A Domain Name Changed A Young Man’s Life

This is one of the most enjoyable stories that I have ever written. It has four factors that make it so:

  1. It’s about someone who is such a quiet achiever;
  2. He is a long-standing auDA Member (and a friend of mine);
  3. It involves a domain name success story;
  4. What has flowed from that initial success.

The Quiet Achiever

Steven Baxt has been around forever in the online world. As a very young man back in the early 2000’s he started investing in domain names – particularly dot-coms. He also acquired many premium Australian domains – a number of which he developed into business ideas. To give you an example, he used to own creditcards.com.au. He is your quintessential entrepreneur – but if truth be known, at heart he is a geek!

Along the way, he’s had to “lawyer up” occasionally and defend himself against people and organisations that wanted to acquire (or deprive him of) his Intellectual Property. More often than not he was successful.

He’s also a very private man, and never seeks the limelight. And he’s also one of those people whose “word is their bond” – you can go to the bank with it.

Domain Name Success Story

In around 2003 – when he was in his early 20’s – he bought the domain Robots.com via an online marketplace. He only had a certain amount of funds, so he had to decide between that and LH.com. One coin toss later, and he was the proud registrant of Robots.com!

Steve has always had an interest in electronics and gadgets, so he used this domain to develop a “build it yourself robot kit” to sell online. The kit included access to a library of Flash video tutorials with guides on how to assemble the components, plus some programming tutorials.

But just a few months into this project, before even a single kit was sold, he sold the venture to RobotWorx, a large American company who still owns Robots.com today. Unfortunately, he can’t disclose the sales price, but for a guy in his early 20’s, it was life-changing – enough for him to purchase property and his first car!

Fast Forward To The Present

Behind the scenes, Steve has been working his inner geek “magic” – or to be more specific, he has been developing a “Magic or Smart Mirror” called Embrace. Whilst he did a lot of the groundwork, Embrace’s current hardware and the final design were developed and engineered by a team in Hong Kong and China. To use Steve’s words, he describes them as “brilliant”!

So what is “Embrace”?

  • When it’s off, it’s just an elegant mirror.
  • When it’s on, it’s a high-definition, splash proof, full-featured Android™ device that you control with voice, gestures and touch.

Steve sent me a personalised video of him accessing Domainer.com.au on a “Smart Mirror”, plus quickly demonstrated all its capabilities e.g. it is just awesome for home automation. (I was gobsmacked!) To this end, Steve has set up a “demonstration apartment” in North Strathfield in Sydney which has over 40 “smart devices” connected. Anyone is welcome to go and have a look.

To get in touch with Steve, here are the contact details from the website.

Have a look at what it can do!

 

Background

The catalyst to Steve creating “Embrace” came about by him stumbling across a blog post around 3 years ago. This contained a step-by-step guide on how to build a magic mirror.

He had been searching for something interesting to build with his recently purchased Raspberry Pi (RPi). An RPi is a credit card sized computer that retails for just $10-60.

After building his first magic mirror using the RPi (in his down time as a hobby), he got loads of encouragement from family and friends. So he made another; then another – each time adding improvements.

He then realised the huge market potential for this product. To this day, a magic (smart) mirror is not available for sale from any major chain – or even readily available for purchase by consumers from mainstream websites. This gap in the market is what drove him to pursue Embrace.

Having already established engineering, manufacturing and supply partnerships in Hong Kong and China, he founded Smart Mirrors Pty Ltd in 2017. In the same year, they received formal IP65, FCC and CE certification. And as would be expected, he has a trademark in place; and a patent pending.

If you want to read about the whole design and development journey, you can do so here.

The Moral Of The Story

The road to today began with a really good domain name purchase (and subsequent sale) many years ago!

I wish Steve and his team every success for the future. “Embrace” is a fantastic concept and product. I imagine there will be some “big boys” having a close look.

Ned O’Meara – 25th January 2018

13 thoughts on “A Domain Name Changed A Young Man’s Life

  • January 25, 2018 at 11:59 am
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    Thank you Ned very much for your support! (and the glowing article!)

    If your readers have any questions I’m happy to answer them here.

    5 people like this.
  • Luke Summers
    January 25, 2018 at 12:18 pm
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    Fantastic story Ned!

