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March 25, 2014

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Broken Field Run: How Domain Investor/Developer Chad Folkening Went from Mowing Lawns to Buying Mansions

By Ron Jackson 

Broken Field Run (noun) - A long run by a ball carrier who suddenly and frequently changes direction to successfully break through widely scattered opposition on a football field.

Chad Folkening's picture should be by that term in the dictionary. As an entrepreneur, the former football player has had to continually change directions to get around obstacles in life. A series of untimely events broke his body, derailed a business and, in the most unbearable one of all, claimed the life of a 25-year-old brother. Yet Folkening has managed to come through it all, learn from experience and emerge stronger than ever as a leading player in the domain investment and website development world. 

For several years now I've thought that Folkening might be the best kept secret in the domain industry. Don't get me wrong. Certainly a lot of people in this business know the friendly Midwesterner and he has been one of the biggest players in the space since the mid 90s. However, the self effacing Indiana native, who was a two-time All-State football player at Westfield High School near Indianapolis, has never been one to talk a lot about himself or his business success. As a result, you haven't seen his name in industry headlines nearly as often as some of his famous contemporaries. 



Chad Folkening
Founder, eCorp.com
Co-Founder, Domain Holdings LLC

It's time for that to change and the fact is Folkening has his hands in so many timely enterprises these days that the spotlight was going to find him anyhow - no matter how much he might prefer to let someone else be the center of attention. 

Folkening has just co-founded a new domain development and monetization company, Domain Holdings, LLC with web heayweights John Ferber (the man who build and sold Advertising.com to American Online) and Erik Simons (their bios are all available here). Folkening has also rolled out an award winning large scale domain development platform in RapidDomainBuilder.com and he has been instrumental in getting high level political figures to take an interest in protecting the rights of domain investors.

Domain Holdings LLC Co-Founders John Ferber (left) and Chad Folkening (right) get a lot of
love from legendary domain investor Frank Schilling at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami (October 2010). 
(Photo courtesy of Barbara Neu)

It was Folkening who facilitated the first appearance ever by a U.S. Congressman at a domain industry conference - that being U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns (R - Florida) who spoke at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami on Oct. 18, 2010 (along with former Congressman Mike Ferguson). In addition, at press time just before the 2010 mid-term elections, Folkening's long time friend and former attorney, Todd Rokita, currently Indiana's Secretary of State, was expected to win his own seat in the U.S. Congress (Rokita has been running 10 percentage points ahead of his opponent in recent polls). 

Like many of those who have found great success in this business, Folkening was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug at a very early age. Not long after he was born in the early 70s as the youngest of three brothers, Chad learned from his parents that if he wanted something he would have to earn it. His dad was a preacher who made due on a limited budget and made sure his kids understood the value of a dollar. 

The Folkening Brothers: (Left to Right) Brett, Heath and Chad

"My parents taught me to be respectful and work hard in order to earn what I wanted," Folkening said. "I think having that kind of stable foundation and family structure helped me to find and rely on my own abilities. My parents provided me with the basics in life - a roof over my head, food and love. They wisely made me earn the other things I wanted. A friend got a dirt bike motorcycle for Christmas, which made me want one too. My parents didn't support that idea, but let me know that I could have one if I earned it on my own."

"My parents were extremely frugal with money. As they grew older that allowed them both to become hobby real estate buyers, which would influence me in the later years as well. Most preachers are not hobby gun collectors or guys who fly airplanes on the weekends either, so there was a balance there. My mom was the sports enthusiast and athlete in the family and a stay home mom with a knack for interior design," Folkening said. Chad must have picked up some of her athletic genes as he went on to star at linebacker and tailback in high school, rushing for over 1,200 yards in his senior year at Westfield. "Athletics taught me leadership, team work and that individual ability can change a team's dynamics."

