Newbie Founder/Entrepreneur trying to find his way

I’m a newbie to this game, (call me ‘fresh meat’)…15 years ago, I rolled the dice and decided to go into the domain business. At the time, I was working as a janitor at a hospital. I had read an article about the college kid who registered and sold it to BOA for $3M. Thought that was a pretty neat trick, and decided to go and do likewise. I put a pot of coffee on, broke out the yellow pages and my thesaurus and ended up registering 50 of the best domains I could conjure. (This was back during the .com boom, so there were still some good ones out there).

Over time, I had to let most of them go…I did sell one, and recouped about 3/4 of my initial outlay. But I hung onto my two best brands. Fast forward to 2014. Finally pulled my head out of my @ss, and decided to start my own business. Started doing some research on the market, and couldn’t believe how stupid I was for just sitting on these! Ugh…

Without divulging the actual brands, suffice it to say that my best domain is the .com of an entire segment of the healthcare industry. The market itself, that this .com represents, (quite perfectly, I might add…), generates $225 billion in annual revenue to doctors and hospitals all across America. I knew it had great potential, I just didn’t know how much?

I’ve been offered a good deal of money for this domain, but once I started looking into it…I began realizing it’s true potential. So I turned them down flat…

My problem is…I’ve never started a business like this before. I began by approaching some doctors who worked at the hospital where I worked. And most simply couldn’t believe that I even owned this brand…(being a lowly janitor, and all). So I approached the marketing dept. at the corporate level, to see if they would be interested in helping me develop this into a business? The VP of marketing got back with me immediately, and after asking a few questions, told me that the company wouldn’t be interested in any type of joint venture, but would I be willing to sell it? I said, sure…give me a couple of days to shoot you a price, and I’ll get back with you. When I came back with a figure that I was comfortable walking away with…the deal fell apart. But that’s okay.

The entrepreneurial learning curve is steep for me…but doable. So here’s my question…I’m sniffing around this local startup accelerator. They are focused strictly on healthcare. My research indicates that a prominent local VC is bankrolling this; and the intent is to bring a few startups up to speed, and then cherry-pick which ones they want to bankroll. My concern is…I don’t want to lose my company. They offer $100k in seed, 3 months of building a team and fleshing out your business model, and then they take 7.5% of your equity. Plus another 2% to 4% for the 2 to 5 ‘mentors’ that they assign to your team. That’s potentially 27.5% of my equity before I even get out the gate! There is also every reason for me to think, that they wouldn’t want someone with my background, running this business. (I was actually told this by another very successful VC, who was nice enough to meet with me, and discuss it). This scares the sh*t out of me!

This is my one best shot at building a multi-million dollar company, and I feel like I’m climbing into a tank full of hungry sharks, with Lady Ga-Ga’s meat dress on! I’m approaching an attorney, with experience in startups and VC financing; but don’t have the money to pay him. So I’ll have to offer him some kind of equity deal, for his continued advice.

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.


  • If I understand you correctly, you believe that having a domain name equates to being able to build a multi-million dollar business doing…what?

    If you have no idea what you are trying to accomplish, it is far from clear to me that you’re going to be able to accomplish it.

    Are you trying to be lead generation? Consulting services? SAAS? Information/ad serving?

  • Just sell your domains already. A domain is very valuable to existing multinationals who already have a strong brand compared and pretty much worthless to a startup (a good domain name won’t make or break your company). If you got a $1m investment you wouldn’t use a large chunk of it to purchase a premium domain name either, so that tells you all you need to know.

    A lot of accelerators are a complete waste of time. A “mentor” with a few percent equity isn’t going to be seriously committed to your business, so an accelerator that structures their deals this way is kind of suspect.

    Don’t waste your money on an attorney. No good one is going to accept equity in a hypothetical startup as payment anyway.

    It’s a complete mystery why you want to do a startup in the healthcare space in the first place, aside from the domain name you already own. You didn’t talk about product, or a team, or market insights you have. You’re on a road to lose everything, and you will only have yourself to blame.

