In addition to offering seed capital and mentorship to
the development teams they select to work with, World Accelerator offers teams the
rare opportunity to build a thriving business on the foundation of a
world class domain name with access to a readily identifiable constituency of customers. Names such as
alumni.com, comic.com, diploma.com,
fight.com, fact.com, FAQ.com and Japan.com are just a few examples of the brands available via the accelerator.
Millin noted that in real estate, billions
of dollars have been paid for premium locations,
adding "Online, your location is your domain name and a premier address can make the difference in giving you the
credibility you need to open doors, improve conversions, improve retention and accelerate your business."
Details on the criteria the company will use to select
developers and the application rules can be found on
their initial online
site notes that the development team can build
on a WA domain under a license. One of the first
questions most developers would have is whether or not
the development team can acquire an equity interest in
the domain name itself? Millin told us, "Yes
- the entrepreneur is doing a tremendous amount of work
and it is important that the structure provides equity
interest and upside. I have built a few companies myself
and know the effort that it takes to “will” these
businesses into existence. Our program is designed from
the ground up to ensure great alignment between the
accelerator and the terrific development teams. It is crucial
for success that the structure allows the
development teams to have control and ownership over
the brands that they will be developing."
of the brands that World
Media Group development teams
have already turned into rapidly
growing online businesses.
selected to participate in the accelerator the use of the brand
takes on the form of a very attractive license to allow the
entrepreneur time to use and build into the brand without
burdening their growth," Millin said. "The brand is an enabler
and will further help them accelerate their plans. As they
build their business the entrepreneur or team can acquire the
brand at a capped price in the future or some other payout
structure. This is set upfront which means as they prove
successful and if they exceed their plans they get the upside for
all their efforts."
capital contribution made by World Accelerator and for the use of
the brand, World Accelerator gets ownership in the venture as a typical
investor. The whole program allows for the right alignment
where the entrepreneurs can enjoy the fruits of their hard work
and all parties benefit from the use of the brand. The
domain is also protected in the license and if plans are not
achieved can be reclaimed. Over the last 5 years we
have done a dozen deals so we have some very good experience and
metrics about what works and what does not work in the
structure. That has really helped us prepare for the launch of the
Accelerator program," Millin said.
I also asked
Millin if he could provide more details on the qualifications
program applicants will have to have to be accepted into the
program. He said, "At the highest level the recipe for
success includes mixing in a Great Team + Great Idea + Strong
Plan + Right Brand. When all those align the business can
launch with rocket fuel. The vetting process has several levels.
First we review initial
submissions which can come in from many sources - the web, our
mentors, our market participants and several others that we are
innovating on. I can’t give away everything, but one example
that you will see at some point later in the upcoming year for
instance is a university competition on a brand."
"From that the group of
submissions, a few stars will be invited into the formal
application which is more comprehensive including a plan
submission and in-person (or video conference) interviews.
As I mentioned, we have executed a dozen deals over the last 5
years. We have used those to model and refine our deeper
application process for invited participants," Millin added.
that is a bit on the process," Millin continued.
"As far as what we look for to help any teams that
read your post, I am happy to elaborate. It may be
different than what you expect. The point of an
Accelerator is we can provide the broader experience,
network and guidance that comes from a proven track
record. So while that is something we would value it
is not a requirement. Important for our Great Teams
is having focus, conviction, work-ethic, knowledge of
their market and competitors and agile development. Our
teams must be able to deploy value rapidly to take
advantage of the growth they can see from the great brand."
Great Idea includes the size of the market and what
is disruptive about the team’s plan or what is
the unique value proposition. For a Strong Plan we look to
understand their go to market and growth strategy and
revenue and margin models. We would even go as deep as
working with them to understand their KPI’s (Key
Performance Indicators) that they will be targeting.
Finally, of course the clincher is in making sure all
these elements can leverage and benefit from one of the
World Accelerator brands.
several World Media Group brands already developed or in
various stages of development, including
Lawyer.com, Doctor.com and Paris.com, I asked Millin how
long those been in development and what kind of results he
has seen toward profitability and meeting the comppany's
long term goals for those brands.
have been working over the last five years on
launching domains into businesses with many great
teams. They launched over time so the average age is
closer to 2.5 years," Millin said.
"We have a dozen companies launched and teams
all over the world - to be exact we have companies
headquartered in seven different countries
and three different continents. So our reach is
clearly global. The sites we have launched have
grown from low traffic to now doing over 20
million visitors a month. So we are very pleased
with seeing how adding a powerful brand to a great
team can really accelerate the growth. We are also
focused on revenue and profitability from the very
start so all our businesses have revenue from day
one and most are cash flow positive. Some revenue
comes from paying customers and other revenue comes
from targeted advertising."
Accelerator is an interesting approach to a problem that
many owners of top tier domain portfolios have faced over
the years – how to maximize the potential of more
category defining domains than any one person or small
group could hope to do alone. A lot of different
approaches have been tried by others with varying degrees
of success. I asked Millin what led him to the accelerator
strategy World Media Group has adopted.
"So many things have come together which led me to
launch the Accelerator,"
Millin said. "The core driver that excites me is that
over the last ten years I have seen the cost and time to
deploy a business and technology massively compress.
This is also one reason you are seeing so many new
start-ups. Also the shift in the economy over the last
4 years means more very talented people are not finding
roles or growth in big companies and are instead finding
ideas themselves to launch. The one item, however,
that has not compressed is the time is takes to build your
credibility and brand. As a domain owner of premium
domains along with your many readers, we are cumulatively
sitting on millions of brands that have not yet been
developed. The accelerator leverages this phenomenon
by uncovering, structuring and nurturing the connection
between these great brands and great teams."
the personal side, to launch a successful
Accelerator one needs to understand the world from
both the capital (VC and Public) viewpoint and the
entrepreneur’s viewpoint," Millin said.
"I am fortunate that I have had the opportunity
to be a Venture Capitalist and work on Wall Street
as well as to be a serial entrepreneur. Not
following the norm, I started my career with my
first job out of college as a venture capitalist
where my firm funded great companies like Gymboree
and Samuel Adams Beer. I then left VC to
become an entrepreneur and co-founded Mail.com
in 1995 which I later took public on the NASDAQ in
1999 and helped grow to over 1,400 employees."
second company I joined as President when they had 4
people and helped them grow
60 people and led a successful sale to a public
company. I have been able to draw on these
experiences as well as the experiences launching the
dozen sites at our domains over the last five years
to put in place the World Accelerator platform. I am
very excited about where this platform can
evolve to over time. While World Accelerator has
great brands already that can benefit from the
platform and more that can be added, I am open in
the future to also looking at how I can add other
colleagues with great domains into the platform to
have an even bigger impact on the domain market
place and businesses that can be developed,"