Folkening speaking at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami
(October 2010)

Folkening also recalled stepping out of his comfort zone in high school, something that wound up helping him excel in his current business. "I took a Greek and Latin derivatives class during my study hall. My weakest point was writing and language but a kindly teacher was gracious enough to take her lunch period and my study hall to teach me the class," Folkening said. He would later learn that his father was counseling this teacher through her own life challenges on weekends at his church. so helping Chad master a difficult subject may have been her way of repaying the family. "I learned to step up to a challenge and face my own fears and ultimately learned a lot about language, it’s influence and writing structures, which in turn helped me later if life, in buying domains," Folkening said.

Folkening remembers getting serious about business when he was just 14 years old. "I asked my parents to let me “borrow” their lawnmower and use their phone number to start my own business," Folkening recalled. "They agreed, so one Sunday at church, I stuck fliers on the windshields of the cars in 

the parking lot and picked up a couple of older clients. They were in the same neighborhood and they were small yards so I charged them $10 to $15 a yard. Soon I had a total of 10 yards to mow and my mom would have to drop me off on Saturday and pick me up later so I could get them all done. At the end of a long day I could walk away with $120 cash money and worked my tail off all day to get them done!," Folkening said.

"After a month I had enough money to buy my motorcycle, a YZ 80. It needed some work, but with my dad’s technical and mechanical inclination, we fixed it up and it was a screamer. My friends worked down the street at the world’s largest Dairy Queen all week long and came home with less money then I had just made in one day. I knew then that I would not work for anyone else, unless it was another entrepreneur," Folkening said.

"My little “company” started to expand over the next few summers, taking on more and bigger yards.  I needed to scale and get better equipment. Plus I already burned up my parent’s mower and had to replace it. So I bought my first walk behind mower and a trailer. I wanted to get more clients so I did the guerilla marketing thing. I went to home building job sites and got the scrap wood they were throwing away, then picked up some 99-cent sign templates and a 99-cent can of spray paint at Wal-Mart. I made about 20 signs that had Student Services, Inc. and my new phone number on them. The trick was to put the signs a little higher on the telephone poles so the city workers couldn't just come by without a ladder to take them down," Folkening laughed.

"I put them at the best spots around town and that was the last form of advertising I ever had to do. I would get a job, provide a great service and price and establish repeat customers and word of mouth. At the homes where I was working, I noticed the realtors were changing their signs from metal ones to plastic so they gave me 20 metal signs which I used for my on-site jobs. If you went into one of my neighborhoods, you would see 3 or 4 of my yard signs - Student Services, Inc and my phone number. That was all I needed to have enough business every day of the year in some of the best neighborhoods in the Midwest. I worked extremely long days, literally running from sites to the trailer, then back to another yard and working from 7 am to 10 pm every weekend. I also expanded the business by landscaping, painting houses, power washing, and even baby sitting."

After graduating from high school Folkening enrolled at David Letterman's alma mater, Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. "They had one of the best entrepreneurship programs in the nation, ran by Dr. Donald Kuraco," Folkening said. Despite his football success in high school, Folkening had decided to give up the game so he could concentrate on the entrepreneurship program and enjoy the college experience. "I made it through three semesters but on the first day of the fourth semester, while walking to class very early on a cold, slushy day, I realized I couldn't spend two to three more years in Muncie to earn a degree," Folkening said.

Above and below: 
Chad Folkening
introduces himself to fellow 
attendees aboard the Carnival Imagination 
cruise ship for the DNCruise conference.
 (October 2010). 

"I was already running a successful company and had to travel back home, one hour each way, on most late summer weekends to maintain my client’s landscaping needs. A little bit of the football bug was still there too, so I transferred a week later to Butler University (in Indianapolis) to go for the scholarship  they offered and to see if it was the college (Ball State) I was having issues with or something else."

Folkening quickly learned that the choice of colleges wasn't the cause of his unrest. "Things didn’t change," Chad said. "I made it through the semester, but knew I was not coming back to college. Later that summer, I did something stupid. I was drinking and driving and wound up totaling my vehicle while alone in the car. I spend eight hours in surgery and had 242 stitches put in my back. For months, I was in in pain but I finally picked myself back up, switched my Student Services business back on and tried to move forward in life," Folkening said.  

