Ali Zandi entered the domain name industry as an investor in mid-2014. He started by purchasing 10 domain names and sold every single one within 30 days on Flippa.
He did such a good job, he moved from selling about $2,000 to $12,000 in a period of three months, was upgraded from “New” to “Super Seller” on Flippa, and was offered a newly created senior broker position at Flippa. (His sales are now $402,000 in the first 7 months.)
In this interview, Ali Zandi talks about who buys what types of domain names on Flippa, and walks us through his exact process for listing domain names for sale on Flippa.
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Domain name investors want to reach end users who will buy a domain name with intent to develop a business — because they’re likely to pay more for the domain name. But selling on domain name-only marketplaces like Sedo and DomainNameSales.com isn’t optimal because it requires an end-user to have an idea, think of the domain name and then go looking for it. Many entrepreneurs look for opportunities differently. They may want to find a business idea and domain name at the same time as it short-circuits the business development timeline. That’s where a relatively new marketplace comes in. Stay tuned.
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Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the Publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you can learn how to become a successful domain name investor or entrepreneur directly from the experts.
There is a marketplace called Flippa that is the equivalent of eBay, but for websites, where owners who are interested in selling their website for whatever reason, revenue producing or not, can list for sale and find buyers.
Because of this, Flippa attracts a unique type of buyer, and last year they made strides to sell domain names by adding a domain section to their marketplace. I have been following domain sellers on Flippa who have results that outpace the majority of others. I watch what they do, how they do it, and I try to understand how they get their results. Today I am going to interview one of these people.
I would like to welcome back to the show, Ali Zandi, Senior Domains Broker at Flippa.com. Welcome, Ali.
Ali Zandi: Thanks, Michael. Pleasure to be here, man.
Michael: So, you were on the Domain Sherpa Review Show back in September of 2014, where you shared your portfolio of domains with our Sherpa Panel and asked for feedback on your buying strategy.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah, I did not get the feedback I was expecting.
Michael: So, let me ask you. You did not get the feedback. You were hoping that they were going to love your domains, right?
Michael: Like we all hope that everybody is just going to love our domains, like you have got an eye for domains that we have not seen ever. You had names like BackupMac.com, which I do not think they liked because it had the mac term in there. You had CupcakeFrosting, ExoticCarAuction, NearestRestaurants.com, and Flipped.net. But since you have been on the Domain Sherpa Review, I have noticed that you have had some pretty good sales on Flippa, including those domain names.
Ali: Oh yeah, those sold like hotcakes.
Michael: Let me start by asking you this. How much in revenue have you sold since becoming a seller on Flippa?
Ali: Oh man, I think in July, when I actually first started, I had about – I don’t know – a couple thousand in sales, and then, by September, when we spoke, I was at about 12 thousand in total sales. And now I am at around 350 thousand. So, about five to six months, I had a little less and yeah, so doing about 350 thousand, looking to close January off with a total of about around four hundred thousand.
Michael: Wow. So, in July of 2000, those were just your domains. Right?
Michael: You bought them. You sold them. You kept all the profit. In September, 12 thousand. Again, those were your domains. You bought them. You sold them. Now I mention you are the Senior Broker of Domains at Flippa. The 350 thousand includes other domain names that you are brokering, right?
Ali: Yeah, it includes a bunch of them from four figures to five figures and six figures.
Michael: Okay, we are going to get into that, but back on to those domain names that you brought on the Review, which people were not enamored by. You ended up selling Flipped.net for 1999 dollars. You sold NearestRestaurants for 15 hundred bucks. CupcakeFrosting.com, which I personally did not like. What are you going to do with CupcakeFrosting? You sold that for 601 dollars.
Ali: Oh yeah.
Michael: (Unclear 3:33.5): 395. BackupMac: 551. FreeInstrumentals.com you sold for four thousand dollars.
Michael: You cannot argue with sales, right?
Ali: You cannot argue with that. I mean everybody has a different taste and different opinion on what is valuable, and my gut instinct has always been right, so I just go with it and it seemed to be working.
Michael: And I remember that you had a very disciplined approach to domain name investing when you started. You only bought a couple handfuls of domain names and you needed to sell them before you bought more. Am I remembering that correctly?
Ali: Absolutely. I would limit myself to just a few domains. I mean maybe ten to 20, sometimes 30, and those all had to be sold within 30 days.
Ali: I would not buy any more.
Michael: So, win. Lose. Draw. Regardless of whether you made a profit or you took a loss, you are selling them.
Ali: Oh, I made a profit 99.9 percent of the time.
Michael: So, are there any domains from the original 25 that were on that Domain Sherpa Review, and I will have a link to it below this video, that you were unable to sell on Flippa?
Ali: No, I sold them all.
Ali: Yeah, every single one. They are gone.
Michael: How many domain names in total do you think you have sold since you have been in the industry, since mid-last year?
Ali: Three hundred maybe.
Ali: There was a couple auctions that I had. One of them was like a 70 domain bundle. Another one was like 90 domains. So, I guess it is relative how you look at it, but total domains in and out of my account has been about three hundred or so.
Michael: Yeah, and I am going to ask you more about the bundling of domain name, because I noticed you have done that in the past, but let me ask you this before we get into the details. How much profit have you made by selling domain names since you have been in business?
Ali: A lot, yeah.
Michael: Is it more than mid-five figures?
Ali: Oh yeah.
Michael: Is it more than six figures?
Ali: Yeah, we are in six figures now.
Michael: Wow, so you have personally made, by working whatever. You work a lot of hours. I actually Skype with you a lot and I know you work a lot of hours, even though you are based in Hawaii, but you have made over six figures in profit, in put it in your pocket before taxes.
Ali: Yeah, man.
Michael: All right. So, as a result of your success in selling domain names on Flippa, just being a regular Joe, like a regular person that went and created an account on Flippa and started selling, what has happened to you at Flippa?
Ali: Oh man, a lot. I mean I got hired as a Senior Broker. They reached out and they were impressed with the sales and offered me the position. I hopped all over it. I have had my eye set out at working at Flippa since day one, and here I am. I mean I live in Hawaii. I have a great house. I have the car I want to drive. Beautiful fiancé, and I could afford to buy her a nice ring. I mean financially, mentally, just like this freedom that I have gotten from learning how to buy and sell domain names, and I get to work from home in a nice, little office. I have got a beautiful view and life is good.