    • ‘Fresh-meat’ here…

      I appreciate the comments, (especially the tip about I realize it’s difficult to give meaningful feedback, not knowing which domain I’m referring to, or understanding the business I’m entering. So here it is, The domain is currently redirected to my twitter page…

      The reason I’m going into the healthcare space with this startup is this…

      BetterDoctor raises $10M more for health-provider referral platform
      Doximity raises $54M to bring its network to every US physician
      Grand Rounds takes another $40M for expert doctor referral service

      Physician Referrals account for nearly 40% of the $500 billion in doctor’s visits that occur every year. They are the life-blood and currency of America’s healthcare system. It’s what puts patients asses in doctor’s waiting rooms…It’s what keeps America’s $1400 per night hospital beds occupied. It’s how general practitioners and specialists market their services to one another…

      Why am I going into the healthcare business? Really…?

      Now you know…

      • I’m sorry, but your domain name is not worth anything. (with an s) is active. (with a hyphen) is available. I could buy it right now, like anybody else and become your competitor…

        Your domain name would have a little value if and only if you owned absolutely all variations on the theme. And even in this case, the owner of and could create a site. Of course, and are already in use, by different owners. Variations with hyphen are also reserved. This is totally hopeless.

        You are the only one who think there is any value in this particular domain name, because you own it. Maybe you could sell it a few thousand bucks if you find the right client for that, but that’s all. I’m afraid you only own a pipe dream…

      • BetterDoctor has Ari Tulla, former head of Game and App Studios @ Nokia plus Tapio Tolvanen, chief architect for Meego platform, plus $12.6M in funding to date.

        Doximity has Jeff Tangney, former founder of Epocrates which turned a $35M series B into a $293M acquisition and has raised $71M between Series B and C thus far.

        Grand Rounds has Owen Tripp, founder of and $41M (+$10M prior to renaming) in funding.

        So we have a play with a strong tech founder competitor, another with a strong medical startup background/SME plus a large exit, and a third with a large successful internet company.

        How do you compare with these founders?

        Do you expect to get any technology, operational, or subject matter credibility whatsoever when you put these comps up before prospective investors?

        Have you done any research whatsoever?

      • I dont understand how what you are suggesting you are doing is a “startup”, let alone any form of business, at best its an investment move you made.

  • tough scenario – you don’t have the background or sales experience. You truly need the accelorator. You also need a team….

    If I were you, I would hire a ceo. Don’t worry about the equity as 27% of 225 million is much better than 100% it 1million. Stick closely by them and learn the ropes. Next company you can be picky about equity.

    • You’re right…and I understand the need for assembling the best team possible, to make this project successful. I am certainly open minded regarding the possibility of going the accelerator route. But I intend to guard my equity in this project, like a fat kid guards a piece of cake. Simply because an opportunity like this doesn’t come along every day. Maybe once in a lifetime…for someone like me. I can’t afford the luxury of being stupid about this. That’s why I came here…to tap into some entrepreneurial expertise. And it’s not a $225 million dollar market…it’s $225 billion per year, that changes hands due to Physician Referrals. I think there’s room for a modest revenue stream to help facilitate that process, don’t you?

      • Look its like you own a land in the middle of two towns and you want to start a railroad company. I really don’t think it will end up well.

        Before you make the leap on starting a business you have zero domain knowledge in, I suggest spending sometime on something that you have at least “some” idea of and that’s domain monetization.

        You don’t have to sell your domain to make money. You can simply set up a website and serve as a referral traffic for hospitals, medical schools etc. I’d recommend starting there, THEN maybe one of the people you partner with on the deal side might want to do something with you and you go that direction.

        Here’s a decent article (I just googled domain parking monetization):

        Good luck… but yeah, DON’T START A HEALTHCARE COMPANY. You will regret it.

      • If you are lucky, you will get $10m per year. Now I’m asking you now, rather earn $5m per year… Or see $110k per year because you wanted to guard equity? Hint: 110k is you being greedy… Either way, if you’re so concerned about your precious equity, just make sure you retain 51%. It means nothing until you exit anyway.

  • This isn’t what you want to hear but odds are stacked way against you. An idea is nearly worthless in this industry, everything will hinge on your execution. Also, your idea is not unique or new. You have a small piece of what is needed, but it is only needed once you have a product and team built.

    Here is an analogy. I don’t know anything about the janitorial business or client acquisition of one. But it would be like me saying, man, i have this really great billboard location, i think i could put up a sign and start a cleaning company where we go into businesses and clean for them. I’ll be totally rich.

    There is a very good chance i would fail because i have no idea what i’m doing.

    Your domain name is like a billboard, only the bad thing is that it is completely industry specific. It’s like a billboard that can only advertise for one industry.

