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Entrepreneurs Grind

A Brief History of Bryan Liew’s Dot-Com Buy Up

As the dot-com bubble was just starting to form in 1995, an enterprising 24-year-old named Bryan Liew saw an opportunity: internet real estate. His plan, which he achieved, was to sit on a Bunyanesque portfolio of internet domains. Wrestling.com? Liew owned it. Perfume.com? Liew’s. Brazil.com? Better make Liew an offer. The domain for any common word that could fall off a tongue was already bought and paid for by Liew, who started an e-commerce network called Communicate.com to govern his domain hoarding.


“The guy who founded [Communicate.com] had bought […] all of these domains, like vietnam.com and brazil.com, makeup.com and perfume.com,” Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack, explained on a recent episode of NPR’s podcast How I Built This. “The way that we thought back then was we would develop one universal e-commerce backend and then have all these domain names be the front end.”

All 400 of the domains Liew initially registered would funnel to his e-commerce site, where consumers could purchase goods or services related to the word they typed in. For example, tickets to Brazil on brazil.com or wrestling lessons on wrestling.com. “If a customer is interested in purchasing makeup, they can intuitively go to makeup.com,” Liew explained to the National Post in October 2000.

His idea was good, but only 10 of the domains had been fully developed by 2000. The business also doubled as a go-to for other businesses looking to purchase one of the URLs that Liew owned. In 2004, automobile.com, exercise.com, call.com and makeup.com sold for six figures to Manhattan Assets Corp.


The Singapore-born, Montreal-raised entrepreneur has since passed away, but Liew’s early dot-com legacy is still only talked about in tech circles. His dream, as his company name stated, was to communicate with customers and partners. He leveraged it well. “One day,” he told the Post, “We can be meeting with Sugar Ray Leonard and the next day conference calling ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage or Jennifer Lopez, because our sites include boxing.com, wrestling.com and dance.com respectively. That’s very exciting.”

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Entrepreneurs Grind

#TheUnknownHustle: Alibaba Founder Jack Ma

Jack Ma had a rollercoaster career before launching China’s answer to eBay, the e-commerce giant Alibaba. For nearly every job he applied to, including a position in the police academy and at KFC when it first opened in China, Ma was rejected.


Twice he failed his entrance exam to study at the Hangzhou Teachers College. In 1988, he graduated, but still couldn’t find his way into the profession. “When I graduated from university, for three years I [applied for jobs at] universities. Thirty times I got rejected,” he told Charlie Rose in 2015.


Among those to rebuff the entrepreneur? The prestigious Harvard University. He applied a whopping ten times to no avail. “Oh, by the way I told you that I applied for Harvard … Ten times rejected,” he added. “I told myself some day I should go teach there.” While he taught English for several years following his graduation, he later quit teaching and co-founded Alibaba.com in 1999 with $60k from friends and investors. It’s now the fifth-largest internet company by revenue. Ma is personally worth about $40 billion.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

#BossWednesdays: Sophia Amoruso

What started off as an online eBay store based out of Los Angeles quickly turned into a fashion gold mine for Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso.


The entrepreneur “slayed” her way into the fashion world as she turned her Nasty Gal fashion line into an e-commerce powerhouse. Launched in 2008, the store consisted of selling used vintage clothing and accessories that she would find and sell for a markup. Amoruso was able to translate a huge following on social media into massive sales, and Nasty Gal’s online store revenue increased from $223,000 to $23 million in a three-year span between 2008 and 2011.


Dubbed the “Cinderella of tech” by the New York Times, Amoruso went on to pen an autobiography aptly titled #GIRLBOSS. Netflix adapted the autobiography into a television show. Along the way, she experienced some minor setbacks, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy right after stepping down as CEO of the company. But companies saw the potential of her brand and she was able to bounce back. Boohoo Group purchased Nasty Gal for $20 million, and Nasty Gal remained in Los Angeles and continued to produce apparel, shoes and accessories under its own namesake label.


Recently, she helped launched GirlBoss Media with the aim of creating content for entrepreneurial female hustlers. Her swag, ambition and drive are why she is this week’s “boss lady” for #BossWednesdays.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Podcast: Danny Meyer

In the debut episode of ONE37pm’s Live From The Bar Cart podcast, we talk with legendary restaurateur and Shake Shack owner Danny Meyer.

Meyer drops wisdom and reveals the cocktail he named after his father and the new NYC venues (Manhatta and Tacocina) he’s opening this year as the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group.


Want to hear more from this episode? Listen here.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Wax Surf Co. Founder Tyler Jorgenson on the Joy of the Side Hustle

Tyler Jorgenson turned his lifelong love of surfing into a side hustle while living in Brooklyn in 2010. He formed Wax Surf Co. after seeing a need for someone to design and shape boards specifically for East Coast conditions ​(aka: gnarly waves) ​and with a more urban style sensibility (think: black and white, not neon-bright).

The former U.S. Marine and architect now works as a creative director for a real estate developer and lives in Los Angeles, but continues to make two to three custom boards a week for clients who hear about him through word of mouth or see his boards in stores like Ride Surf + Sport in Japan and Lone Wolfs Objets d’Surf in Venice Beach. His workshop is a 20-foot-long shipping container that sits in his backyard.

“Wax Surf is a conduit for me to escape reality. And that’s always what it’s been. I think if it was a full-time job I wouldn’t appreciate and enjoy it as much as I do. That said, it’s not any less a real business.”

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Ryan Hoover on How Diversifying His Personal Network Bettered Him—and His Business

Since starting Product Hunt, a sort of Reddit for new apps and services, Ryan Hoover has become a rising king-maker in the world of startups.

But he’s also taken the uncommon step of consciously diversifying his personal social network, which, in turn, has increased his exposure to ideas and backgrounds different from his own.

Last year, Hoover went so far as to conduct an inventory of his Twitter followers, CRM-style, and found that 79 percent were men and 85percent were white.

Here’s more from Hoover…