Ali: Life has turned out to be really good. Yeah.
Michael: All right, before we dig into how you make the sales you have, I want to better understand the Flippa marketplace, so let me start by asking you. How do you describe Flippa to people not familiar with it? Was my description at the beginning of the show appropriate?
Ali: I do not like the comparison, but I mean, to me, and it has always been this way, it is an entrepreneur’s marketplace. And the tagline is right on point. From SEO gurus to web designers, to investors, I mean it runs the gamut. The whole spectrum is covered. And I tell them it is basically digital real estate. It is where you go to buy and sell digital real estate, and that seems to be the best explanation.
Michael: Yeah, and so all of those descriptions that you mentioned about entrepreneurs, they are pretty much digital entrepreneurs. These are people that understand the web to a great degree.
Ali: Yeah, there are some that do not. There are some people that come on and they are just getting into the web and they see how lucrative it is. And they go on and buy it. Let’s say a website that is generating monthly revenue and they want to get out of the brick and mortar or the nine-to-five they are doing. So, it does run the whole gamut.
Michael: Yeah. So, is that the way you describe the people that come to Flippa? The buyers are typically most likely educated about the Internet. They are entrepreneurs. How else do you summarize the buying community?
Ali: It is huge, man. I mean it is just like any retail store. If somebody comes in to buy a cologne, it could be a doctor. It could be a CEO. It could be someone that works here or there. More often than not, it is investors. I personally sold a (Unclear 8:36.3), through Flippa, of companies, bigger companies, and it does run the whole gamut. Marketers. SEO gurus. I mean just everyone. You really cannot tell who you are going to run into. I mean there is people that just buy domains just to hold on to them for the future.
Michael: But many of the domains that you have personally sold before you became Senior Broker, such as NearestRestaurants.com and CupcakeFrosting.com, are not technology related. Does it matter for domain name sales?
Ali: I do not think so. I mean NearestRestaurants is a highly developable domain name. You can create a website and an app for that in six months to a year, and that is actually who I sold it to, was a developer, and those are the types of names that this person buys and we have transacted before on similar types of names. So, CupcakeFrosting easily developed overnight into a cupcake blog, dessert recipes and stuff like that. So, I like to pick up names that people can develop and turn into. Whether it is a blog, a business, or informative site, those are the types that have worked best for me.
Michael: What is the general range of budget that you see buyers spending on Flippa?
Ali: That is a big question. I mean if I put a domain name up that is valued at three hundred dollars across the board, relative from an (Unclear 10:02.9) investor, then it is going to sell for three hundred and somebody is going to have a three-hundred-dollar budget. But if I put up a six-figure domain, it is priced accordingly and it is valued accordingly, the budgets are out there. I have personally sold domains for one hundred dollars and I have sold them well into six figures on Flippa. And there are some that I cannot talk about. There are some that have sold for 20 to 30 thousand, so the money is always there.
Michael: So, I have had John (Unclear 10:27.2), who bought StockPhoto.com off of Flippa on the show to talk about that buying experience. He paid 250 thousand dollars, which I do not typically think of Flippa as a place where you go and spend six figures to a buy a domain name, but what you are saying is that they are out there. The buyers who have six figures to spend are there, just like they are on other sites.
Ali: Oh, absolutely. I mean Flippa has officially been in the domain business for really only a year, since 2014, so we are bulking up the premium lot. I mean I have a list of two hundred domains right now, these monsters that we are getting ready to launch. So, the domains will be there. And I believe if the names are there, the money will come too. The buyers will come to where the domains are. So, it is not about Flippa. It is about the quality of the names and the pricing.
Michael: Yeah, all right. So, I want to understand how exactly you have accomplished what you have in such a short amount of time. I will do so by asking you some questions about a domain name that I am intimately involved with because I used to own it and I asked you to broker it for me on Flippa. The domain name was SEO.io, and for those in the audience that have watched enough of the shows, they know that I like my SEO and SEM-related domain names. I picked up SEO.io and I think you and I were chatting back and forth and you were like: “That is a great domain name. We should sell it.”
Why did you think .IO would sell well on Flippa?
Ali: .IOs have always sold well. When they first came out, they were doing four figures, some even five figures. And I think being in a technology world, .IO is one of those extensions that is not only going to stay around, but it is also going to grow. And I have always had this gut instinct with pricing, and as soon as you said that name, ten grand just popped up in my head. I was like: “That is a perfect reserve for it.” The audience is there. I mean marketers, SEO people, technology educated folks on Flippa are just waiting for domains like this to come out, and .IO is synonymous is programming – ones and zeros. All life in computers and technology is based off those ones and zeros.
So, the Internet being so massive, search engine optimization, I mean that is what we live for. That is what we put up websites for. That is how we get ranked and that is a monster domain.
Michael: Yeah. Now, just to give the viewers, because I am sure they are going to think, “Well, what did Mike pay for this domain name? Why won’t he tell us?” I bought it back in June 2013. I was actually looking at another SEO domain name, reached out to the owner about it, asked him what other domains he had and he mentioned SEO.io, and I loved it too because it is so short and it was tech related. I paid about four thousand dollars for it back then. I do not think I have received a single offer on SEO.io until I asked you to list it for me.
I said, “What do you think it would go for?” I think you said, “Well, at least ten thousand or right around ten thousand or so,” and I said, “Well, if it is ten thousand, I am not sure I want to sell it yet.” And then you said, “Well, we could put a higher reserve on it,” and if I remember correctly, you came back and said, “Let’s do an 11 thousand or a 12 thousand reserve.”
Michael: And I was like: “No, still not good enough.” So, we ended up agreeing on a 15-thousand-dollar reserve, right?
Michael: And so, how often do you have to negotiate with sellers to get a realistic reserve?
Ali: Oh, that is the job of the broker.
Michael: Is that your biggest hurdle to get over, just to bring sellers into realistic pricing zones?
Ali: It is. It is harder than you think. Everybody has this vision of what their domain is valued at. You pay four thousand dollars for a domain. You are going to want to make a lump sum to feel good about it. And I was speaking with another broker, who also does very well on Flippa, and he told me the job of the broker is not to find a buyer with deep enough pockets to pay whatever you want for the name. It is to find the seller who is reasonable enough to sell the domain for a profit. So, I think it is getting the buyers up and getting the sellers down to a price where they are both happy and they both walk away feeling like they could have got a little bit more off the table, but still content.
