that managers, or better yet, owners
of businesses got most of the spoils sent
Butler down an entrepreneurial path that he
has been on ever since. "When I was
about 10 years of age I got a summer job at
a local fish and poultry market and gutted
chickens. I was paid 5
Butler and his wife Trisha
when they were both 17 years old.
(they were married at 23, have now been
for 28 years and have two sons, ages 24 and
(about 50 cents) a day, but I was
allowed to keep the eggs with no shells and
I resold those to our neighbors."
left school at the first opportunity,"
Butler contunued. "No qualifications,
so I started work as a Tea Boy with
an engineering company that was revamping
Underground Subway. My job was to order
the lunches, tea and coffee from the local
cafe. After a week in the job I realized
that I could make a good profit if I bought
the goods direct and made up the
lunches myself, negotiating with the
local butchers, bakers and newsagent. I was earning
more than my friends who were working in
hard manual conditions and even some of the
tried working for several other companies
but found he was never satisfied being an employee.
He was always looking for a way to cut out
the middle man or improve an existing
business idea, so he started launching more
enterprises of his own. "I could write
a book about the businesses I have
started," Butler said. "I have
worked as a Market Trader selling jewelry,
cosmetics and fashion accessories. I imported
goods from Hong Kong
to bypass the wholesaler and try to get the
next new gadget before others."
parents visiting one of his early
enterprises, a gallery
where he sold fine art prints he
imported from the United States.
of Butler's first big opportunities arrived
in 1990 when Glasgow was given the
title "European City of Culture."
Butler saw a chance to cash in by supplying
printed merchandise to the city's tourist
shops. He opened up his own print studio and
designed t-shirts and other promotional
goods (printed in 12 different
languages) to meet the demand. Unfortunately
a few years later he developed asthma and
the printing environment was negatively
affecting his health, forcing him to find
another way to make a living. The newly
emerging Internet would provide the
opportunity he was looking for.
web made it possible to print material
electronically - no paper, no ink and no
chemicals to inhale - and distribute that
material all over the world at a very low
cost. " I decided to look at web
development as a way to replace the
printing business and took a 6-week course
on building websites and learning HTML,"
Butler said. "Soon after, I came across
a website called iGoldrush.com
telling me all about domain names. I wound
up buying 6 names that night and sold
one just a week later for £1,200! That
had me hooked, thanks to Edwin
who owned the site at the time." (Editor's
note: Edwin Hayward was
the original owner of iGoldrush.com.
He later sold the site to Paul Goldstone who
continues to operate it today).
of the Glasgow 1990 T-Shirts
produced by Butler's print studio.
obsession with domain names continued to grow and
today he said he has about 300 .com domains
and 800 .co.uk domains (Great Britain's
country code). Butler recalled, "One of the
first names I bought was LocalWebsites.co.uk
because I thought at that point that the market
would be local and not global. I also bought up
several names representing Glasgow products and
services like GlasgowAccountants.co.uk,
was not content just to own domain names though - he
always had something bigger - domain development -
in mind. "I have always believed that a domain
name should have a website, maybe because I
had done the web development course," Butler
said. "My strategy has always been to buy clusters
of domain names rather than just a single name.
I felt I could add value to the domains by
having networks of products, services or geo
locations and therefore I did not want just to have
them parked. I wanted to see them fully
Cohen Of Telepathy Inc. sold
Glasgow.com to Butler in 2003.
|Butler continued with the
story of how he came to own his crown jewel
- Glasgow.com. "Because we had bought
up the product and services names related to
Glasgow, the final piece of the
jigsaw in my strategy was Glasgow.com.
This was the number 1 name for the
city in which I live so I started
pestering the owner, Nat Cohen of Telepathy,
Inc., to sell it to me! He finally gave
in after two years of me bombarding
him with calls!"
Butler took ownership of Glasgow.com in 2003
at an undisclosed price. "When we
purchased the name it seemed like a huge
gamble, but it was the final piece of the
puzzle and we realized that Geo location
domain names were going to be highly
sought after. We felt that we needed to take
the chance and we have no regrets,"
Having assembled the portfolio of domains
that he needed, Butler turned his attention
to the hard work of making his development
dream a reality. Development can be
frustrating, expensive and worst of all, unprofitable
if it isn't done right. We asked Butler, who
now has dozens of successful sites
online, how he navigated the land mines that
have blown up the plans of many other would
of all, costs are kept to a minimum,"
Butler said, "The key is the back
end system that I have had developed
that allows me to modify and have more
control of the sites I have built. Therefore
the biggest cost was the development of the
back end system.
