He is known as the man who owns the Internet because of the sheer volume of web domains under his ownership. But I think you will find that Kevin Ham’s path to entrepreneurship is an interesting one and his ambitious spirit serves as inspiration to all of us.
Very few recognize the name Kevin Ham, yet he is one of the most influential people in the dotcom world with an empire worth $300 million. Much of his fortune was made by buying domain names and from pay per click ads. But that wasn’t his initial career path. Ham is a family doctor, but he put off practicing medicine when he was bit by the Web bug. Since entering the dotcom business in 2000, he has amassed over 300,000 domain names and makes about $70 million in revenue each year. “If you control all the domains, then you control the Internet.”
That the 39-year old Ham remains under the radar in terms of notoriety is fine with him. He says his is a business that attracts many enemies, particularly other domain owners. The son of Korean immigrants, Ham, who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, works aggressively to accomplish his goals despite the obstacles put before him by naysayers.
This determination was learned at an early age as Ham watched his parents struggle. Then at age 14 when he was struck by a debilitating disease, it was his strong will that led to Ham’s interest in becoming a doctor. “My father came to Canada with empty pockets and I hardly saw him as I grew up because he went to work before I awoke and didn’t get home until I was asleep. My mother did graveyard shifts as a nurse and slept a few hours, then helped my father in his dry cleaning business, and after that attended to household duties. She had such a very strong will to make sure that all of her three boys turned out to be good people. She engrained in us manners, a reserved personality, and a desire to make a difference in this world. I am forever indebted to my mother for bringing us up with the proper values, and being such a strong foundation for our family.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Ham began his business from a small room in his house. The kitchen table to be exact. That kitchen table has evolved into a mega office on the 27th floor in a skyscraper located in Vancouver. His key to success is taking advantage of opportunities, creating innovative technology to support his operations and capitalizing on the weaknesses of the competition. You can have the perfect plan and execute it, but there are so many other factors. For me, that is giving oneself up to a higher power, with the thought that I be used to do something that helps at least one other person. If you have that grounded perspective, then even when what others define as success is taken away, you are still very whole and humble when you have nothing and also when you have everything.”
In addition to buying up domain names, Ham has made a slight fortune on profiting from people who type in the incorrect domain name. He devised an ingenious plan to place ads on sites that are frequently visited by people who mistype a website address. Every time a visitor clicks on one of the ads, Ham profits.
A man who turns to the Bible for strength, Ham continues to expand his business by developing offshoots to his main focus. He is invested heavily in direct navigation in which people bypass search engines by typing in what they are looking for and adding the .com suffix. He most recently created a new company called Reinvent Technology in which he will turn his most popular domain names into small media companies. “It’s time to build out the virtual real estate. There’s so much more value in these names than pay-per-click.”
Ham credits his father for his entrepreneurial spirit. “He was always telling me why setting up dry cleaners in certain locations would succeed and why other locations would not. I learned the true value of hard work. I saw that to really do anything, you need to not only work hard, but also think about how you work.”