📘.to — Simplifying Textbook Transactions for Students

Quick Summary of Contents

Welcome back! I’ve been quite busy writing and producing a number of NEW written articles, podcasts, and videos — soon to be released!

Nevertheless, it’s been a month or so since our last domain interview, and fortunately, that all changes today. 😉

If you’re a college or college-bound student, or know folks who are in this phase of life, then you’ll want to read and share today’s interview.

Neiv Allen Schwartz, CEO and Founder of Shooq, is a lover of all things tech, constantly immersing himself with technology every waking minute and moment of each day.

While attending Loyola Marymount University, Neiv got his first taste of creating a tech company when teaming up to start Lyte Systems. Him and his team launched a battery pack which charges to 100% in less than 18 minutes.

Since then, Neiv recently started a company to offer students a super easy way to buy, sell, and rent textbooks through a Facebook Messenger chatbot: Shooq.

I recently caught up with Neiv to discuss Shooq, marketing, business, tech, domains and more… That said, read up and enjoy!


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KSC: First question Neiv, what’s the story behind why you chose a .io domain for your personal website and a .group domain for a chatbot meetup group? Why not a .com domain?

NAS: Great question!  As mentioned earlier, I surround myself with technology in both my personal and business life; I’ve founded 2 companies in the technology space.

I selected a .IO domain (i.e., neiv.io) for my personal site because it allows me to brand myself as a technologist. As you may know, while .IO was not originally intended for that use, many technology companies and individuals use .IO to associate themselves with tech. This is because some people started associating .IO with “input/output,” which is connected with computers and software.

As for why I selected a .GROUP domain for the Chatbot Meetup Group website, some companies and individuals are slowly moving away from .COM, either out of necessity or to make a stand. I also think it’s about time to make the move away from .COM, which is one of the reasons behind choosing the domains Chatbot.Group and Chatbots.Group for our Meetup group.

KSC: So Neiv, share with our readers how Shooq became to be, and why it aims to simplify the textbook buying and selling process via a chatbot?

NAS: Shooq was conceived after realizing that the textbook buying and selling process was tiresome and needed to be simplified. Specifically, I noticed that trying to sell a textbook consisted of many different steps, including the need to pack/ship books and the need to wait many weeks for payment. I came to realize that many students did not have patience to deal with the time and energy necessary to complete that process.

After coming up with a better solution, I was able to start testing the concept in late 2015. From that point, the product and company evolved into what it is today. I invite you to try out Shooq’s chatbot.

Regarding the company name, Shooq is derived from the meaning of the word in Western Asian and North African. Countries within those areas define Shooq (or a similar spelling of the word) as a marketplace. For example, the Carmel Market (or ‘Shuk HaCarmel’) is Tel Aviv, Israel’s most famous shuk and is the city’s largest market.  After visiting, you’ll notice that it provides a wonderful community atmosphere.

KSC: So from a business model standpoint, why and how was Shooq membership, products/services, and price point(s) determined?

NAS: Thanks for your interest in Shooq’s business model, but, unfortunately, I cannot divulge these details.

KSC: Understood and no worries at all. So then, what does a customer actually experience when using Shooq’s product and service?

NAS: Shooq users should be able to buy and sell books with complete ease. Let me share the book selling process with you:

💬 When first starting to use Shooq, users will be interacting with our chatbot on Facebook Messenger, named Arti. They will receive an instant offer for their books.

🚘 After accepting the offer, they will be able to setup a pickup time and pickup address.

💵 Lastly, they will be paid within about 1 hour of their books being picked up by a courier.

This is the fastest method of selling books!

KSC: Shifting gears a bit, was Shooq.co a hand-registration domain or an aftermarket purchase from a 3rd-party?

NAS: Shooq.co was a hand-registered domain. I registered the domain in early 2015 before the company was incorporated and before we launched our MVP.

KSC: Besides Shooq.co, does Shooq own additional domain names used to market and advertise services?

NAS: We do have many different domains. However, most of them redirect to Shooq’s main website (shooq.co). For example, we own: shooq.com, shooq.it, shooq.us, shooq.shop, and many more.

We also use Shooq.biz and Shooq.fund as a website for investors.

KSC: I also discovered you own emoji domains based on a previous tweet I discovered about registering 💙📖.ws for Shooq’s use. When and how did you learn about emoji domain names?

NAS: I first came across emoji domains in a listing on Product Hunt back in October 2016. The product in the ProductHunt listing is called ❤❤❤.ws (or most recently known as ‘i❤ domains’), which allows users to find available emoji domains and register them at GoDaddy.

KSC: How did you learn about 💙📖.ws and 📘 .to being available for purchase?

NAS: After coming across ❤❤❤.ws, I started searching for available domain names; luckily, 💙📖.ws was available and I proceeded to register it at GoDaddy.com.

