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Jeff Gabriel's Journey From Small Town Boy to World Record Breaking Domain Broker 

By Ron Jackson

Jeff Gabriel's journey began in the small town of Northborough, Massachusetts (about 40 miles west of Boston) where enjoyed an idyllic New England childhood made so by successful, supportive parents and grandparents. A lot of  young people take what they have for granted but early on Gabriel, who is now 35, learned that the life he had was made possible by previous generations that knew hard times and those family members planted the seeds in his mind that would later sprout into a fierce work ethic.

That ethic didn't manifest itself overnight though - in fact it didn't fully bloom until a college professor said something that made everything click in Gabriel's mind and set him on a path that would put him in the Guinness Book of World Records less than a decade after graduating. In his first domain industry job with Sedo, Gabriel brokered the $13 million sale of Sex.com in 2011 (still the biggest cash domain sale we have ever been able to verify). He moved on to Igloo.com, then into his present post as VP of Sales at DomainNamesSales.com, piling up millions of additional dollars in sales along the way. 

There were also business stops between college and his arrival in the domain world seven years ago. To fully understand how he stumbled upon this still relatively unknown industry, who he is and what drives him to succeed, let's go back to where it all began in his hometown.

"Northborough only had one or two traffic lights when I was a kid," Gabriel recalled. At the time it was a lot of old farms and woods but now it has become a developed Boston suburb and is very different."

Jeff Gabriel
Vice President of Sales

"My father is a retired attorney and his brother is still a practicing attorney today. My grandfather on my Dad's side was also an attorney as was his brother! That made for interesting conversation at the dinner table," Gabriel smiled. "My mother is a Registered Nurse. When I was a child my mother would work nights on a pediatric unit at a local hospital while my father worked days as an attorney. I also have an older sister, who is also a nurse and works in the emergency room at a Florida hospital. At the time I did not realize how lucky I was and still am. I had four of the best grandparents that anyone would hope for, grandparents that could not have been any better to me. I was lucky to have all of them until after I graduated college."

Jeff Gabriel boating with with his parents in 2008

"On my Mother’s side my great grandmother died as a result of the Spanish Influenza in New York City which caused my Grandmother to become an orphan who worked at clothing stores. Her husband (my grandfather who is still alive and is 99 years old), was part of a large Italian immigrant family. Back then Italians were considered second class citizens. He was an entrepreneur - you could probably call him more of a survivor - who never finished grade school. He made cement blocks, started a construction company, ran a factory that made bullets during World War II, made and sold tools, opened a restaurant and even managed a city dump!"

"While my  paternal grandfather was a successful lawyer, he had worked in a machine shop to put himself through law school and his wife, my grandmother, worked in a factory. Thanks to all of those family members my childhood stories are about family vacations to Disney World, or trips to the beach, or playing Little League baseball (when my dad was the coach). But looking back it was hearing the stories and seeing the hard work that my parents always did and hearing what my grandparents had to endure to get where they are today. They instilled a strong work ethic in me. That is why my sales people hear me always say “Hard work always pays off.” 

"There was one common thing that we shared as a family. We always laughed. My dad always had and still has a joke for every situation and has a personality that can make him the life of a party.  My sister and I saw that and we were always performing, putting on different masks, outfits or finding jokes or funny stories of our own to tell. My mother was the same, joining in on the fun. By seeing that and being encouraged/supported to speak, laugh, and just be ourselves by my entire family it  instilled the confidence I have in myself today," Gabriel said.

Jeff Gabriel on his High School Graduation Day

On the downside, while Gabriel's social skills were off the chart his scholastic efforts were less stellar. "I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a private school from grade school all the way through college. My sister, who is older than me, was a much better student, and a much better athlete than I was. From my early years all the way through high school I always found myself in some sort trouble. I was not doing drugs, or committing violent acts, but I brought my laughter/life of the party attitude to school with me. I did not know how to separate business and pleasure. In turn it brought bad grades and constant attention to my immature behavior," Gabriel candidly admitted. 

"At my high school they would punish people with manual labor, it was called work detail. I spent many a day after school picking up trash around campus, or washing chalkboards to make up for whatever I did. My high school years I got an A socially but my grades were C level at best."

Still, those years were not devoid of accomplishments for Gabriel and and it was then

that he was first bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. "During my high school years I was Class President and I ended up putting together my own little business for our class, selling Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in our student lounge (I got other students to do the selling, I managed it). We ended up being the richest class and were able to go on many different trips from the proceeds. I realized then I had a talent and an interest in business, but nothing I was learning in school really peaked my interest."

