The Story of Dofo with Macit Tuna [Interview]
We’re starting a weekly interview series this week. We wanted to tell our story for a long time. So our first guest is someone we know, our co-founder and CEO Macit Tuna.
Macit’s former experience with domain names sparked the idea of dofo.com and he turned it into a service that is now used by thousands of users. You’ll find the background of the idea behind dofo.com and problems it aims to solve in his sincere answers.
What’s your background?
I’m a computer scientist and did my Master’s in cybersecurity. I worked on several web projects with my brother Sacit from one-person projects to thousand-people projects as an engineer, project manager, and even content expert through the years before founding Dofo.
What was the first domain you registered?
Before registering my first domain name, I was using dial-up Internet at my family’s home to check the availability of domain names. Because of the slowness of the Internet, then I started to think about domain names at home, made lists on Excel, print them out, and then was going to the Internet Cafe with my printed domain list (I still keep some of these printed papers) to check if the domain names on my list were available or not. That was mostly for fun because it’s not possible for me to register all these domain names. Some of the available domain names at that time are very valuable domain names now.
The first domain name I registered was for a project I was working on, in 2004. It was an open PDF library project that contains hundreds of e-books. At that time, reaching out to PDF books was amazing. There were no video courses like now, there weren’t resources available like today.
How did you get into domain names?
After registering my first domain name, I started to actively search for available domain names. Especially when I was at university, I started to register a lot of domain names, both for my own projects and for selling.
At those times, domaining was starting to be a popular business in Turkey. I started to make in deep researches, find good available domain names, and also cheap domain names in Turkish. I started to sell these domain names mostly in auctions. Yes, that was enjoyable because I was making money without depending on anybody else (except the buyers of course :)). It was very interesting and hard to tell people how you earn money.
I had hundreds of domain names since the first domain name I register. I purchased hundreds of domain names, sold most of them. I earned money, made a living with the money that I was earning by buying and selling domain names. Then, I started to interest in more about the products we can build with the data of domain names, and at that point, I stopped buying and selling domain names. I still buy domain names for only the projects & products we do. Because I think real domaining is not something you can do in your spare time, you have to dedicate yourself to what you are doing.
What is the story behind dofo.com?
One of the first domain names that made me aware of the Internet and domain names was a domain name registered by my brother Sacit for a web project they were building with his friends in high school. That was the tipping point. After that point in 2002, domain names, and also naming were always interesting to me.
I was blogging about domain names in Turkish between 2007 and 2013. I was also one of the organizers of Turkey’s first domain name events in 2012 and gave some courses about domain names and domain disputes in several universities.
While researching domain names, I was facing some problems like all other domain name researchers (anybody that is searching for a domain name in any purpose). After some points, you want to see all the data in one place without any restrictions. Because you had to visit tons of websites to get the data, you couldn’t search in domain names, you had to gather the data you need and put it in a meaningful format, and more. Of course, I was using some tools I developed to overcome these obstacles but that was not enough.
In 2010, I started to think about something big to solve all these problems. At that time, the name of the project was “Big Project-D”. The only thing I knew was that it was big and it was about domain names. It was not possible for me to build such a project without enough technical knowledge, team, and of course the necessary fund.
Then after doing several other projects, we founded Dofo in 2016, but as I said the idea was in our minds for years.
Why did you choose the name dofo.com?
That was also another interesting story. Because what we want to do was about domain names, and our name should be good enough at first. The phrase we were using for putting together all the information related to domain names was domain info. So we thought we can use something related to that phrase. We also thought it would be a network for domain names.
We listed all the options:
- domain info
- domain network
- domain name network
I had also some domain names with the word “domain”. We thought that would be our latest option if we can’t decide on other options.
We started to generate domain names, of course with a .com extension:
- DoNaNe.com (DOmain NAme NEtwork)
- DoIn.com (DOmain INfo)
- DoNe.com (DOmain NEtwork)
- DoFo.com (DOmain InFO)
- DNNET (Domain Name NETwork)
- and tons of others.
Of course, we eliminated most of the domain names because of some reasons such as pronouncability and longness. We didn’t want our name to contain “domain” because of better branding so we eliminated more. Also, most of the domain names we were looking for were already taken but we knew we had to spend money to have a good domain.
Then we decided to go with DOFO and registered our company name even before buying the exact match domain name. After we get the fund, we got the risk as a startup and purchased the domain name for $33,000 from the previous owner, a domain investor, Francois Carrillo. Surprisingly the domain name had been used for a similar purpose before but not continued for some reason.
What’s your future plan for Dofo?
We have been doing lots of things to make dofo better. Undoubtedly, we still have a lot of things to do. We always try to improve the user interface and user experience upon the feedback, adding new features, including more platforms even the “smaller” ones to cover more, and so.
I’m also an active user of Dofo -not as a professional, but as an end-user- and I’m also asking myself to what I don’t like on Dofo, what else would be nice, what kind of experience I’m having while using Dofo.
Our goal is not a secret: we want to make Dofo the first page of people looking for domain names, with the power of our partners. It might sound interesting to domain industry professionals but most people still do not know how to buy a domain name and even they don’t know they can buy a registered domain name. What we are trying to do is to reach more people and show them how it’s easy to search in millions of domain names for sale and buy the dream domain name. Of course, this is not something easy.
We also want to make our blog a unique resource everybody by publishing special posts, monthly reports, interesting statistics, detailed analysis, and interviews.
Time will show if we can achieve all these goals, but we will do our best.
What are your suggestions for people trying to find a good domain name for their projects?
In fact, I told this in my answer to why we chose dofo.com. I will tell what I do before naming a new project or product.
- At first, I should know what I want to do. I write down all the ideas, keywords, anything related to the project. It’s like brainstorming.
- Then I make a large domain name list based on the brainstorming steps outputs.
- Of course, most of the domain names I write down are already taken years ago, and some of them are actively used. I eliminate the actively used ones. If the domain name is for sale that’s good for me. If the domain name is not for sale but also not actively used that’s also a signal for the possibility of buying.
- I also check similar domain names to the domain names we found. If a similar domain name is actively used, that’s not good for us because it might cause confusion.
- I ask my friends and family to share their comments with me about the domain names.
Finally, I use the Weighted Decision Matrix method. I make a table and put the domain names to the first column. Then I place each criterion to the next columns such as Pronounce, Brandability, Price, Similar Domains, etc. Then each of the options has a score. That helps me to select the right domain name. To be honest, everything doesn’t happen always like that. Sometimes, one domain name has less score but you really want it then you play with the scores to give it the highest score 🙂
By the way, we have some other products and I used Dofo while finding and deciding them. We purchased some of them and hand-registered some other.
Thanks a lot for this interview. Do you have anything else to share with us? Of course, you can share whenever you want on the Blog 🙂
I would like to thank our team on Dofo, our investors, and moreover our users that always share their feedback with us. Dofo is something new for all of us, not only for the new users. We are learning new things each and every day. The most important part of these times is feeling the full support of our users.
Your feedback, ideas, and any other messages are always welcome. Please find me on Twitter and Linkedin.
Don't miss anything.
Subscribe to our newsletter.