    Congratulations Steven (and team) on your success to date, you’ve certainly earned it.

    Embrace Smart Mirror looks like a terrific product and I’ll be following it with interest. I think these will be very popular!

    3 people like this.
    • January 25, 2018 at 1:40 pm
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      Thanks Luke!

      Our official launch should occur within two months. We’re basically just dotting the i’s and applying the final polish as I type. If you, or any other readers are interested, we’re offering a further 15% discount on the first 100 sales and have prepared a waiting list form ( https://www.embracesmartmirror.com/shop/embrace-smart-mirror/?sg_popup_id=178 ) for anyone that wants to be notified immediately when stock becomes available.

      4 people like this.
  • Snoopy
    January 25, 2018 at 12:31 pm
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    Interesting Ned, pretty sure I have bought domains from Steven in the past.

    It is an interesting invention. I imagine the waterproofing rating would have taken a while to figure out. Would imagine this could work well in commercial and retail areas as well as houses.

    2 people like this.
  • January 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm
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    Hi Snoopy, yep I think you can be sure. I wonder what 140.com would be valued at today!?

    Embrace is certified IP65. We passed, well the factory did (they do all the engineering) the IP (Ingress Protection) rating back in April 2017. Embrace is splash proof and moisture resistant. So stealing a quote from our website, “more than a match for even the steamiest bathroom.” – Thanks for your interest!

    4 people like this.
    • Snoopy
      January 25, 2018 at 1:55 pm
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      Lol yes, I sold it too early, but that is life.

      I also remember Robots.com selling a long time ago which I would imagine is when you bought it, just looked it up and it was greatdomains. I remember this used to be a good source for buying domains as they had a high % of good names and Verisign had basically given up on the place after the dot com bust (1 employee left?).

      http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/domainsales/2004/domainsales10_12_04.htm

      3 people like this.
      • January 25, 2018 at 2:14 pm
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        Yes I bought it through GreatDomains.com and had to borrow the funds to make it happen.

        I’ll disclose what I paid for 140.com… $4000. A cheeky question, what did you sell it for? Never mind, I don’t want to know! Cheers 🙂

        Anonymous likes this.
        • Snoopy
          January 25, 2018 at 2:27 pm
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          Around 27k (at auction), this was quite a while ago now.

          2 people like this.
    • January 25, 2018 at 7:09 pm
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      I want one.

      3 people like this.
  • January 25, 2018 at 2:40 pm
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    Nice article Ned and well done Steve. This could be life changing for you and I bet it’s been an interesting ride so far.

    3 people like this.
    • January 25, 2018 at 3:40 pm
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      Thanks Don! Indeed, we’re on an interesting ride with almost daily ups and downs! For example just last weekend Amit, our CTO who is a brilliant Android ROM expert and fundamental to the project’s success, if it is to have any, was in hospital undergoing a pacemaker replacement operation. (Disclosed with his permission) – He’s a real trooper; already back to work! We’ll all give Embrace a good try; luckily the team is awesome and have been able to jump all the hurdles to date. Cheers

      2 people like this.
  • January 29, 2018 at 11:58 am
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    Kudos Steve.

    Do you have any concerns about Google or Amazon products?

    Jeff

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    • January 29, 2018 at 1:14 pm
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      Hi Jeff, thanks for your comment.

      Yes, definitely it’s on my mind. A smart mirror ties in almost perfectly with every Google product and service I can think of. I’m surprised, and relieved, that they have not come out with a smart mirror to date, as this gives us a chance to make a couple of sales in the meantime. (thanks Google! 🙂 But maybe neither company will release a mirror of their own. It’s for this exact reason I built my first; I didn’t want to potentially wait for nothing.

      Amazon appears to have plans to release one, based on their patent that was revealed earlier this month: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/03/technology/amazon-smart-mirror-patent/index.html

      One of Embrace’s main purposes is quite different to the device explained in Amazon’s patent. Embrace is currently the (IMHO) best device to serve as the main hub for smart homes, to access/control disparate devices and appliances easily. For example in my home office I use it as the remote control for Sonos, my blinds, air conditioning, lights, fans etc. And I just used it to turn the kettle on in the kitchen. Break time. Cheers 🙂

      2 people like this.

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