"It was hard because I was always compared to my straight A, Captain of the Softball/Soccer team sister by teachers, and even my parents. I don’t know if it was a good thing at the time, but my father always told me he was the same when he was in high school. Flirting with girls and smoking cigarettes behind the school was more of a priority than studying for that calculus test. It even got to a point where I had to attend summer school in order to keep up and graduate. My parents never gave up on me though. By the time I started to apply myself and get serious it was very hard to right the ship. I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth and it was a beyond proud day for my parents, sister and family and probably more of a relief for my teachers," Gabriel smiled. "Looking back, putting myself in those do or die situations made me become a survivor. I became used to being under the gun with my back against the wall."

Gabriel's parents weren't the only ones who saw something in him. He was shocked when the University of Hartford looked beyond his report card and offered him a scholarship at the Connecticut school. Still, as was the case in high school, Gabriel's inclination to be a social butterfly initially produced uneven results in college. Gabriel described how things unfolded.

"Prior to high school graduation a Senior Project was required in order to graduate. The requirement was to work at a company or place of employment for a number of weeks. I became an intern at WAAF, a radio station in Boston. I really enjoyed it, and decided to major in Communications in order to become a radio DJ when I went to University. After completing my first year at University of Hartford I was able to retain my scholarship by just .01 on my GPA. My second year was about the same. I remember coming home after my sophomore year was over 

and my father was looking at my report card and said, “If you fail out of college you are going to be picking pepper out of horseshit with boxing gloves!.” He also informed me that he would make me enlist in the Army. If he couldn’t make me a man maybe Uncle Sam could. That was all I had to hear!," Gabriel laughed.

When he returned to campus that fall he was a different man. "At the beginning of my junior year I changed majors and entered the Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford. That was when my life changed. I met Professor Harvey Goodman. Harvey was a

retired Wall Street trader who taught a class about the stock market and how the entire monetary system works. Our textbook was the New York Times. Even though we were in the Business School we were only allowed to take Goodman’s business class in the College of Arts and Sciences. The reason was Harvey did not have a Masters degree so they would not accept him as a professor in the Barney School. We asked Harvey about this and he said while interviewing with the Dean of the Business School he was asked “Harvey do you have a Masters degree? He said no. Harvey then asked the dean “have you ever made a million dollars in a day?” That’s all I needed to hear. I was hooked!," Gabriel exclaimed. 

"It was like a switch turned on in my head. I had to do this. I had to find my way and in order for me to get to that place I had to get my life together. Plus, I had to finish college in four years as well. Over those next two years I was able to take an extra class each semester, two classes over winter break and also studied during summer to finish. I graduated in 4 years majoring in Finance and Risk Management." 

"My entry into adulthood after college graduation was tumultuous to say the least," Gabriel continued. "Two of my grandparents whom I thought so highly of passed away. I didn’t really have any idea what I really wanted to do and I found myself working in a giant record storage warehouse company (the warehouse reminded me of the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark).  I managed the data entry department. It was not for me but I put some management strategies to the test."

"Every day truckloads of boxes full of records would arrive. Each box had to be categorized and entered into the system. At the end of every day we were behind. The people I managed were hourly employees who were there just to collect a check. No matter what I said or did I could not get them to work any harder. With constant pressure from upper management to increase production I told the team, “Once we are done with that pile of records out there you can go home with a full day's pay.” The workers finished the job shortly after lunch. I thought I was going to be  

Buried in paper image from Bigstock

praised for getting the job done faster than ever before instead I ended up getting fired!," Gabriel said, recalling the unexpectedly abrupt end to his first full time job. As it happens there was another U-Turn dead ahead.

"My family kept asking me if I wanted to become a lawyer, so I applied to law school. Shockingly I got in to Suffolk Law in Boston (where my Dad, Uncle, and Grandfather graduated). Since law school did not start for a number of months, the plan was I would work in a mortgage company and sell mortgages during the day and go to law school at night. While in the mortgage business I learned about property, property values, income, credit, contracts, underwriting guidelines, commissions and most importantly sales. It took me a few months to be able to grasp all of this, but I found myself being one of the top sales people."

Gabriel (seen here with wife Melissa on their 2005 honeymoon in Hawaii) learned he had a knack for closing sales when he got into the mortgage business. That ability would later help him soar to record heights as a domain broker.