Michael: Yeah, and so how do you think that the auction went, because you opened it up to a regular auction? And I think it generated interest right from the beginning and had a decent amount of bids.
Ali: Oh yeah, instantly generated interest, as I thought it would on Flippa, and then I did a lot of outbound and I contact a lot of people. I have a pretty big contact list. I have a pretty thorough outbound technique, and by word of mouth or however it got out there, the owner – I do not want to mention his name. I do not know if he wants to be known, but he got a hold of it and he came in and he made a very good offer, and he stuck to it no matter what I tried, and sometimes it is that way. And I am glad we were able to agree to meet there and get it sold.
Michael: Yeah, and it is public information. People can go on Flippa and this was revealed and shared with DN Prices I believe. And it ended up negotiated sale of 11 thousand dollars.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah, right where I thought.
Michael: Right where you thought originally. Sometimes it takes me a little bit of time to come to reality though. And it is interesting that you mention you did outbound, because I think a lot of people expect that if they are going to pay money to list a domain name and promote a domain name on a marketplace, that is the marketplace’s job to bring the buyers and that they will not actually have to do anything more. They are trading money for visibility, but that is not the case.
Ali: Yeah, that is not the case at all. I mean you get the visibility. Do not get me wrong. There has been a few domains that I have sold by just sitting on my hands, and you get the visibility, but the thing is on Flippa you have to be an active seller, and that is why it is such a great marketplace. You comment. You make comments. You reach out. You get inbound offers. You contact corporations. You contact, especially for SEO.io, SEO experts. And you reach out and eventually the buyers will come because one of them is going to hear it, he is going to mention it to his buddy, his buddy is going to mention it to his network and it is going to spread. And before you know it, a new user is going to sign up and there is your exposure right there.
And if it is sitting up top, you have ultra premium on it, sitting up top. It is visible. You get those bids in the beginning, but your real buyer, you have got to be an active seller to get it going.
Michael: Yeah. All right, so we are going to flip the camera and look at your screen right now, Ali, and you are going to walk us through a tutorial of how to list a domain name. Are we going to use SEO.io as an example?
Ali: Sure, we can use SEO.io. We can use just about any domain you want.
Michael: All right, so go ahead and share your screen.
Ali: Okay, so you see it.
Michael: There we go. I see a big me. All right.
Ali: I will change it over. So, basically this is my process.
So, I usually go to Flippa and you hit the big, green, sell button up here and you come to here. What are you selling? So, we are selling a domain. Go to auction. And then we are going to type SEO.io. Now we get started here.
Michael: Okay, so they are going to want the auction, not the classified option.
Ali: Exactly. Yeah, I mean unless you want to put it in a catalog, different story, but we want the auction. It was not generating any revenue. That is fine. So, here we are.
You come to the pitch. Now, I have a different process. Generally I have everything templated out, so I would go SEO.io and then that is a domain. I would come down here. So, let’s just say it is ten years old. Ten years aged. 200 thousand searches per month. I mean this is not accurate. I am just making this up.
Michael: Right. So, basically this is your quick, little summary or your tagline. You want to pick a couple of the qualities that you think most differentiate this domain name from others.
Ali: Yeah, exactly, so these are the bullet points at the top. This is why this domain is great in bullet points. I will write it here. Huge market. You are going down. And then here I write my description. So, you can write SEO.io is a phenomenal name, and let’s go ahead and find exactly what I did.
Michael: Okay. Yeah, let’s take a look.
Ali: So, this is basically my description that I wrote. Five hundred thousand exact match searches per month. One million exact searches. Entire search engine. 11 million broad matches. CPC. And then this is a description that I wrote.
Michael: Wow, that is enormous.
Michael: And you only got me 11 thousand dollars, Ali?
Ali: Well, I made up for it with PHP.io, didn’t I?
Michael: Yeah, we will get to that. You just sold PHP.io for me. We could talk about that a little bit later too. All right, so that is the description right there.
Ali: Yeah, that is a description.
Michael: Actually the whole thing is the description.
Ali: The whole thing is, yeah. So, I have my search volume section here.
Michael: Okay, I see that.
Ali: So, we have comparable sales, search volume and whatnot there.
Michael: So, what is the difference between the tagline and the summary then?
Ali: So, when you look at the homepage, you will see this is the tagline, so basically this is what is right underneath your domain. So, that is where you really want to draw people in. Just huge opportunity, low reserve, so on and so forth.
Ali: And a summary is where you are going to want to really give a really brief summary of what the opportunity is. So, I wrote one of the biggest opportunities on the market today. SEO is the single most important thing for any company looking to establish a solid web presence. The opportunity lies here in this domain.
Michael: Okay, and so the tagline is on the summary pages. The description right there is the first thing they read in that first box. The summary.
Michael: And then the description is like the full kit and caboodle. Everything is included.
Ali: Yeah, description is this whole entire block. This is really where you want to make your sale.
Michael: So, I get the tagline. I get the summary. How do you come up with what to write in the description?
Ali: I am a writer, man. I love to talk. I love to write. I love to get creative, and really I mean I take this domain and, Mike, this is my domain now. How would I want to see it if I was going to go buy it? I want to get excited. I want to present opportunities. I want to give you ideas. What can you do with this domain name? I mean really I want to know. I go to a car dealership and I look at the sticker. I want to know how many horsepower it has, what kind of warranty it has, what all the features are – what can I really do with this car?
And it is the same thing with this description. I tell you everything that I feel that I would want to read when I am going to buy just about anything.
Michael: So, it is basically aspirational. You are looking for opportunities. You are looking for pretty much anything that is going to trigger something in a buyer to say, “Ooh, that would be cool. I could do that.”
Ali: Yeah, like: “Oh, I did not think about that. That is a great idea. Maybe I could really do this.” And you want to inspire something. You want to pull on that one string that gets them truly excited.
Michael: So, that is a key differentiator on Flippa for selling domains versus like a Sedo or one of the other sites that is domain only marketplaces. There you pretty much cannot write anything. Here you can write whatever you want and it is a sales opportunity.
Ali: Yeah, absolutely. I mean this is your golden opportunity. In the beginning, when I started, I looked at every single place I could sell a domain and Flippa was the only one that I found that I could just bam, write out a sales letter and basically any way I wanted to. And this has been enormous in my success, is these sales letters, man.