    Why don’t you look at renting your billboard with an indefinitely renewable lease. At least then you would have some of the recurring revenue you are wanting.

    • I appreciate the comments. I don’t agree with all of them, but I do appreciate them. These are some of the very same issues I’ve been dealing with since I started this company.

      “All you have is an idea, and a domain name/brand…” Well, yes…and no. I’ve also assembled a database of all the Physician referral sites I can find. And while the idea may not be unique, (i.e., every hospital, medical association, and insurance company also offers a database of affiliated physicians). I do have the luxury of being able to offer all of these entities, an additional outlet, where they can market their services further.

      And I agree, I do need to assemble a good management team; and refine my business model. But these things are doable. I don’t have to know every single nuance of finance, IT, marketing, etc…to build an effective company. I just need to find the right people, who are able to grasp how important physician referrals are, to the healthcare market space.

      One competitive advantage I do have, over the 3 companies listed above, is the relevance of my brand. I disagree with the comment that I need to own every single iteration of this domain. (plural and hyphenated versions, .net .org. .info?) Give me a break. The relevance is there, a simple Google search, will tell you this.

      As far as my track record goes, of not having led a previously successful startup, followed by a $200M exit? Well, you got me there, brother…but everyone has to start somewhere. I’m starting right here…

      How do I compare, with those other founders? Hell, I’m a nobody…but that can change. I have to believe that here in America, there is still room for someone like me. If a janitor with a high school education, can take an idea and turn it into a profitable healthcare company? That means something. That’s an accomplishment I can be proud of. It’s the American dream, baby! And that, my friend…is a selling point, not a disadvantage. It’s a media angle that I intend to utilize, because it has the distinct advantage of being the truth. (Everybody loves a Cinderella story…) And that equates to free advertising for my company. It’s David and Goliath man, and that makes for some compelling copy.

      Hell, I can hire incredible managers, and marketing gurus, and cats with IT genius. And I know there’s capital out there, to help me hire these folks. Angels that want to take advantage of the current disruption in healthcare. I just need to find them, by getting my story out there. (See the previous paragraph).

      But I’m not above bootstrapping this project. Hell, I’ve been living that concept, my entire adult life. It forces you to be frugal and creative. I’ve got the data…and there are many excellent companies now, who focus exclusively on building websites for doctors. There’s no reason I can’t strike a deal with one of them, to build me a site; in exchange for sending them a flood of new business, while taking a cut? There’s my MVP…creating a space where doctors, dentists and hospitals can market their services to one another.

      There are also about 1400 companies out there who design EMR’s (electronic medical records). These are potential customers as well. In fact, every company that sells a product or service to physicians, is a potential customer. Hospitals, software vendors, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, not to mention people just looking for a doctor. There’s no lack of a market here.

      As far as this business being too ‘industry-specific’? Well…I guess I can live with that…a $225 billion per year market, is big enough for me.

      Once again, thank you guys for all your insightful feedback…I appreciate it.

      • The issue with being a nobody isn’t that you cannot accomplish something, the issue is that you don’t have instant credibility which translates into hiring people, raising money, etc.

        Absolutely, it is very possible that anyone can do anything. However, the reality is that doing anything is a hell of a lot more difficult when you’re trying to do it in the face of multiple well funded, strong technology, and/or SME competitors.

        If you believe that you can build sufficient traction such that you can make more money operating your domain name as a referral business as opposed to just selling it for cash, then best of luck.

        Trying to build sufficient traction to be purchased by one of the above companies is a perfectly legitimate business model, but you’ll have to flesh out the team, the operational plan and budget, the fundraising, etc.

      • “Brand” really doesn’t mean anything. Execution and relevance of the business mean everything. The words Uber, Starbucks, Spotify, etc. don’t mean anything…the companies they built created the brand, not the other way around. Figure out the business concept, align it with the domain name if you can, start collecting data, an then you’ll be on your way to something.

  • Since you asked? Here is the business concept…

    I want to offer a forum where doctors can network, and market their services to one another. A place where hospitals, medical supply manufacturers, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies can expose their brands to physicians and the healthcare consumer.

    My goal is to provide a private, online (HIPPA compliant) space, where physicians and specialists can consult with one another, over a patient’s care. (For doctors only). I intend to provide a secure infrastructure where physicians can upload X-Rays, medical records, cat scans/MRIs, and lab results; allowing them to confer with each other in real-time, without having to resort to faxing, returning phone calls, and dealing with paperwork.