"Soon after, one my clients, a very large and successful commercial property owner hired me to manage one of his neighborhood entrances. It was cold, the ground was hard as rock and I just could not get a shovel into the frozen ground to dig a hole. My helper (who I later sold the company to) also tried and stopped quickly after hitting frozen ground as well. We had not gotten anything done when the owner pulled up and asked why the job wasn't done. We told him that the ground was frozen solid. So this 70-year-old man, Bob Sinner, opened up the trunk of his Mercedes, grabbed a shovel and proceeded to dig the hole! I learned then to stop making excuses and that if you pushed through the pain or a a rough situation, you could come out strong on the other side," Folkening said. 

Unfortunately, pushing through that pain was nothing compared to the tragedy Folkening would soon have to deal with. "My business was going good again and I wanted to expand but finding reliable workers is hard. My oldest brother Brett came home from college during the summer and needed a job so I offered him one, but the hourly rate was not what he hoped for. I came home one weekend day and he was making some nice signs that said student workers for hire!  I was kind of shocked but not really surprised," Folkening said. "He attempted to compete, but after a month he realized it was not that easy and required a lot more operations and maintenance work than he was expecting. So, we agreed to have him come in with me and run the mowing and landscaping division while I would focus on the painting, power washing side."

"After about a month, I was getting ready to offer Brett half the business so I could focus on expanding markets and clients. We partied together one Friday night and he slept on my couch that evening. On Saturday, hung over from drinking, we decided to postpone the day's work until Monday. Later that same day, on July 30th, 1993, Brett, just 25 years old at the time, was killed in a motorcycle accident."

Brett Folkening
childhood photo

"My world changed forever that day and it has been the hardest thing in my life to deal with," Folkening said. "All plans stopped and I just got by the remainder of the year with the help of the friends and great clients I had. That life changing experience, along with my own accident the year before, were the pivotal moments in my life."

"After deciding to quit college early, running a business and losing my brother I was looking for a new direction, "Folkening said. "I decided to get my bartenders license and wanted to spend the winters somewhere warm, work at night, hang out on the beach and just read, play pool and learn from the street. I had a bartending job lined up in Miami so while on my way from Indiana to Florida, I stopped at a friend’s campus at Florida State University in Tallahhassee. I figured it would make a good pit stop. When I got there we went out and noticed a vacant fraternity house on campus had a sign on it saying “For Sale or Lease.

"I immediately had a vision and saw an opportunity," Folkening said. "I always had a passion for real estate. This was 1994 and I was using Earthlink for my internet access. I knew the Internet was going to be huge but at that time I was really focused on this piece of real estate. So I spent the next three months sleeping on my friend’s couch, putting together a business plan and pursuing a deal. The building had a $665,000 price tag but with the renovations we needed to make it would end up costing $1.2 million." That is obviously a lot of money but Folkening had crunched the numbers and was confident the property would generate enough revenue to cover the mortgage and expenses and generate a profit. "My friend's father, who was a large real estate developer, agreed to back us with some starting capital," Folkening said, "so we made a non-refundable $7,500 payment to secure a 45-day purchase option on the building."

Folkening made his first foray into real estate 
when he tried to buy a vacant fraternity house 
on the Florida State campus (pictured above).

Photo courtesy of Florida State University, 
Tallahassee, Florida, USA. 

"We planned two penthouses on top for corporate alumni guests, 22 single room apartments and a  bar and restaurant in basement. We went to work getting vendor pricing, quotes, doing our due diligence, etc," Folkening said. The biggest obstacle he and his partners faced would be getting a new law passed that would allow a change of use for this campus building that was near FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium. They wound up starting a a student group to lobby in support of their efforts to expand housing. "We were going to have three buses on election day taking students to the polls,"  Folkening said. 

