Columbia event turns dud domains into lessons on internet business

Aspiring entrepreneur Martin Roa jumped feet first into designing a product, company and website around the domain

“If you are between the ages of 17 and 25, or your wisdom teeth are coming out and it’s hurting, we have created a product for you,” said Roa, standing in front of a small group of University of Missouri students and Columbia residents.

Roa was presenting at a Domain Purge workshop hosted Monday night by Columbia’s Regional Economic Development, Inc. Attendees were split into teams and randomly assigned an existing internet domain name. They then conceptualized a product or service to fit their domain, and they worked with a variety of web-based software tools used in launching businesses.

That all led to Roa standing in front of the room, pitching TeethCutter.

“It’s practical. It’s easy. It’s very cheap for you to extract your wisdom teeth at home in your bathroom,” Roa said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Roa’s product is not actually available. He and a team of five others were assigned the TeethCutter domain by Collin Bunch, entrepreneurship coordinator at REDI, earlier that evening.

Ideally, the Domain Purge events offer people a place to use different software tools, try varied marketing tactics and connect with like-minded individuals, Bunch said.

Roa’s team had to take its domain name and come up with the accompanying product, website and promotional material in less than an hour. The time frame was not reflective of an actual product-development cycle, but the software tools used at the event are regularly utilized by professionals.

The process was divided into three steps:

  1. Break into specialty teams
  2. Create content
  3. Combine and launch

The teams built their own landing pages, using tools like MailChimp and Landing Lion to do one of three things: “get the visitor to create an account, get the visitor to request more information, gauge interest and accumulate emails,” Bunch said.

Next, teams had to establish a way for their sites to collect something of value from users with tools like Celery, a type of pre-sales software.

Teams then used video tools like Powtoon and YouTube to create short explanatory advertisements for their products.

Once these elements were created and combined, the teams presented their work to the group. Beyond TeethCutter, the teams pitched a customizable T-shirt company (, a vendor that sends bacon to your loved ones ( and a business selling leftover food (

Afterward, Roa discussed his hope of one day launching his own clothing line geared towards teens. The skills he honed during Domain Purge helped encourage usability and improved his presentation skills, Roa said.

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