"The funny thing was the first time I was the top sales person of the month I thought to myself "I really don’t have a firm grasp of what I am doing", so I immersed myself in everything there is to know about the mortgage business. A Mortgage Broker has access to many banks. Our company had access to over 50 or 60 banks compared to a local bank who only has access to their one pool. Each bank likes certain types of loans, so I used to read their guidelines and I would know which bank likes what, and most importantly what they required in order to do the deal. I also learned from appraisers, and would call underwriters to ask them what their day to day job was. I felt that I wasn’t the strongest in sales based on experience so why not be the strongest in knowledge. I learned that giving a bank too much information is not a good thing. You give them exactly what they want and make it easy for them. My turn around times were fast. The same goes with clients. You need to make it easy and when you get the “Yes” take it and run! Stop talking!" Those proved to be words to the wise that Gabriel has his staff follow to this day.

"From there I found myself in a very competitive market where our company would advertise interest rates in the newspaper. People would call in and want that particular rate and would leave you mid way through the process over $100. That was frustrating. I decided to change my strategy. Instead of selling based on interest rate I would start to ask questions and really get to know my client. If it was a refinance I would find out if they had a car payment, credit 

Mortgage money image from Bigstock

card debt and wanted some cash to build a pool for example. I would take all of those payments, bundle it up and say “How about I pay off all of your debt, get you that $20,000 you want and save you $500 a month on your mortgage payment?” I found myself selling loans to people and they didn’t even know the interest rate until they came to sign the papers. The higher the rate I sold the more money the bank would pay. I would not need to sell the most razor thin margin deals and compete with everyone because their deal was unique to them. I ended up not only having one of the highest average revenue per file in the company, but also some of the highest volume."

"By the time I figured this out I was slated to go to law school. I decided not to attend. I thought my Dad and my family would be disappointed with my decision, but they supported me. My parents always told me, “Do what makes you happy. Not what makes us happy.” That is one of the great things about them. They always support me even to this day and I speak to them almost daily. My father is a real estate attorney. One of the greatest things I did was work with him on real estate deals. To get to see your father at home is one thing, but to also share a conference room and work along side him with clients is another. I loved that!," Gabriel declared.  

Buoyed by his success in the mortgage business, Gabriel gave some thought to going into business for himself. "I actually had the license to open my own mortgage company but decided that was something I was not prepared to dedicate my life to,  so I gave the corporate world a try with a company called JobFox. It was very similar to Monster.com or Careerbuilder where people put their resumes on their site for free, and then sales people like myself would call large companies to sell access to the database of those resumes. My territory was New England. At Jobfox I learned how to research and find the key people at companies who are the decision makers, and got to understand corporation's time table on spending."

"I also made between 50-70 cold calls a day. When I got an interested company I would drive to their office and do a presentation. Some of these presentations were in front of just a few people and others were in front of fifty or sixty. I learned at this job that people/companies buy the same thing, but for different reasons. I always use the analogy of shoes. If you have three people buying the same pair of running shoes, one might buy them for their intended purpose, another might buy them because they are stylish and a guy like me might buy them because they are the cheapest!"

After Gabriel deciding against going to law school, he joined JobFox where he learned to reel in corporate decision 
- a skill that continues to serve him well as one of 
the world's best domain brokers.

While JobFox was a great learning experience for Gabriel - the Great Recession arrived, upsetting his apple cart along with that of millions of other people around the world. JobFox wound up having to lay him off. He didn't know it at that time, but career wise it would end up being the best thing that ever happened to him. The domain business was about to beckon.

"When I was laid off I was pretty lost for a while," Gabriel recalled. "I didn’t want to go back into loans and was not entirely sure what I was going to do. On top of that an economic meltdown was occurring. I spent my time looking back at companies that I had either given  presentations to or had called because they had interesting business models so I applied to them for a job. I really wasn’t getting anywhere. I even started rototilling people’s gardens and mowing lawns for money to pay the bills. While looking for jobs, I used the skills I learned at Jobfox and made an educated guess as to the Sales Manager’s email address and phone number, sent in my resume through the site and called. I did this with many companies. One did a phone interview with me then nothing for a long time. They ended up offering me a waitresses' salary (which was less than I was making on unemployment) and commission. I was fine with it. I just wanted a chance and Sedo gave me it," Gabriel said.  