"On December 23, 1994, about 30 days into our purchase option, we decided to visit my friend and partner's family in Boca Raton for the holidays. While out and about that evening we were the victims in a hit and run car accident. A heroin addict on parole had stolen the car that smashed into us then took off. We chased him for

30 minutes with police later joining in a pursuit that ended when he crashed into a pole. They found guns and drugs in his car. So on Christmas Day, finding myself in a neck brace, banged up, separated from my family and friends and still not sure if we would get that critical change of use approved, I decided not to ask for an extension on our purchase option and saw that opportunity evaporate." 

Like any good entrepreneur, Folkening bounced back from this disappointment and started thinking about how he could put the lessons learned from his first real estate foray to good use in his next venture.  

"I went back home to Indiana and put another summer into Student Services to get back the money I lost on the Tallahassee deal and some extra cash that went into savings," Folkening recalled. With the next summer approaching, he decided to make a quick three-day trip to 
Charleston, South Carolina to accompany a friend who was driving down there for a job interview. While looking around town, Folkening came upon another vacant building at 348 King Street that caught his eye and drew him into another real estate adventure - one that would have a better outcome, but also wind up being derailed by another cruel twist of fate

After two months of negotiating with the owner Folkening had his property, along with a concept name and a business plan for Aberrations Art Cafe. After four months of jumping through what seemed like endless hoops put up by city officials, the business was finally up and running. "After three months of successful operations, I decided to make a run up to Indiana to visit friends and family after being away for eight months.

Downtown Charleston, South Carolina

We were only open Wednesday through Saturday, so I knew I could get back in time without missing a beat," Folkening said. 

Soon after he arrived back in Indiana disaster struck yet again. "My best friend and partner in crime -  my three-year-old black labrador - was hit by a car. I quickly become consumed by one thing and that was my dog and his survival. I know it sounds crazy but I learned how material things do not bring you happiness. I could go anywhere with my dog and be happy. It was a very special relationship and really my blessing after losing my brother," Folkening said.

"Two weeks later I had to go back to Charleston with my dog still in the emergency room and I wound up getting an offer for the business and decided to take it. It was just a really great venture and experience, something you can’t learn or do in college," Folkening said. He immediately headed back to Indiana, resumed Student Services and, best of all, watched his dog Indian slowly get better. Upon returning home Folkening also had an epiphany that would set him on the Internet course were he would finally find his life's calliing.

"I had a lot of time to think while painting houses and mowing grass again and I realized that in Charleston I had been paying $5,000 a month for a business that was limited to the visitors in a very limited area, something that was not open 24/7 and that gave me no significant return from an increasing building value. That’s when I started to do more research on domains," Folkening said. "With a $100 domain (the registration price in the mid 90s), you could own it forever, be open 24/7 and have a global market opportunity and customer base. I also knew technology would catch up and the balance between hardware and software would only instill more value to the domain name as the central location where they both merge together."

"It was a logical next step and a good investment risk as I merely integrated the new 21st century virtual real estate with my past physical real estate experiences. I funded my initial domain purchases with my profits from Student Services Inc. and decided at the end of the summer to sell my client base and equipment to my long time friend who had worked hard with me during the summers for the previous four years. He now makes a great living and is content with keeping it a two or three man show."

"I went into full time buying of domains in late summer of 1996. The old model of employees, equipment and overhead was making less money and more work than what I could do with a domain purchased for $100, knowing it was worth $1,000 or even $10,000. I wrote a killer business plan in late 1996 that I am still amazed at - the model  for a virtual, web-based Entrepreneurs Network.  I stuck to this model and shifted to an all virtual, domain asset buying strategy," Folkening said.

"I remember one day in late 1996 or early 1997 reading about a company that had a market valuation of like $50 million. Basically over night, the stock dropped to around a $5 million valuation simply because Microsoft said they were entering their market. I quickly decided to diversify my strategy and target the small business and deregulated Telecom and Energy markets," Folkening said. 

