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September 19, 2018

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
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The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Photos & Highlights from the Final Day of the 2018 MERGE! Conference in Orlando

The 2018 MERGE! conference concluded Tuesday (September 18) at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Hotel at Disney Springs, just outside of Orlando, with a fourth and final full day and night of activity (you can check out the day 1 photos and highlights from Saturday here, Sunday's day 2 highlights here and Monday's day 3 highlights here).

Above & below: The closing day of MERGE! began Tuesday with an excellent keynote address called Bootstrappers Do It Better from Subbly.co CEO Stefan Pretty. Subbly is an innovative subscription ecommerce platform and Stefan is a renowned bootstrapper who knows how to make the most out of every dollar you can muster to build your enterprise. A lot of people have great business ideas but little to no capital to make them a reality. Pretty, who hails from Scotland, detailed how he has been able to start  a business from nothing and make it a success.

Above & Below: .CLUB Founder & CEO Colin Campbell continued the start-up theme in the next session - What Makes a StartUp Successful? It is something Campbell has done more than once and something he and .CLUB is attempting to help others do with their StartUps.club program that allows developers to pay for a premium domain over time. Whether or not you need a new domain for your business idea, you should check out this flyer Colin handed out that summarizes the successful startup cycle he has used, covering the steps from Start to Scale to Exit and Repeat. 

Above & below: at 11am Tuesday, MERGE! Co-Founder Ray Neu (standing above), moderated a session on ccTLDS - Their Utility, Value and Benefit. The panelists were (left to right below) Roelof Meijer, CEO at SIDN (operated of the Netherlands .nl extension) and Peter Maxymych, the Founder of eMall.ca and a pioneering investor/developer of Canadian .ca domain names.

Above:  In the last session before the Tuesday lunch break an expert panel covered DotBrands in 2018 - DotBrands and Corporate Domain Portfolios. The discussion featured (left to right) Jochen Kieler (BrandIT), Mike Rodenbaugh (Rodenbaugh Law), moderator and MERGE! Co-Founder Jothan Frakes, Cole Quinn (Microsoft Corporate Domains) and Martin Kuechenthal (CEO, Lemarit).

Above: While grabbing a cup of coffee from the Exhibit Hall coffee and dessert table before the afternoon sessions began Tuesday, I ran into the guys from Siteplug.com who had sponsored the MERGE! Welcome Party Sunday night. Unfortunately, they didn't get to attend their own party due to being delayed in getting to the hotel!  Lavin Punjabi (at right) is the CEO and Co-Founder of the direct advertiser domain monetization service and we wanted him to know his party was a success!

Above: Business resumed Tuesday afternoon with a 2pm session in which Norman Farrar (AKA the Amazon Growth Guy) shared what he has learned running Soap.club and several successful eCommerce, Shopify and Amazon stores. Since the early 1990s, Norman has been involved with a multitude of businesses ranging from corporate identity, manufacturing, specialty packaging, and consulting to consistently generate millions of dollars in sales for himself and his clients.

Below: At 3pm Karla Campos and Paul Brinkman took the stage to cover Content the Media Way - Content that Attracts and Keeps Viewers. Karla is a popular Latina entrepreneur mom, influencer, and author. She has been featured on several media outlets including Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, NBC6, La Maxima, and Telemundo. Karla founded Social Media Sass and the Entrepreneur Moms Club with the mission of helping moms through the journey of entrepreneurship. You can connect with her on social media at @SocialMediaSass. Paul is a business journalist who has spent ten years covering the business news in Florida and, as a blogger, he is known for his in-depth investigative work.

Above: One of the conference's most lively sessions was a 4pm Debate - .Coms Vs. New gTLDs - How Are they Stacking Up. It featured the always frank Gregg McNair (Group Chairman, Premium Traffic Ltd), at right above, making the .com case while .ICU registry Co-Founder Kevin Kopas (left) took the new gTLD side with moderator Jothan Frakes caught in the middle of the crossfire!

Above: Gregg McNair is convinced time spent on anything other than .com is time wasted and minced no words as to why he feels that way. 

Below: Kevin Kopas, who worked for the Public Interest Registry (administrator of .ORG) before co-founding new gTLD registry .ICU, told attendees why he believed in the future of new gTLDs and is putting his money where his mouth is. 

Above: The final business session of MERGE! 2018 - CEOs Discuss the Future of the Industry - featured an all-star lineup. The panelists (including CEOs, founders and other top level business leaders) were, from left to right Colin Campbell (.CLUB), Kevin Kopas (.ICU), Norman Farrar (Soap.club), Gregg McNair (Premium Traffic Ltd), Chad Bennett (Heroic.com), moderator and MERGE! Co-Founder Jothan Frakes, Jochen Kieler (BrandIT) and Stefan Pretty (Subbly.com). Their insight closed the show on a productive and positive note. 

After an impressive launch last year, MERGE! made a lot of progress this year with a new venue that has a perfect layout for a conference and an even more ambitious agenda that gives attendees access to information on a wide variety of today's hottest Internet business topics, from domains to development, cryptocurrency to ecommerce options to security and beyond. We appreciate the work Co-Founders Jothan Frakes and Ray Neu have done to create this valuable learning and networking opportunity, as well as the tireless efforts of conference veterans Howard Neu and Barbara Neu who supported them by doing everything they could do to make sure every attendee went home happy with a new circle of friends and connections to help them start or improve their own online enterprises. It was, as it always is, time that was very well spent.

(Posted September 19, 2018)

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