    This service can be tailored to fit the individual needs of every in-network hospital, Accountable Care Organization and insurance company I do business with.

    I intend to offer the most comprehensive database of physicians and dentists available. And provide marketing expertise, web design and digital media consulting to individual doctors and dentists. Physicians want to focus on what they do best…take care of their patients. I want to make that job easier for them.

    Also, Doctors are constantly trying to keep up-to-speed, on the latest medical breakthroughs and healthcare policy trends; I intend to help them, by providing news and compelling content that is both timely and relevant…to help them grow their practices.

    In utilizing an instantly recognizable brand, ( I intend to revolutionize the entire Physician Referral process. And make a butt-load of money, by doing so.

    There it is…

    • Your desire to create the Google or Yahoo of medicine is admirable.

      As an investor, I’d be asking a large number of questions including:

      1) what are the federal, state, and or medical industry regulatory issues that may be involved with advice to physicians?

      2) how will you handle the potential civil legal implications of such practices? In particular, lawsuits arising from recommendations accessed through your service?

      3) what is your operational experience and/or expertise in maintaining the availability, reliability, and security of medical records?

      4) what is your experience/expertise in building relationships with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, medical supply companies, and insurers?

      Quite frankly, your desire to do something is admirable, but it is far from clear your ability to execute is proportionate.

      • 1) what are the federal, state, and or medical industry regulatory issues that may be involved with advice to physicians?

        Answer: The applicable laws involved include HIPPA, and the Federal Anti-kickback statutes. I’m not sure what you mean by giving advice to physicians, as I will merely be providing the vehicle for them to consult with one another, on a HIPPA compliant platform. I won’t be making any referrals myself. That’s for the physicians themselves, to decide. The intended service I’m wanting to provide, would simply make his/her job easier to accomplish that. Think of it this way…Let’s say I’m a software developer who comes up with a new email program. Am I responsible for the content of those emails between my users? No. My job is to simply get those messages from point A, to point B…in a secure/reliable manner.

        2) how will you handle the potential civil legal implications of such practices? In particular, lawsuits arising from recommendations accessed through your service?

        Answer: This is what incredible attorneys are for. I intend to vet every aspect of this project through my legal team, before going public. (when I can afford them).

        3) what is your operational experience and/or expertise in maintaining the availability, reliability, and security of medical records?

        Answer: Zero/Zilch/Nada…Again, experts in secure Healthcare IT can/will be hired to provide that aspect of this service.

        4) what is your experience/expertise in building relationships with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, medical supply companies, and insurers?

        Answer: I’ve worked in healthcare for 33 years. (As a janitor, mind you…) But I was there! No seriously, there are people out there who are a LOT smarter than me, who can fulfill those roles. I intend to hire the best, and compensate them accordingly.

        Quite frankly, your desire to do something is admirable, but it is far from clear your ability to execute is proportionate.

        Answer: Well, that remains to be seen..

        I truly appreciate your input! It allows me the chance to think through some of the potential pitfalls, I’m bound to encounter on this journey. You had some legitimate concerns, and I hope I’ve answered them to your satisfaction.

        Thank you again…

        • “Quite frankly, your desire to do something is admirable, but it is far from clear your ability to execute is proportionate.”

          Hey. I’m just going to tell you a little story about my job–I work in the online marketing division of a JCAHO healthcare staffing firm (not physicians, though, but nurses + allied health).

          I was originally hired to take care of a nursing website that the staffing firm acquired a few years ago to generate leads. One of the founders of that website, who became the VP for Community after the acquisition, used to be a recruiter for nurses. As for the site, well, it was originally designed as a community portal for nurses–its original incarnation had a nursing job board, a forum, a nursing school guide, and a bunch of videos and articles about nurses.

          So far, so good, right? You have someone with lots of industry knowledge at the helm.

          Well, that was what we all initially thought.

          Because she wasn’t an IT expert, and she wasn’t even into that aspect of the business (she’d often dismiss it as “I’m not a tech person, can you handle that for me?”), she got misled by the web development firm that were tasked to upgrade the site. We ended up with a half-baked site that didn’t have the forums, which led to a lot of the old membership leaving the site. And in her efforts to stem the exodus of members, she went in haphazardly, requesting the in-house IT guy to implement various bells and frills that only messed up the site more.