Michael: Awesome. Okay, so I see how you write the first part of that description there. Where do you go find the exact match searches, the comparable sales, and all the other information that goes into that description?
Ali: Okay, so this is my process for finding the searches. Go to Google Keyword Planner because, to me, it is the most accurate. I type in SEO. Basically it pops up. SEO, the term itself, has 550 thousand matches. These are the relative matches. Here is one hundred of them. I always grab the first hundred. I never play with average or whatever, and then I highlight everything. Now, I have my little template set up because I do so many. I take this, remove all this, blast it here, and then see how it is like SEO in quotes. Then take the whole thing, remove all the extra spaces, and boom, I have my search volume all there. And that is all of my search volume.
Michael: That is pretty darn quick right there, Ali.
Ali: Yeah. I mean I had to find a way to do it fast. It was these templates and finding the right tools. So, that is search volume. Now I have given you basically 101 different terms.
Michael: And so, now I can quickly look over those and say, “Oh, this could be SEO software or I could use this for SEO consulting or I could use this for SEO link checker.”
Ali: Exactly. Yeah, I mean there is no limit, especially with SEO. I mean it is everything.
Michael: Yeah, so that is why including the search phrases as well as the number of searches and then the cost per click is useful, because then people can connect the domain name directly to that phrase.
Michael: And with SEO, SEO could be anything. It is not like CupcakeFrosting. You are going to be (Unclear 24:46.5) by the number of searches potentially, where people may want cupcake recipes or cupcake nutritional information. I do not know. Do you feel like a domain name like CupcakeFrosting, two words, might limit it more than a single word?
Ali: Oh, absolutely. I mean let me type it in right here. It is super limited. The more words you have, the more limiting it becomes. I mean look, it is minimal searches and these minor searches count for super ultra niche domains. But with something like SEO, I mean if it was Cupcakes.com, we would be having a different conversation, but it is not.
Michael: Yeah, exactly. Okay, good point.
Ali: Okay, so now we have search volume. I use DN Sale Price. I use DN Prices. And then I will just type in SEO and just get relative. Stuff that was sold. I usually go all the way to the highest one and I just copy these. Same kind of process. Type them in here and then add my periods and whatnot. Come back and remove the spaces. I mean it is an entire process that I go through.
Ali: And then I do my sold for. Same process. Boom, and now I have my comparable sales already. Go ahead and toss them in my comparable sales section and I have half of my listing done already. And from there, it just comes down to writing the description. So, I usually do everything else first and then I sit down and I write the description. I Google stuff. I look at opportunities out there, ideas.
Michael: Because looking at what has sold as well as the search volume related to that keyword might provide you with other ideas on what to write in the description.
Ali: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean it sparks stuff. When I see search engine optimization (SEO), I see marketing. Even Matt Cutts.
Michael: Yeah, Matt Cutts. Did you reach out to Matt?
Ali: No, he always owns SEONinja. Yeah, but SEOAgency. Techniques. I mean sparks so many different things that this domain could be used for, and if not all of them. So, it was a huge opportunity.
Michael: Yeah, cool. All right, so that is how you put together your description. What is next on the process at Flippa?
Ali: Okay, so once your description is done.
Michael: Before you hit the next key, Ali, a lot of people get really bent out of shape about showing their process. You showed us your entire process. Does that worry you at all?
Ali: Not at all. I mean I can show you how to drive a Lamborghini. It does not mean you are going to become the world’s best racecar driver. But I love seeing other people succeed, man. I mean anybody that has come to me with questions, I have a protégé that I am training right now. I talk to my friends. I help them out. I mean this is an entire industry. This is not just about me and my bank account. This is about establishing our industry as a profitable place and legitimize it.
People look at us like we are squatters. We are not. We are businessmen, and I have no problem showing you my process. If it is going to bring more money to the company that I am working for now, Flippa, then by all means, learn away. Copy and paste. Use my template.
Michael: Very cool.
Michael: All right, let’s hit next then.
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Ali: Okay, so here is where you are going to basically setup your sale. And you can go auction, private sale. I always do auction.
Michael: What is a private sale? I was not aware of that.
Ali: So, a private sale basically is a make offer sale.
Michael: Oh, okay.
Ali: So, the domain goes up and all you get is offers, and you can set your offer minimum. I like bidding wars. It is exciting, so I go with auction. I almost always do 30 days. I sold a domain on the 29th day from somebody that was up at night, could not sleep and they saw it. So, that was enough for me to set them at 30 days all the time.
Michael: So, you can list it between 3 and 30 days maximum. Oh, you can list one day? No, I think three is the lowest, but 30 days you always list because it gives you the maximum exposure for the domain name.
Michael: You do not find that people see it and they are like: “Oh, that is going to take too long. I am not going to watch it.”
Ali: Not at all. I mean if you see it and you like it, make an offer, and that is all the inbound offers that come in and it gives you time to do outbound. I mean if you really want to make a sale and maximize your profit, then why not 30 days? I mean that is not that long.
Ali: So, from here, you pick your days. You put your reserve price. We did that the first time. And select which methods of payment you will accept.
Michael: And if you do not specify a reserve, it will sell to the highest bidder, right?
Ali: Yeah. Well, you have got to do a one dollar minimum. That is basically no reserve.
Michael: What is under that advanced link right there?
Ali: So, this is automatically accept most bidders, and you can setup a starting bid. So, let’s say our reserve was 49 thousand. Our starting bid we could place at 40 thousand. I have never done that and I will never do that. I mean then you are limiting yourself to one bidder. I mean if your reserve is 49 thousand and your starting bid is a dollar, and you get bidding up to 20 thousand with ten bidders, you can talk them up.
Ali: Yeah, so it is very limiting. I never do that. And automatically accepting most bidders. I never do that either. I want to know who is bidding. A lot of the time I will do my own research just to make sure they are legitimate, and if they are, I accept their bid.
Michael: I remember seeing SendGlitterToYourEnemies.com. Is that the one?
Michael: And I looked and it was like 75 thousand dollars was the high bid at one point and then it showed plus three pending offers. So, that is what that accept offers is automatically. You can either accept everybody or you can review them and click the ones you want to accept and reject.
Ali: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: Why would you ever want to reject anyone?