The same goes for the registration of the 📘.to domain. I first came across the possibility to register emoji domains for the .TO ccTLD when a product was featured on ProductHunt called 😁.to. I was surprised to see that 📘.to was still available and proceeded to register it immediately; in fact, I registered the domain the same day 😁.to went live on ProductHunt.

KSC: How long has Shooq owned 💙📖.ws and 📘.to emoji domains, and has Shooq received inquiries about either one, or offers to buy either one?

NAS: We have owned 💙📖 .ws since Apr 7, 2017 and 📘.to since August 15th, 2017. Thanks for your question, but I won’t be able to share details surrounding inquiries and offers for our emoji domains.

KSC: Why are 💙📖.ws and 📘.to so special to Shooq?

NAS: First off, emojis are a large part of our company, as we provide a message-based product. So, generally speaking, owning emoji domains work really well with our product.

Additionally, Shooq has been using 💙📖 as a footer/signature while replying to customer service emails and messages. Taking that into account, owning 💙📖.ws was a no brainer for us.

Digging a bit deeper, the open book emoji has a very special meaning to me and Shooq. If you look very closely inside the pages of the book, you will notice the famous quote by Steve Jobs (and Rob Siltanen):

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently….”

Steve Jobs is a huge inspiration to me and so many others. The open book emoji (with the quote mentioned above) has an enormous amount of meaning packed into a small size and is perfect for a startup such as ours.

KSC: Does Shooq have further plans to develop either one, or simply keep both as a redirect domains?

NAS: We do have plans to develop our emoji domains. However, we cannot make the plans public. Thank you for your interest.

KSC: What are Shooq’s thoughts pertaining to annual renewal cost of emoji domains?

NAS: In short, my thoughts on emoji domain renewals are that they are expensive. However, my thoughts on renewal costs also depend on the TLD and how they are compared. For example, emoji domain renewals are expensive in relationship to a .COM or .NET renewals. Where as, emoji domain renewals are quite inexpensive when compared to a .AI renewal, which could cost about $99 USD.

At the moment, GoDaddy is actually offering quite a deal for new .WS Emoji domain registrations at $4.99. However, the renewal cost jumps up to $34.99, so they’re essentially locking in customers to pay a high price down the road. Overall, I would like to see the cost of emoji domain renewals drop in price, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

KSC: Does Shooq have other emoji domains that are developed, redirected, parked or simply held as a short/long term investment?

NAS: Yes. We recently registered i💙books.ws, which redirects to shooq.co. I’m a big fan of combining text and emojis into a single domain, which allows the domain to be a bit more dynamic!

KSC: Has Shooq used or currently using emoji domains in offline/online advertising?

NAS: We haven’t used our emoji domains for any paid advertising. However, we have used them in limited cases for social media posts, such as Instagram.

We had a positive response; some users were surprised at the existence of emoji domains.

KSC: So Neiv, would you recommend emoji domains to personal and business brands to represent their primary website?

NAS: My recommendation on emoji domains for brands comes down to timing. In the present, I believe that emoji domains definitely have a ‘WOW’ factor. However, at the moment, I don’t believe that emoji domains have much use and have a low ROI.

In my opinion, they will start to become more useful sometime in the future; it’s probably important to register them today and market them sometime down the road.

KSC: Based on experience, how do you see emoji domain names impacting how a personal brand or business markets and advertises to reach more people?

NAS: That’s a good question. As mentioned in my earlier answer, I don’t see the need to put much money, time, or energy into emoji domains in the present. As far as the future goes, I would prefer not to speculate; time will tell.

KSC: Wrapping things up, is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

NAS: Definitely; I do have one last thing to share!  I believe emoji domains will become effective when our smartphones and computers do a better job of making emojis more accessible. In most cases, searching for an emoji is a slow process, especially when comparing the speed of typing out a normal text domain. This is of course not applicable in all situations.

Taking this into account, I believe that the success of emoji domains will lie solely on how tech companies prioritize the mobile keyboard and other devices, such as the MacBook Touch Bar. Without easy access to emojis, emoji domains will never reach their full potential. It has been increasingly easier over the years, but there is still a long way to go.

Overall, at the moment, Emoji Domains sound and look more appealing than their actual usefulness.

Thanks for having me and giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts on the topic!

And there you have it!

Special thanks to Neiv for making and taking time to share and discuss Shooq, marketing, business, tech, and domains.

I hope you’ve found Neiv’s story to be as insightful as I have in my short time of getting to know a bit about him and his company, Shooq.co.

In closing, I wish Neiv much success with Shooq’s quest of simplifying textbook transactions for students throughout the world.

Thanks, and that’s all for now!

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.