That was a case of trial and error
- the biggest cost was the time and
energy to keep the projects functional.
We have had prima donna web developers who
think that they can hold you to ransom, so I
understand it is difficult to find those special
people, but we are happy with the developers
we have on board. We still always have to keep
tabs on the progress though."
"The sites we
are building are being built to allow us to
target specific markets with a view to
advertisers being able to place ads on a
network of sites that are strategic to their
business," Butler said. "Depending
on the product/market/location, the sites
can be adapted to be anything from a five-page
mini site to a 30-page (or more) directory
site. Content can be refreshed as the site
develops. An example would be GlasgowAccountants.co.uk.
Accountants may want to advertise their
services on this site, but they may also
want to advertise on GlasgowBuilders.co.uk
for potential clients as well as advertise
on the main site of Glasgow.com."
March 2012 Butler was invited to
speak to businessmen at the SPEA
Conference in Ayia Napa, Cyprus
about promoting geo locations online.
walking part of the West Highland Way,
a 98-mile walk from Milngavie in the
to Fort William in Scotland's Highlands.
example would be Milngavie.co.uk.
This is a small town on the outskirts of
Glasgow and we are testing out a system that
allows retailers to upload their products
without the expense of a fully functional
e-commerce site. Obviously as the
advertisers come on board then the sites
will expand," Butler explained.
what he has accomplished to date, Butler has
much bigger plans for the months
ahead. "Other networks that I
have developed or have plans to develop
include six salon sites, 10 dental sites, 30
jewelry sites, four furniture shop sites,
seven optician sites, 40 car sales sites, 54
pub/club/restaurant sites, 300 UK Hotel
sites, 150 car hire/rental sites, 200 sites
relating to Glasgow, 150 Scottish sites and
300 shopping sites and 18 Geo location
sites. I have a team of freelance designers
working on different projects and with a bit
of luck we will have them completed by March
2013," Butler said.
Butler is building his empire on .com and .co.uk
domains he is also aware that ICANN's new TLD
program may eventually produce new competition
for current geo domain owners. Extensions like .paris
and .berlin have aleady been applied for and
some day there could be a .glasgow. Butler
My opinion is that the Geo
extensions could be successful, but only for
really large cities. I think that this will
also strengthen the geo .com names for
the geos that do not have their own TLD extension -
especially if the .com is a fully developed site. I
think some of the new TLDs might struggle as
it will be dependent on cost and availability of
has applied for its own TLD .scot,"
Butler noted. "I think it is great that we have
applied for it but again it will depend on the cost
if it will be successful or not. Most businesses in
at present use .co.uk or .com.
Scotland is unique, but the population is only 5
million and if you narrow that down to the businesses
then I am not sure what the uptake will be,
especially when you consider different European
languages where Scotland is known as Ecosse,
Escotia, Schottland etc. Is .scot the
right extension? I am not sure," Butler said.
all of the balls he currently has in the
air, free time is scarce but Butler is
hoping that he and his wife of 28 years, Trisha,
will have time to get away more in the
future. "Like most domainers I never
really switch off," Butler said, "
but I would love to be able to have time to travel
and hope one day to be running my
business totally from my iPhone."
recently visited Los Angeles for a
couple of days while on my way to New
Zealand and also spent two nights in Hong
Kong on my way home. I also enjoyed a
trip to Toronto and I would love to
have more time to see and explore some of
these fantastic locations. My last trip was
Valencia, Spain for the 2012
Domaining Europe Conference and
I again felt as if I would have liked more
time to relax and enjoy the culture
and Trisha Butler "chill out"
at the Ice Bar
during a trip to Auckland, New Zealand.
a common refrain among passionate domain
investor/developers who would like to see another
eight hours added to each day and an 8th day added
to each week. Of course, that's not going to happen
and their competitors in traditional media
are no doubt thankful for that. In their view
the Tommy Butlers of the world are already shaking
things up enough with the time they do