Gabriel quickly made a name for himself at Sedo resulting in many invitations to speak at industry events. He is seen here at the 2010 TRAFFIC Vancouver conference in Canada.

"When I started working at Sedo I lived in Worcester, Massachusetts and would commute to Cambridge. On a regular day I would have to leave no later than 6AM or it would take over two hours, but on average it was an hour and a half each way by car. I started working in mid May 2009. I tried to learn as much of the business I could in June and July. My first true month selling, I sold OMG.com to Yahoo, Server.com for $770,000 and GoldTrading.com,  totaling well over $1 million in sales. I remember my old Sales Manager telling me my first month was a fluke. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t,  but I ended up finishing that year (7.5 months) at $7 million in sales. My second year at Sedo I completed $23 million in sales which included Sex.com. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity they gave me especially in the situation I was in. They gave me a chance!," Gabriel said.

"While I was at Sedo I had the opportunity to work along side of Tessa Holcomb and she was a big part of my success at Sedo. She helped me learn the business and sharpen my sales skills. She was also a top Broker, and we would compete every month as to who was on top. She left Sedo mid way through my second year to work at PPX. My entrepreneurial itch had never gone away and in stepped Gregg McNair.  

Gregg and I met at a few of the domain conferences and the three of us - Tessa, Gregg and I - decided to go off on our own and build a boutique brokerage - DomainAdvisors.com (later renamed Igloo.com)."

 DomainAdvisors/Igloo.com leaders (L tp R) Gregg McNair, Amanda Waltz, Jeff Gabriel
& Tessa Holcomb at the 2011 TRAFFIC East Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The experience I gained, and the knowledge I learned from Gregg and this opportunity I could compare to getting a Masters in Business. Shortly after we started, we went to the 2011 DomainFest conference in Los Angeles, and I remember ending up getting Legionaries Disease. After returning from DomainFest ill, I was shivering and sweaty building the desks for our new office. We rented space from my father and I realized there was no marketing department, there was no legal department, there were no tech people it was just us. We didn’t even have pictures on the wall. The three of us were it. We faced a lot of challenges, hired a great team of sales people, created sales processes, and made it work. In the first year DomainAdvisors/Igloo closed very close to or above $20 million in sales. To this day I am proud of that company, what I accomplished and what they continue to accomplish on a regular basis.  I still use many of the skills I learned there where I am now," Gabriel said. 

Where he is now is Frank Schilling's Uniregistry as VP Of Sales for DomainNameSales (soon to be re-christened Uniregistry Market). The move from Igloo.com to Uniregistry required a major change in Gabriel's personal life as well as his business career. It meant uprooting his family from their New England home and out of the U.S. to Uniregistry's headquarters on Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean. Gabriel told us how that all came about.

Gabriel with Uniregistry Founder and legendary domain investor Frank Schilling.

"When I worked at Sedo Frank was one of my customers. I had a great relationship with him and Vern Jurovich. When they heard I was leaving Sedo they wanted me to join them then. At that time I had to build something of my own. Two years later, I was shaving one morning and my cellphone rang. It was Frank. He said “Can you come down to the Caymans today?” I said how about tomorrow? I arrived in the Caymans and Frank and I spoke about what his plans were. He wanted me to build him a sales team, refine/improve the sales CRM, grow the book of business and turn it into a sales machine. He had a tech department in house, new extensions on the way, and was giving me a blank canvas to do it with. When I say blank canvas, when I got there, we were sharing a portable home phone to do sales! His excitement is contagious," Gabriel said.

"The funny thing is my wife always told me she wanted to live on a tropical island, so when I called her on my first night in the Caymans I asked her if she was ready to fulfill her dream? I don’t think either of us really were. That meeting happened in mid December. Shortly after we said our goodbyes to our family and our friends, packed up our home and shed a few tears. We were in Grand Cayman on January 5th, 2013. Lets just say it was a hectic few weeks!," Gabriel smiled. 

Gabriel's at Uniregistry's company Christmas Party

In the three years Gabriel has been at DNS/Uniregistry, the company has enjoyed phenomenal growth by every metric. We asked him what he thought the key ingredients were for that remarkable expansion for such a new company? "I think it is three things," Gabriel said.  

1. Frank has given me the freedom to hire who I want and when we need them. We have been able to hire a great group of sales people from all over the world (9 different countries) who want to get better at their profession and are a tight knit group that enjoys working together.