"My roommate at the time was a nerd/coder who was doing live video streaming and some virtual reality stuff that was just amazing back then. I realized just how powerful the Internet was 
and would become and decided to take the domain and IP/data infrastructure approach with technology opportunities. I formed an umbrella company, Hunter Investments (Editor's Note: Hunter was the middle name of Chad's brother Brett who had died in the motorcycle accident. Chad also has a son name Hunter today) to hold my three companies under something more meaningful. I called the Internet division Web-Based.com. I later lost that domain years later after forgetting to renew!" 

Hunter Investments later became eCorp, the corporate name Folkening's operations continue to operate under today. "Here we are 14 years later and I am still doing and building businesses on the Internet utilizing domain names as the core access points, operating system and business model," Folkening noted.

Chad Folkening and domain pioneer 
Garry Chernoff
at the 2009 DOMAINfest 
conference in Los Angeles.

Chad recalled that the major competing players when he started in the mid 90s were Scott Day, Garry Chernoff, Elia at Anything.com, Ray King (a Canadian investor - not the SnapNames founder of the same name), KingWeb and a few others. He also talked about his domain acquisition strategy. "I  focused on various verticals by creating new domains that were unregistered along with going after dropping names and buying a few larger domains on the aftermarket. Applications.com, Streaming.com, Automations.com, Telecom.com, Integrations.com, SatelliteTV.com, DSL.com, HostingServices.com, MobileWeb.com, etc. were all infrastructure related domains I acquired that defined my niche strategy in the early days. Back then it was free to lock down a domain, so you grabbed as many as you could, bought what you could afford and hoped no one caught on to your strategy."

To promote his burgeoning portfolio, Folkening would later take the proceeds from the sale of a couple of his domains and buy an RV that he turned into a mobile billboard. He plastered it with stickers for MobileWeb.com, DSL.com, Handyman.com and others, then set out on a Florida road trip. Domain fans will especially appreciate the license plate of Chad's RV. 

Above: Folkening promoted his domain names on this RV he bought in 2002.

Below: The RV's vanity license plate. The plate alone is probably worth a tidy sum now!

When Folkening and other pioneers began building their portfolios in the mid 90s the monetization options that people take for granted to day (like parking and affiliate programs) were either non-existent or in their infancy. The lack of ways to generate a return on domain investments was of no concern to Folkening though. "I  just knew that technology and the Internet was the future. I really was not worried about monetization as long as the value of the domain asset was increasing in value. For the price of a few mixed drinks you could buy a domain worth that of a house so i was not concerned with monetization - just acquisitions," Folkening emphasized.

"The original revenue model was never intended to sell domains but that ultimately was how it was financed. I used a lot of strategies to acquire names that included non refundable $1,000 or $5,000 fees  for 30-day buy options, gathering knowledge of who's who and who would do what -  for example buy, sell, partner or trade. We actually tried in 1998 to form a $100 million acquisition company to buy/partner with everyone in the industry, or at least the top 10 players, and aggregate portfolios. Todd Rokita, the Indiana Secretary of State who was my counsel at the time, flew to Las Vegas to meet with Ray King and other top domainers to merge and take out the next two-three big portfolios. The deal never panned out so I just continued to buy and sell domains to build up my own supply," Folkening said.

Folkening in Chicago for 
the 2008 GeoDomain Expo

Folkening was involved in developing his domains long before others were forced to look into development by the drastic decline in PPC revenue over the past couple of years. He said the domains he owned dictated what he had to do with them. "DSL.com became our first main development when we noticed it was drawing a ton of traffic and we had to do something with it. I bought that domain on the aftermarket because I knew that the next generation of applications would not be accomplished without high speed connectivity," Folkening said.  