Ali: Well, I mean if you get somebody with a lot of negative feedback, they have complaints about not paying. I have seen maybe one or two in my time doing this and I have declined maybe one or two bidders. And usually I reach out. I am like: “Hey, can you please explain what happened?” A lot of times it is just frustration from the seller, or whatever it was that they get negative feedback. It is usually not that big of an issue.
Ali: Yeah, so from here, payment methods that you will accept. PayPal, Escrow, Flippa Escrow. And then here: require BIN bidders to use PayPal to end the auction instantly. Now, with this one, when you set it and you set a BIN, let’s say a two-thousand-dollar buy it now price, somebody clicks buy it now. They actually have to send the money through PayPal before it gets accepted or for them to close the sale. That way you are not waiting around for the money or the payment. It automatically goes to your account. Success fee is automatically taken out. And then all you have to do is begin the transfer process.
With this one, sometimes I do it one thousand dollars or less valued domains. Sometimes four thousand, depending on the buyer, but more often than not, I have never had a problem doing it.
Michael: But you could only use PayPal for domains up to five thousand dollars.
Ali: Four thousand or five thousand.
Michael: Yeah, something like that. So, if somebody clicks the buy it now for ten thousand, it would not go through PayPal?
Ali: No, it would not go through PayPal.
Michael: Okay. And then I see Flippa Escrow, which you cannot unselect that. Clearly Escrow.com we know. They are a sponsor of the show. I use them all the time. I love them.
Michael: Flippa Escrow. Why would it be advantageous to use Flippa Escrow versus Escrow.com, and who gets to choose which path is taken?
Ali: Got you. So, both buyer and seller can choose the path. So, the buyer can choose. I want to use Flippa Escrow, and we use a company called Promise Pay. They just came out. It is actually a really good company. We are working out some things with them to be able to use a brokerage option too. So, that is going to come into play real soon. And it is free. If you pay with a credit card, I think it is two percent. Do not quote me. I do not know exactly, but we are in direct contact with them and it is a company that we are working towards using more often.
And Escrow.com I generally use for big sales. I mean all the time I prefer it. I love it. PayPal I love too because it is instant money.
Michael: And so, if I specify Escrow.com, I am listing my domain name for sale, would I write in the description that winning bidder has to pay escrow fees?
Ali: Yeah, at the bottom of my description, these are my option terms. I always right it. That way I can refer to it. Hey, this is what the terms were. You agreed to it when you bought it. Payments over one thousand shall be made via Escrow.com. Fees to be paid by the buyer. That way I always have something to fall back on.
Michael: Yeah, that makes sense. All right, great.
Ali: Yeah, so from there, you click next and then you come up to the promotion page. And you have your ultra premiums, your premiums, and your standards, and then you have all your extras and add-ons and prioritizing the listings.
Michael: Geez Louise, what do I pick here, Ali?
Ali: Well, it depends. When I first started, I mean I have spent I want to say like 15 to 20 grand on ultra premiums, just banging them out because I love the exposure I got. And premiums are great. They are wonderful. The ultra premiums. I mean you get your logo and you get blasted on a newsletter. It bolds the listing title. I mean all the little things that you get from it are so advantageous. I think it was my first auction. AppDesignSchool. It ended up selling for 75 hundred. I listed it with an ultra premium, and it got so much exposure it was ridiculous.
Let me see if I can pull it up here.
Michael: What did you pick AppDesignSchool up for?
Ali: This is what started my career. So, basically I picked up about 90 domains or so for like five hundred dollars, and I went on a hand registration fiasco the night before or something and I hand registered every single domain. AppDesignSchool. AppDesignCollege. AppDesignCourse, Training, so on and so forth down the line. I mean every single one. I used GoDaddy coupons for all of them.
Michael: So, you got like 20 hours in just buying domain names with all those coupons.
Ali: Oh, totally worth it. I mean totally worth it. I will take 75 hundred for 20 hours of my time.
Michael: So, you bought 60 app design domain names, and then you put it up for sale as a package.
Ali: Yeah, I put it up for sale as a package. That was my reserve: 18 hundred.
Michael: How did you pick 18 hundred? Was that the cost of the domains, plus the cost of the ultra premium listing?
Ali: I think it was 1850, and then bidding got up to like 15 hundred or something and I lowered the reserve to 18, or maybe it was at 1850 and I lowered it to 1851. I was happy with that much profit.
Michael: And then it sold for 75 hundred.
Ali: Yeah, I mean then it got nuts. I will not go there because I do not want to expose my bidders, but it just started catching momentum and the ultra premium. The newsletter. Every time a newsletter went out, I got new bidders. And it was so beyond worth it to me, and I will do it over and over and over again because I know the type of exposure it got me.
Michael: Wow, so that is a big nut to crack. I think a lot of people would say 349 bucks. That is a lot of money to try and sell a domain name, and would take the easy way out. You are saying it takes money to make money.
Ali: It takes money to make money. I mean I made 75 hundred bucks. I walked away with six grand in my pocket. Profit. Pure profit.
Ali: What is 350 bucks? I would have paid one thousand dollars.
Michael: So, 350 bucks, plus your cost to buy the domain names, plus you paid Flippa a success fee, right?
Michael: How much was the success fee?
Ali: 750 I believe.
Michael: Okay, so ten percent of whatever you sell domain or package for.
Ali: So, I think I walked away with 5901 net profit.
Ali: Yeah, it was great.
Michael: Okay, so let’s flip back to the entry page because I see a couple of screens there. The reserve price we put in, but where do you set the buy it now price?
Ali: The buy it now price you do when you list it.
Michael: Oh, okay.
Ali: Yeah, so basically let’s see if I can go here and set a buy it now price. What do I not have a buy it now price on? Let’s just go right here. So, basically here. You come here and then add a buy it now price. So, you can click on that and just go nuts if you want, and you add the buy it now price.
Michael: Yeah, so you can set it. You can also reduce a buy it now price, right?
Ali: Absolutely, yeah, and then you go back up here. Let’s just add one. Let’s say one hundred grand or whatnot. You set it. Boom. Buy it now: one hundred thousand. You come here. Change buy it now, and then now you can change it. You can go up. You can come down.
Michael: And I see there is a change reserve price as well on the listing page right there.
Ali: Yeah, always.
Michael: Can you bring up the listing settings just so I could take a look at that again? Add a buy it now. Change reserve price. Change the end time, so you can shorten the auction I guess.