2. Our platform is constantly getting better. We listen to our clients, and learn where we are coming up short, then fix it or make it better.

3. We realize our relationship with our clients is a marathon not a sprint. We look beyond just one sale. We look at creating long standing relationships and do everything we can to preserve them with our sellers.   


As fast as Uniregistry has grown, it doesn't appear that expansion will slow down any time soon. As I write this they are getting ready to launch Uniregistry Market. We asked Gabriel about that and what will set it apart from other domain marketplaces.

"My first year here at DomainNameSales our sales team completed $17 million in sales," Gabriel said. Last year we completed $55 million. So far this year we are almost a million ahead of where we were last year. The reality is that every day new sellers who are new to the platform, or who were self brokering, are signing up to use our brokerage. The number of domains we have under management keeps growing and our brokers are becoming more proficient at their trade, the system keeps getting better."

Gabriel speaking at the 2015 NamesCon 
conference in Las Vegas.

"What we focused on with the new Uniregistry Market is efficiency. When you look at DomainNameSales CRM right now it is slow compared to what we are about to launch. If our Brokers are spending 8-10 hours a day working on selling domains, then we want them spending that 8-10 hours a day focusing on good opportunities that have the highest chances of closing. In a nutshell the new Uniregistry is going to do just that. Even if the number of customers does not go up, I think our efficiency will improve considerably. That will allow us to make even more sales and continue to deliver higher average sales prices than that of our competitors. In the near future we will be offering buyers the opportunity to check out right on our marketplace as well as offering payment plans for our sellers," Gabriel added.

"However, the main thing that separates us from our competitors is simple. We have 

the best trained and motivated sales team in the industry. We speak over 10 languages and assign our leads to each Broker based on the languages they speak, the time of day, their work load and the location of the buyer. Now that we have an office open in the UK, and soon China, we are very close to delivering a 24 hour service. Match that with the best technology in the world and that is a very formidable value proposition," Gabriel said.

Uniregistry's emergence and growth is just one example of how the domain world is constantly changing. In recent years we have seen the arrival of hundreds of new gTLDs. I asked Gabriel how he viewed the prospects for the new gTLDs, both in terms of new registrations and their potential value as aftermarket assets.  

"When it comes to the new gTLDs I think it is going to mirror the car industry 100 years ago," Gabriel said. "There were many different small car companies. Some became the brands we know today, others went out of business, and others were bought up by their competitors. I think some of the strings are going to be very successful and others not at all. Looking at the varying registration fees of some of the new gTLD’s, success measured by number of registrations might not be the only metric to look at. I think a strong aftermarket comes with public perception and how open they are to adopting certain strings. I can tell you we have sold many premium .Link, .Property, .Click and so on for thousands of dollars each. The number of interested buyers only continues to grow on these. Our customers who have given us the opportunity to sell some of the new gTLDs they have invested in have made some very good sales as well. As an example, last week a buyer purchased a domain similar to Car.Photo 

(a keyword + a new TLD extension) when he could have bought he equivalent combination of CarPhotos.com and CarPhoto.com for less money. He opted for the new gTLD," Gabriel noted. 

For an article that began with a lot of talk about Gabriel's penchant for fun and games in his youth it has ended with a focus entirely on business. They say "all work and no play makes Jack (in this case Jeff) a dull boy" so we are happy to be able to note that aspect of Gabriel's personality has not been extinguished (and it would be a shame if it ever was). It doesn't sound like Gabriel is in any danger of losing sight of what is most important in life.

Jeff Gabriel with wife Melissa and son Richard

"I have been very lucky and blessed to have a great family, great friends and most importantly a wonderful loving wife and son," Gabriel said. "I enjoy playing golf, scuba diving, socializing, going to sporting events, but just being able to go to the beach or the pool with my family is something I love to do."

"I met my wife 11 years ago this month. We have been together ever since. Through all of life’s changes, from getting laid off to being stressed about whatever it is at work, dealing with death, sickness, financial stress or whatever else has come my way, my wife Melissa has been by my side the entire time. When given the opportunity to move to Grand Cayman and work with Frank Schilling Melissa gave up her job and left her family so I could become successful in my own career while she put hers on hold. She has also given me the greatest gift that I could ever imagine, a son. Richard is 2 years old and has completely changed my life for the better. I cannot imagine my life without him. All of my 

accomplishments and success is great, but family is the most important thing in my life. Without my family, there is no way I would be here today," Gabriel gratefully concluded.


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