domain name entrepreneur, and hired some of the same people to help me buy and sell more domains, and patent a product I invented called NameFind (the very first name-spinner app which has now been copied and used by virtually every domain registration company for hundreds of millions of domain registrations). Our company was called BuyDomains and we eventually sold out to venture capitalists in Boston, while owning around 500,000 premium domains.
Then I went on to start lots of companies (and charities) using premium domain names like Software(.com), Phone(.com), Grassroots(.org), Skateboards(.com), Snowboards(.com), Surfboards(.com), and SEO(.com), among many others. Most of them were eventually sold or merged with other companies. I am also infamous for setting a world record price selling S_x.com.
Three of my companies were in the INC 500 list of fastest growing small companies at the same time, probably setting an INC 500 record. And I have donated millions of dollars to worthy charities.
I also wrote a book about what I have learned in social entrepreneurism called Make Millions and Make Change; at Amazon and by free download at MakeMillions.com.
Eventually I went back in the domain name business founding this company DomainMarket.com which owns over 200,000 super premium domain names. My charity fund Make Change Trust (MakeChange.com) helps support many important charities, and I have donated thousands of hours helping charities. You can read more about my companies, charities, book, and success stories at MikeMann.com. There are also innumerable video interviews and articles I have done online.
I still like to play drums, see live music, hang out at beaches and forests and go jetskiing when I can find free time.
I still own a very successful company with others called Phone.com which employs over 100 people; and I just recently sold SEO(.com) which once employed over 100 people. Now I am practically the most likely to succeed.