Ali: Yeah, so if you click change end time, you can come here and shorten the auction, which I have done. So, you can come down. You can change it and it will actually update and tell you when it is going to end on Australia time. So, they are a day ahead of the US.
Ali: But yes, so that is that.
Michael: Okay. Now, here is a question that I often wondered, Ali. If the bidding gets up to two thousand dollars, let’s say, and your reverse is at four thousand and the person who made that two-thousand-dollar bid is like: “Oh, I want to make it, but I do not know if I want to pay it. I will make it,” and it is under reserve, so it says reserve not met. Can you actually lower your reserve price and then it will automatically sell, because let’s say if you lower it to two thousand dollars, to the point of the highest bid, or is that not possible to do?
Ali: Oh no, no, that is not possible. The only thing that is possible is you can put it down to one dollar above the last bid, making it (Unclear 40:32.2) someone into buying it.
Michael: You cannot force somebody into buying it if they thought that they did not hit reserve. I have often wondered about that. Okay.
Ali: No, you cannot do that, but if you set it to within one dollar of the last bid, the cool thing is that it emails everyone that is watching the auction and it tells them: “Hey, the reserve has been dropped. Next bid can win.”
Michael: Got you. And I see you can add a non-disclosure agreement. If I am a buyer, can I contact you via private message and say, “Ali, I would buy that domain name for five thousand dollars, but I want a non-disclosure. I do not want that sale getting released publicly”?
Ali: Absolutely. Sure. You got it. Deal. Yeah. I actually just had that happen with a monster sale. And I wish I could rant and rave and boast about it.
Michael: You guys kill me with your private sales.
Ali: I know, right? I tried to get them to agree, but it is okay.
Michael: No worries. So, that is pretty much the entire listing process. Then it goes live, then you do your outbound sales, and then it either runs the full gamut and gets above the reserve or somebody contacts you, you initiate discussion, and you agree on a sale price. And then, if you agree on a sales price, like you did with SEO.io for 11 thousand dollars – they made an offer, you reached out to me, I agreed, we took it -, how do you complete a transaction in that case?
Ali: Got you. So, with SEO.io, the auction basically had ended I believe.
Michael: Oh, that is right. It did.
Ali: Yeah, and we were discussing the offer back and forth. I was emailing the guy, messaging him, and we settled on that. What I did was I re-listed the auction and used the buy it now feature, and then he bought it now.
Michael: So, somebody could have swooped in there and said, “11 thousand. That is a steal,” and bought it before he did.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah, they could have, but it was highly unlikely.
Ali: Because we negotiated post-auction. Now, there is a post-auction negotiation feature, where, if it ends and it is unsuccessful, you can send out an offer. And I will show you that with this guy right here. And you can view offers here. So, basically I sent out offers and it sent it out to everyone, and they are well aware.
Michael: Everybody that is watching the auction.
Ali: Everybody that is watching it, yeah.
Ali: Yeah, so that is basically the entire process that I go through.
Michael: Awesome. So, tell me about watchers, Ali. If I go to Flippa and I like what I see, I want to watch it to see if it actually sells.
Ali: Yeah, totally.
Michael: How does that watching work and what advantages does it give you as the seller when I watch it as a potential buyer?
Ali: Got you. So, the watching button is right under the bid button. And if you want to watch an auction, you get updates on the price. Let’s say somebody bids it up. It tells you: “Hey, this auction is now at ten thousand or 20 thousand.” If a comment goes down, you get an update saying there was a new comment. Only comments from the seller though, not from other parties.
Michael: Oh, okay.
Ali: If the seller responds to another party’s comment, then you get the email. And then, when the auction is ending, I think it is a 24-hour notification and two-hour notification. So, it is advantageous. Let’s say you were watching an auction and you totally forgot, and then it tells you: “Hey, 24 hours left.” You are like: “Oh man, I was going to bid on this. Now is a great time. Let me go and check on it.” So, it is super advantageous to watch it, at least from my perspective. I watch a lot of auctions. I want to know what is going on. Even if I am not going to bid on it, I want to watch it. I want to know what it sold for.
Michael: Yeah, I want to be reminded when it sells. I will watch a lot of other .IO domains to see what they sell for just so I can track it.
Ali: Yeah, exactly. It is a wonderful feature.
Michael: Yeah. Okay, very cool. And so, only when the seller posts a comment does it go out to everybody. Do you notice that that actually drives more views to the auction page? Are you able to track the number of views of an auction page?
Ali: I do not believe you can track the views of the page, no.
Michael: Okay. All right. And do you notice that when you post more comments, you get more bids because people are coming back to take a look at it, or there is no correlation?
Ali: It can go either way. Some people get annoyed, but it does. It actually does, especially when you are answering questions. When somebody comments, “I want to know about the trademark issue,” this and this and that, or whatever they ask about, reserve, and you reply to them, then it garners interest and they are like: “Hmm, I wonder what he is answering to. I will go check it out.” And more often than not, it has brought in more bids, but you have got to be careful. I mean these are people email addresses that are getting sent out to. If you are sending out 30 or 40 comments a day, you are going to be that guy and nobody is going to want to watch your auctions.
I think I did that once on one auction and I got a complaint. I was like: “Okay, you are right. I will just stop,” but yeah.
Michael: So, on Flippa, you can watch an auction to find out what is going on and be notified before an auction ends, but you can also watch a seller. And so, I watch you because I want to see what is going on. When you watch a seller, what happens? How do people get notified?
Ali: Okay, so that is one of the coolest features because you find sellers on Flippa. I did that when I first started. I found sellers that I liked. I wanted to see what they were doing and how they were doing it, so I watched it. And I believe it is every night, every morning, an email goes out if you are watching that seller. Hey, here are your favorite seller’s newest listings. So, let’s say I list ten domains today or something like that. You will get an email saying, “Casey Group has listed these domains today.”
So, you get to see. You get to always be informed about what I am putting out there, and I think that is really cool. Maybe you want to watch my auctions, bid on them, see what I am up to, yeah.
Michael: Yeah, I like to follow you and see what you are doing on Flippa, Ali. I flipped through a bunch of your closed listings. I can type in PHP.io, for example. It will go to the sale page on Flippa, at least for now, until the buyer takes control of the DNS. And then you can click on Casey Group and look at your sales, the listings that you currently have and they are sort of jumbled in with the ones that you have sold, and I noticed that a lot of them say that the auction ended up in negotiation with the buyer and it sold. How many of your auctions actually end up in negotiation for a sale price versus going to auction completion?