"We were also one of the first companies to do XML integration for satellite access with DirectTV through our SatelliteTV.com site. I knew you had to have broadband to get to the next phase of the Internet and this was our strategy. It was around this time that I made my first million dollar mistake, trading DigitalCameras.com for Connectivity.com and $5,000. We wanted to leverage the domain to consolidate access pipes and integrate user profiles with data access points. I guess we were swinging for the fences instead of trying to hit singles," Folkening said.

"Next up was Handyman.com I believe. Again, traffic patterns justified turning it into something more. We have done a lot of other development projects for my corporation but recently started consolidating these individual projects into a more cohesive network plan. Next up on our development plate is Staffing.com, Streaming.com, Applications.com, Felony.com and others."

"The development formula I used was based on my three C's: Content, Community and Commerce. I really looked at these as the foundation and then added more C's; Computers, Connectivity, Capital, Collaboration, etc. We now just use Consumer Networking as the term we have been branding."

Folkening went on to build his own development platform to speed up construction on some of his domain assets. At the 2010 Domainfest Global conference last January in Los Angeles Folkening entered his new platform, dubbed RapidDomainBuilder.com, in a Pitchfest contest and it wound up being declared the Best Service Innovator  by the panel of judges. 

"With RDB, we build value through development and effective management of your domain network using targeted and customized frameworks with additional engagement and monetization features," Folkening said. "I developed it to create value across the entire "domain channel" including the end user and am excited to see it producing great results in producing real web-based businesses from your domains and getting the true value out of unique assets."

"10 years ago technology was not available that is available today and we are on the cutting edge of technology utilization, development and customization. My partner (John Ferber) and our current staff have built systems that do billions of dollars in the advertising space each year and were on a mission to duplicate that major accomplishment with domains," Folkening said. 

Folkening talks about his 
RapidDomainBuilder.com platform
at DOMAINfest Global 2010 and wins
the conference's Pitchfest contest 
award for Best Service Innovator.

"When we started there was no other offering on the market that could build and manage unique domain assets on a large scale. We are creating value beyond the standard revenue streams."

Gaining Ferber as a partner brought a new dimension to Folkening's RapidDomainBuilder project. Chad explained how he got together with the Advertising.com founder. "John, who was already a friend, approached me with an offer to help develop some of our premium domains. I said sure, but first you should see what we have been working on. He loved RDB and we ended up merging our teams and some assets and forming a new company - Domain Holdings."

"Along with RDB, we build and manage some of the top generic domains in the world with custom development, SEO-Content management and also create and implement monetization solutions. We also have a development division that builds enterprise solutions for companies around our RDB technology platform."

"We have some really big plans for Domain Holdings, LLC. We have a strong and growing team of experienced professionals who are working hard at implementing our ideas and visions. As with most products, they end up on a completely different path or application than expected and its hard to see where the offering will end up five years from now. Our current focus is on creating the best domain development, management and monetization system in the industry. Additional versions will allow us to drill even deeper into the vertical markets of niche industries through domains and expand those opportunities and applications," Folkening said.

"With the merger we also bring to the table some additional web-based products that we will be debuting to the industry in our phase 2 launch in the coming months. Our team is working hard and motivated to be the best true solution for domain owners that want to build real businesses and synergy within their domain portfolios," Folkening added.

As you might expect, Folkening is one of the leading evangelists for domain names, never missing a chance to tell young business people how much a good domain and an online presence can turbo charge their enterprise. In fact when he met the love of his life, Bianka Krausch, six years ago while she was working as a concierge in the Donald Trump organization, Folkening convinced the popular model to build her own company online. Bianka launched an online agency at ModelStore.com and it soon became the go-to source for hiring the area's top models. The ModelStore provided the many stunning models that assisted at various functions during the recent T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami conference.

Bianka Krausch (ModelStore.com) and Chad Folkening

As the value of his domains have grown, Folkening has also kept an eye on the political winds, especially since the interests of domain owners are currently under represented in government and regulatory circles. He hopes to see that change and hopes other domainers will see the wisdom in backing candidates who will give domainers a voice in determining their own futures. Folkening's attention to politics related to his business dates back to the 1990s.

