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“Ideas are worthless – just try selling out. It’s all about execution.”

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Matt Mickiewicz was named to the Forbes Magazine “30 under 30” list in 2012, co-founded 99designs which has hosted more than 130,000 design contests and paid out more than $30 million to designers, while winning a 2010 Webby Award for “Best Web Service” and raising $35 million from Accel Partners. Matt has also co-founded Flippa.com which has helped entrepreneurs sell more than $70 million in websites & domain names. INC Magazine named Matt to their “30 under 30” list in 2011.

MO: You started your first company while still attending High School. What inspired your early interest in entrepreneurship and how did you manage to gain such insight and credibility to attract a client base before even having your driving license?

Matt: It happened by accident. I was learning how to build my websites, and spending a great deal of time and effort into doing research about webhosting, domain registration, search engine optimization and more. I figured, if I was having so many problems, surely there are others like me as well. So I launched Webmaster-Resources.com on April 1st, 1998 and quickly gained a loyal following of fans. My timing turned out to be impeccable, and VC-funded companies in Silicon Valley with massive marketing budgets where eager to spend their dollars advertising on my site in order to be able to get in front of a very targeted audience.

MO: You seem to have a knack for developing new online models and revolutionizing the way we see things. What do you attribute this vision to? Is it a particular way of looking at things?

Matt: I’m a huge fan of disruptive innovation. What’s broken, frustrating, expensive or inaccessible. What products or services could be made 90% cheaper or FREE. What markets need liquidity, and a way of connecting buyers & sellers. Asking these types of questions leads to companies like Uber, AirBnB, Square, Plentyoffish and iStockPhoto, all of which are worth hundreds of millions – if not billions of dollars.

MO: What inspired you to launch Flippa.com?

Matt: Flippa was born out of the SitePoint Forums, a community site with hundreds of thousands of members. They started a sub-forum in which they sold websites via a discussion thread hosted in vBulletin. You could say that the community created the business for us, we just harnessed what was organically happening and created a new business around it.

MO: How does Flippa.com work? What are some of your favorite features of the site?

Matt: Flippa allows people to sell their websites, blogs, forums or apps via an auction. So if you have a site that’s make $20, $200 or $2000 per month, you can cash in your asset to invest in other ideas, vacations, a new car, wedding, your kids college education or whatever other expenses come up. We basically cover off the market that investment bankers and brokers won’t touch, because there isn’t enough commission in it to make it worth their while. To date, we’ve sold over $88 million in Web Businesses.

MO: What influenced your decision to give your Flippa messaging center a makeover?

Matt: Improving the user experience.

MO: You’ve also recently co-founded DeveloperAuction.com. What gap in the market struck you as an obvious opportunity?

Matt: I’m friends with a lot of start-up founders and CEOs, and they constantly gripe about how difficult it is to recruit engineering talent. Even the most famous and well-funded companies struggle to attract quality applications. At the same time, most engineers are horribly frustrated by a flood of “recruiter spam” coming from often clueless headhunters who have daily quotas to meet on outbound emails. It’s an incredibly fragmented industry that hasn’t seen much innovation since LinkedIn came around.

MO: Did you face any particular challenges when it came to flipping the traditional model on its head?

Matt: With DeveloperAuction we’re asking employers to submit offers on developers, before they ever get a chance to meet with them in-person or even talk to them on the phone. I spent dozens of hours on the phone with employers talking them through the model and the vision, and there were enough early adopters that we got massive traction – to the tune of over $30 million offers in our first auction.

MO: Do you think that the key traits that make someone a visionary or innovator can be developed and fine-tuned or is it something that you have to be born with?

Matt: I think anybody can learn to view the world through a different lens and ask a better set of questions, but it takes some with passion, guts and a willingness to execute “against all odds” to really get stuff done. Ideas are worthless – just try selling out. It’s all about execution. I’m a huge fan of Steve Blank’s Customer Development Methodology, he codified and put in writing what I’ve been doing for more than a decade.

 

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