As the 2nd Annual MERGE! comes to a conclusion in it’s final day, there were many sessions, keynotes and connections to be had and made from Day One, Day Two and Day Three.

Conferences like MERGE! tend to move at a lightening speed in person while it can be perceived as a long time when seeing the outlay of time on paper.

Nevertheless, the final day of MERGE! kicked off with a pasties breakfast bar and keynote from Stefan Pretty, CEO, entitled “Bootstrappers do it better”.

Although many points were about about bootstrapping, one of the key takeaways from Stefan’s presentation was how bootstrappers should constantly ask the following 4 questions at every twist and turn in their journey:

  • What is the minimum?
  • Do I really need this? But really…?
  • Can I learn it or should I buy?
  • Does this move the needle?

While Stefan spoke directly to bootstrappers, I thought about the questions through the lease of a domain investor when consider domains, specifically buying domains.

  • Is this the best domain?
  • Do I really need this domain? But really…?
  • Can I upgrade, or should I hand-register?
  • Does this domain move the needle?

Not only does this apply to bootstrappers and domainers, but the aforementioned questions could certainly apply to life in general towards being and measuring levels of success.

Stefan Pretty Presents at Merge!

And speaking of success, Colin Campbell, CEO of .Club, took to the stage next, presenting an updated version of a presentation I’ve heard him give before: What Makes a Startup Successful.

Colin Campbell Presents at MERGE!

Colin used the following matrix (see image below) as a talking point to highlight the phases of a startup.

Colin Campbell's Matrix: What Makes a Startup Successful

Although I’ve heard and seen Colin give the presentation, one nugget of wisdom that caught my attention was the following statement:

Thinking about the exit truly determines your success before you ever start the journey…

While Colin was speaking directly to entrepreneurs and referencing past startup successes and failures, I saw the parallel to domain investing as well as using this principle to live life.

While it’s fun to buy domains, I would be willing that most domain investors don’t truly consider or think about a realistic exit. Most are on a wing and a prayer, if that.

Colin’s sobering statement has likely been felt by thousands (with many more to come and go too) of folks who enter and exit into the domain industry like a flash in a pan.

The following hour I was once again torn between attending two concurrent sessions, but choose to attend Chris Edwards’ presentation about establishing original content the data driven way.

CCTLDs - Their Utility, Value, and Benefit

Having attending a few of Chris’ previous sessions, this session should have been a MUST attend for anyone seeking to develop a blog or content marketing strategy to gain greater exposure for a personal or company brand.


Having only a handful of attendees in this session, Chris shifted gears a bit and made this session more hands-on.

Chris shared a host of paid and non-paid tools for attendees to discover varying levels of keyword ranking opportunities for their given topics.

While most presenters were preoccupied with selling their “wares”, what I thoroughly enjoyed the most with each of Chris’ presentations was his willingness to educate, share, and “show” his expertise by revealing his own content marketing strategy for

Those that attended this session certainly got their money’s worth and more.

Closing out the morning was an interesting discussion about DotBrands and Corporate Domain Portfolios led by Jothan Frakes (Moderator) with panelist Jochen Kieler, Martin Kuechenthal, Cole Quinn, and Mike Rodenbach.

MERGE! Panel - DotBrands and Corporate Domain Portfolios

While I perceived most companies to have purchased and relinquished rights to their respective DotBrand extension, I was surprised to have learned about the website MakeWay.World — the world’s leading hub of .brand information.


MakeWay.World showcases a growing number of brands using their respective extension as well as news and insights, resources, and videos.

While I’m not one for presentations immediately following lunch, I certainly wasn’t going to miss Norman Farrar’s presentation Turning Pennies into Dollars.

MERGE! - Norman Farrar presents Turning Pennies into Dollars

Having witnessed the Day 3 presentation with sidekick Will Ligthart, I was ready with camera and video to capture and pickup all that Norman was putting down. And my oh my, did he put down about all aspects of branding!

Although most folks within the domain industry likely know the information presented in the following slides, it’s worth sharing once more:

MERGE! - Tips for Finding a Domain

How to Buy an Awesome Domain

What to do When Buying Domains for a Brand

While many attendees “Rock the Cash Bar” in the Expo Hall — communicating and touching base with attendees and exhibitors packing up and leaving — Karla Campos and Paul Brinkmann took to the stage to share and discuss how to pitch content that attracts and keeps viewers.

MERGE! - Content the Media Way with Karla Campos and Paul Brinkmann

One of the tool highlights both mentioned and recommended that attendees use to promote industry-related content is Help A Reporter Out (HARO).

This session ended a bit early, allowing me one final opportunity to connect with certain attendees and exhibitors for interviews.

While I was finishing up my final interview of the day and conference, I missed the very beginning of what I come to know a fiery session — The Great Debate: .Com vs New gTLDs – How it it stacking up? 🤔

Moderated by Jothan Frakes, Kevin Kopas and Dr. Gregg McNair didn’t mince words with or about one another when sharing very opinionated stances about how .com and new gTLDs are stacking up.

Although the sounds not the greatest quality, do watch and listen as both sides debate very valid stances.

Bringing MERGE! 2018 to its close was an insightful panel: CEOs Discuss the Future of the Industry.

MERGE! - CEOs Discuss the Future of the Industry

MERGE! Panelists - CEOs Discuss the Future of the Industry

This panel, moderated by Jothan Frakes, consisted of Chad Bennett, Colin Campbell, Norman Farrar, Jochen Kieler, Kevin Kopas, Dr. Gregg McNair, and Stefan Pretty.

Presented with a number of questions, each panelist shared their views on various aspects of the MERGE! conference — the good, the bad, and ugly — as well as the various industries represented at the table.

It’s always interesting and good to hear that even those great minds that we heard from also found themselves learning and taking copies notes when not presenting.

Grateful for the opportunity to have moderated, I certainly walked away from MERGE! with new and continued relationships, and a plethora of new content ideas I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks and months.

If you missed MERGE! 2018, then I certainly challenge you to attend next year. In the meantime though, don’t forget you have the opportunity to attend NameSummit and NamesCon, which are fast approaching!

While I haven’t fully decided on NameSummit, I will be at NamesCon (Lord willing)! Will I see you there?

Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.