          In short, she lost sight of what the site was all about, and that hurt the site in the long run. Eventually, upper management had to let her go (and it became some sort of joke in the office: how can she be VP of Community–how can we be a community website–without any forum functionality???).

          Now, I’m not saying you should forget your idea simply because you’re a janitor.

          What I’m saying is that yes, you will need to hire experts; but you will also need to 1) strive to learn more about the core business–enough to communicate well with the experts you’re dealing with, at least, and enough to help steer the startup in the right direction–and 2) do a good level of due diligence before hiring people.

          Also, speaking of HIPAA, you should read this:

          “Within the care continuum, HIPAA makes it clear that PHI should be shared with as few providers as necessary, and only to the extent required for each provider to fulfill his or her role, so nurses may have access to a different portion of the patient record than physicians have access to. It also strictly prohibits using PHI or making it public for marketing purposes without a signed release form from the patient.


          We’ve all heard stories about hospital employees being fired for looking at the charts of people they did not directly care for, perhaps out of curiosity regarding a celebrity or local public figure, or through the temptation to “just browse” to pass the time. One nurse wrote on a forum that she thought this behavior was okay because she wasn’t sharing that information with anyone. Yet it is still a violation of the minimum necessary standard, which dictates that PHI should not be accessed or shared at all unless it is necessary to satisfy a particular function of care. Some healthcare facilities take this standard so literally that they consider it grounds for dismissal if a staff member looks at his own records, or that of his child.”

          This is also the kind of threat you’d have to guard against –

          • Fresh Meat here…

            I share your concerns regarding HIPPA, and I am keenly aware of how serious of an issue this is. I may end up revising my business model at some point because of these concerns. But rest assured, my site won’t even open it’s doors, until all of the (i’s) have been dotted, and (t’s) have been crossed with regard to patient privacy.

            Like I say, I’m still fleshing out my business model, at this point; but I still think it’s possible to accomplish.

            Your advice to familiarize myself with all the different aspects of my company, is well taken. I’ve been doing so, for awhile now.

            Thanks for sharing your insights and experience!

        • With respect to HIPPA (and/or whatever other laws there might exist, which by the way are likely to vary from state to state), your answer is basically the Uber answer: I’m just a platform. However, when a malpractice suit arises due to communications on your platform, you will get pulled in. Uber has the cash to fight this type of thing, do you? What percent of fundraising or absolute value is set aside for this eventuality? Who will do the defense, and what is their track record?

          Your answer would not satisfy me as a potential investor.

          On the expertise side: how will you know who is expert in regulatory, in delivering the service, in coding the platform/website/whatever? Believing that top notch people are just sitting around waiting for your call is naive in the extreme. Again, as an investor, I’d want to see the team first – not as an action item down the road.

          You also said you will hire the best and compensate them accordingly. I very much doubt any investor will be interested in putting out tons of cash to pay multiple $250K/year employees, equally the risk in giving out tons of equity is that it both dilutes your control and makes it much harder to do the same for the next employee.

          I really don’t think you’ve put enough consideration into this, but at least you’re making a start.

  • My advice: the title “janitor” is your Achilles heel. No matter how brilliant you are, this is an issue. Your going to need a big fish… someone with an advanced degree and connections. How do you get this? You need a bigger arsenal. A good domain name is a decent weapon, but you need more… much more. Patents are your friend. Apply for them, get them, then use them as bait to reel in your big fish.

  • In case you are checking the forums, I think you should look at the site This is a guy who took an exam in the architectural industry, made a workbook for it, sold it at the price of a textbook, then re-invested his money into more online domains. He’s making at least five-figures a month and he’s very transparent about his income streams and how he made his now millions. He has a resource page, which connects you to ways to truly monetize a domain, that anyone can do and still maintain ownership. You can succeed by pivoting towards creating a network for potential patients to find doctors, to get around the HIPPA issues. I’m currently advising a client who’s concerned with similar issues in the financial industry and encouraging her to focus on personal finance. (she was shooting for investment banking clients). Another great site for people who are making money using domains alone and marketing strategies is . Monetiziaton of domains comes from either courses, events, books or affiliate income these days. It is possible to make money on domains, do it legally and do it in a way that is not spammy. It may not be a multi-million dollar idea, but you’ll have enough to start investing in other companies and financial instruments and grow your income that way.

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