"Around 1998, before ICANN  existed, the government was really not sure how to administer the rapidly growing Internet," Folkening said. "I was invited to join some others on a visit to the White House to talk with President Clinton's Senior Advisor Ira Magaziner about the web. Two years before that, when I was chasing Telecom domains, Congressman Cliff Stearns, who I just had lunch with at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami, was one of the delegates that wrote the Telecom Act of 1996 (legislation that also covers the Internet). Congressman Stearns is still on the scene and will have major input in an upcoming rewrite - the Telecom Act in 2011," Folkening said, also noting that Stearns will become Chairman of the House's powerful Energy and Commerce Committee (again with Internet oversight responsibilities) if Republicans regain control of the House in the upcoming election. 

U.S. Congressman Cliff Stearns (left) and former Congressman 
Mike Ferguson speaking at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami Oct. 18, 2010.

Folkening's former attorney, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, is also in line for a seat on that key committee if Rokita wins the U.S. Congressional race he was in at press time (Rokita held a comfortable lead in the polls going into the election). "Todd is interested in learning more about our industry and supporting us when issues arise. If anyone in our industry wants to have the ear of a someone on a committee that is so important to our industry, someone that will listen and acknowledge our concerns, Todd Rokita is our man," Folkening said.

Chad Folkening and Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami 2010

"Things like taxation, international lawsuits, Net Neutrality, Cyber Crime and policy changes all need a strong industry voice behind these issues and concerns. Please review your online and domain strategy and if it revolves around domains, then please review ToddRokita.com and donate to his campaign," Folkening implored (donations will be needed even after the election to help cover campaign expenses). 

"Who you gonna call when you have a concern that effects everyone in the domain business?" Folkening asked. "Why not call the leaders getting stuff done? We need to work as a cohesive group to really show the power of domains and its impact on our livelihood. Our industry needs to start looking ahead and seeing how politics is business and business is politics and position our industry to have a louder voice in governments and policies that effect or will effect out business."

While Chad is totally immersed in the domain business, he still has a soft spot in his heart for physical real estate. "Real estate is my passion, especially unique commercial properties," Folkening said. "In 2002 I purchased and renovated an old historic school that was considered a derelict building.  I turned it into art studios and recently sold the property for assisted living condos."

"In 2005 I noticed an article in the Indianapolis newspaper about a local 26,000 square foot estate that had been featured on  HGTV's Extreme Homes program and was still on the market after several months even though the owner had dropped the price several times. The next day I made an offer. The estate had not sold previously because of the condition of the property and the presence of several easements that potential buyers had reservations about. I eventually acquired the property and all of the easements and have spent the past five years renovating and remodeling the estate," Folkening said.

Above and below: The 26,000 square foot Indianapolis mansion Folkening 
purchased in 2005 and spent the past five years renovating.

Above: Google Earth view of the Indianapolis estate (courtesy of Google.com)

Below: Night view of the pool area at Folkening's Indiana home

"I have since used the property to develop systems and processes for my online developments such as PropertyManagement.com, HomeManagement.com, HomeChallenge.com and other ideas that can and will be implemented by leveraging the estate," Folkening noted.

Having such a showplace brought Chad another bonus as well. "Being from Indiana, not a lot of people want to come visit me, so having the estate helps motivate more visits and helps get business done!," Folkening smiled. "It's one of the most unique homes I have ever seen. We just had the Grammy award winning band Baha Men, who had a smash hit with "Who Let the Dogs Out" stay at the house for over two weeks while touring. There is even a video online from their stay there."

The house fits perfectly with Folkening's philosophy of life. After going through so many ups and downs, he has learned that you never know what lies around the next corner so you have to pause to appreciate the blessings you have. "My motto is to try every day to be Happy, Healthy and Having Fun - in fact I have it written in gold Chinese letters on the floor in my house!" Folkening said in closing.


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