Ali: Not that many end up in post-auction negotiation. A lot of them, I think. I want to say like 70 to 80 percent of them are sold by buy it now.
Michael: Oh, okay.
Ali: Yeah, if I get an inbound offer, let’s say, for 11 thousand on SEO.io, I am going to throw an 11-thousand-dollar BIN price on the auction, and more of than not that is how they have sold.
Michael: And so, when you say you get an offer for 11 thousand dollars, other users on Flippa will click on your profile and send a private message to you and say, “I would buy it if you lowered the buy it now price to 11 thousand.”
Ali: Yeah. Yeah, I mean they call. They email. Somebody I was talking to before, doing outbound. Whoever it is. Inbound offer. They make the offer. We like the price. Sold.
Michael: Yeah, great. And so, what are a couple of the tactics that you use when you reach out to people who are not on Flippa, who may not have ever heard of Flippa to sell a domain name?
Ali: So, I learned that short, sweet, professional, straight shooter is the best way to do it. And I get a lot of emails, like ten paragraphs long. Hello sir, I want to sell you this name. That stuff does not work. Have a signature, have a professional domain name, and keep it short and sweet. If you are reaching out to CEOs, C-Level Executives, and VPs, they do not want to read ten paragraphs. They have got a lot of stuff to do. So, I have learned that I say this domain is on the market. Let me know if you are interested. Professional signature. Email sent. Majority of the time they will respond not interested, how much, thank you, but will pass, or they just will not respond.
But that has been a huge player in my success, just being a straight shooter. They ask how much. Sometimes I will not tell them. I will be like: “Well, what is your offer?” Sometimes I will just bang out the price right away. There is a pretty big domain I am working on, where that is being proven to be quite successful, just throwing a first number out. Just throw it out. Why not? See where that goes.
Michael: Yeah, but they could also just follow the auction. Sign up for Flippa and click watch this auction.
Ali: And that is that. Totally, yeah. More often than not, they will get directed to the auction. If they are kind of iffy about price, I am like: “Here is the auction. If you want to partake in it, go for it.”
Michael: Yeah. Now, I noticed a lot in the past you used to bundle additional domain names. Once you get to 20 days in, you may say buy it now for this price and I will throw in these additional domain names. Does bundling work?
Ali: Depends. It all depends. I mean it did with a few of my auctions. Some auctions it just does not. And I guess it all depends on the names. Let’s say you have an auction that is two thousand dollars. You want to sell it for five grand. You throw up 20 names that basically raise the value to five thousand dollars. I do not see why not. It has worked for me when I did that. But if you throw in a bunch of junk, then it is going to reduce the value of your original domain. Be like this guy is desperate. He is throwing in junk. This and that, but if you throw in some really valuable domain names, like: “Oh wow, I have got to jump on this right now.”
And I have done it quite a few times. And buying something, you get incentives. You are like: “These incentives are great. The value just went up and it is more valuable than the price is.”
Michael: So, you cannot just throw junk in.
Michael: So, how do you decide what to throw in that is not junk? Clearly you are not looking at it as having a lot of value if you are throwing it into this price.
Ali: I would want to see what I would want to see. I throw out there what I would want. Let’s say, like for WeddingCeremony.com or something, I threw in more brandable domain names that could be turned into similar business. AppDesignSchool. I mean there was 60 app design, app this, app that domains. So, if they are relative, like for SEO, if there was another 20 to 30 huge SEO domains, I could have driven the price way up. Like SEO.es or SEO.cn, or whatever. As long as they are relative, they are quality; there is no reason the price cannot be driven up.
Michael: Yeah. Now, I think we threw some domains in there, if I remember correctly. You were like: “Hey Mike, you got any other SEO related?” I was like: “Yeah. What about like SEODirectory.com?” I cannot remember what else we threw, but we picked a handful and it did not really get any interest. Right?
Ali: It did not get it any more interest. Sometimes that happens, and the people looking into it, they were dead set on that one domain. You could not take their focus off of it. That is actually a really good thing.
Michael: Yeah. So, some critics would look at your descriptions with all the exclamation marks and your bundling tactics and say that is too salesy. I do not want to do that. What is your response?
Ali: Go talk to Zig Ziglar.
Michael: That guy does not know what he is doing, right? Just one of the best salespersons in the world.
Ali: Oh man, he could talk a cat off of a fish truck. So, yeah, I mean excitement, man. I go to a dealership. I go to a retail store. I am spending my hard earned money. I want to be excited about it. And whether that is looked at as a snake oil or whatever tactics – sleazy -, it is working and it is honest, it is honorable and I feel good. At the end of the day, I feel good. I do not feel like I snaked anyone.
Michael: You did not force anybody into buying anything. Presented the opportunity and they took it.
Ali: (Unclear 53:00.2) or anything. I made you excited. You clicked the buy button.
Michael: Yeah. So, after we had the success of SEO, which a lot of people in the industry, a lot of people on the Domain Sherpa Review, the Sherpa Panel who I pulled afterwards, like great sale. I was like: “Wow, maybe I should think about selling my other .IO domain names.” So, I had picked up PHP.io less than 30 days ago. I probably should not say how much because the buyer may be watching this. For less. And you listed it for sale. And how did that auction go?
Ali: Very, very fast.
Michael: Yeah, three and a half days.
Ali: Three and a half days, yeah. I talked to a lot of people about that domain name, and there was one in particular who had made a pretty high bid and we started talking, and I told him, “What is your number? I want to know where you are at. The price is ten thousand. I am open to serious offers. If you have one, make it.” And we started talking. I got down to, I think, 75 hundred. He came all the way up from 25 hundred to six thousand, and I was like: “That is the number.” We are probably not going to see anything more than that, and I rather take money off the table than worry about leaving it on the table.
Michael: Yeah, I agree. I am much more about getting sales and looking at velocity, for some of the domain names that are investment that I am looking to sell rather than trying to get every single dollar I can out of a domain name.
Ali: Yeah, because I mean you take the profit. You reinvest it. You do it again. I mean that is what the Sherpas say all the time. They are not kidding. It works.
Michael: Sherpas do say that. So, what are you brokering nowadays on Flippa?
Ali: Oh man, I have a giant list.
Michael: What are some of your favorites?
Ali: Right now some of my favorites, I mean we are brokering Swag.com. We have Hologram.com. I mean I can go down the list. Monster domain names.
Michael: Yeah, those are monster names, and now my little SEO.io does not seem that big. What is the sales range of domains that you are selling at nowadays?
Ali: So, right now between three thousand dollars and one million dollars. I want to be able to cover the entire spectrum of budgets and needs, and I think that is the healthiest way to go about it for any brokerage, is to have domains readily available for just about everyone.
Michael: Yeah, and so Swag.com. That does not strike me as a technology-related domain name, but it could be easily turned into an entrepreneurial type of venture. Is that why you decided to take that one on as brokerage?
Ali: That is a monster ecommerce site waiting to happen.
Ali: Monster, and the price tag on it is more than fair. That can be turned into, in less than one year, a multimillion-dollar business if gone about it correctly. And Swag has multiple definitions and for me, it is like fashion. Fashion items. Urban fashion, and there are a lot of major companies out there doing that, so that domain is going to sell.
Michael: Yeah. So, are you actively taking interest on domain names from sellers?
Ali: Oh, absolutely.
Michael: That would reach out to you and use your brokerage services.
Ali: Absolutely. So, with Flippa, our brokerage service, we are getting ready to launch something big. And we are working on it right now. I do not know if it will be up by the time the show airs live, but it is a brokerage page. That way we do not flood the auctions anymore. We keep that for everybody else. We have a broker’s page where we list all of our brokerage domains. And when that time comes, we can take on pretty much as many domains as there are out there ready to sell. And right now I have a list of about two hundred that I am actively selling myself, and there is really no limit to how many I can take on, but there is a limit that we have to set as a company to what we list in public auctions.
Michael: Right, because I do not want your thousands of domains that you are brokering to flood my 350-dollar promoted domain that I am listing.
Ali: Yeah, exactly. So, I was brought on the 12th. I was hired on officially on the 12th.
Michael: January 12th.
Ali: January 12th, and we have been working on getting this brokerage page up immediately. We are backed up with domains. We have a list of some goliath names and we are looking to get this page up. That way we can get them all out there and become the next big brokerage.
Michael: Nice. So, the biggest issue, if somebody wants to brokerage with you, is can you and the seller agree on a realistic reserve price, because you do not want to spend your time if it is not going to sell.
Ali: Yeah, I mean I try. I try to talk people down.
Ali: I am really good at guessing what the domains are going to sell for. I have this sick, uncanny sixth sense for it and it seems to be right almost every time.
Michael: Have you turned people away that have unrealistic reserves?
Ali: Oh, always, yeah. I mean I am putting a lot of company time into it and if we cannot sell it, what are we doing?
Michael: Yeah. Yeah, the company does not make any money and you cannot make any money as an employee.
Michael: What is the typical commission rate for somebody that sells a domain name through Flippa, through your brokerage services?
Ali: Yeah, so Flippa brokerage. We take 15 percent commission. That includes a 30 to 90-day exclusive, whatever we discuss and settle on. That includes listing fees. That includes success fees. That includes any marketing that I do, any advertising I do on different blogs, different websites, forums, and we try to make sure that every buyer pays the escrow fee. That way, the seller literally can just sit back and collect money and does not have to worry about fees anymore. Does not have to worry about the stress of contacting every single prospect out there.
So, I mean that 15 percent. If you can get a broker to sell your domain that you thought you would get one hundred grand for and he sells it for three hundred thousand dollars, that 15 percent is not that big of a deal, so I think it is a healthy fraction.
Michael: Definitely. So, how can somebody, who is watching the show and wants to submit a few domain names to you to review and discuss reserves, get in contact with you?
Ali: All right, so just send an email to Domains@Flippa.com.
Ali: And in the subject line, put brokerage. Simple as that. Give us a list of what you have. We will take a look at it. I respond to emails all day long. And when they come in, I will make sure to get back to you.
Michael: Awesome, Ali. Domains@Flippa.com. Hey Ali, before we wrap up, what would you say is the biggest lesson learned from having sold for the past half-year plus on the Flippa marketplace?
Ali: I think the biggest lesson for me, and it is not really a sales one. It is more of a life one. Set a goal. Crush it. Do not ever give up. Believe in yourself. And to me it is all about your attitude. It really is all about your attitude. You have got to stay positive. You have got to believe that you can do it. And for me, when I started in July, I set a goal. I have a little frame. I always put a frame and I set my goal, and I type it out so I see it every day.
I set a one hundred thousand dollars sales goal, and I crushed it. I am at 350 thousand, and it was by January. So, the next one is a much larger number.
Michael: So, you will set a goal. You will set an exact number in total sales, and then you will put a timeline. Not this Friday. You will put it six months out.
Ali: Yeah, exactly. I do. I set goals and I believe that I will make it. I mean it is all about your attitude and your state of mind with anything in life.
Michael: And do you find that actually putting it on your desk and looking at it every day drives you, like: “Oh, what am I going to do to hit that goal today?”
Ali: Yeah, exactly. I mean it is a nice, big kick in the butt. Hey, you have got a goal. Let’s get to selling.
Michael: Yeah, nice. All right, if you have questions, please post them in the comments below this video on Domain Sherpa and I will ask Ali to come back and answer as many as he can. I also encourage you, the person who is watching this interview, to get out from behind your computer, reach out to people in the industry and start making connections. Easiest way to do so is to post a comment below this video. It is easy. All you need to do is write thanks, Ali. I learned a lot from your interview. That is it. I am going to be the first to say thanks to Ali.
Ali Zandi, thanks for coming on the Domain Sherpa Show, sharing your knowledge and tactics for effectively selling on Flippa, and thanks for being a Domain Sherpa for others. You have earned your Domain Sherpa exclusive mug, Ali. It is going in the mail, buddy.
Ali: I have been gunning for that for months.
Michael: And if you want a Domain Sherpa exclusive mug, you cannot buy these. Send me an email. Do the contact us in the upper left-hand corner of Domain Sherpa. Tell me what you want to share, how you can help others by giving back, and you get an exclusive mug as well. Thanks again, Ali.
Ali: Hey, thank you guys so much. Take care.
Michael: Thanks for watching. We’ll see you all next time.
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