While everybody’s goals are different, it’s likely most Australians want to secure a good job, a comfortable house in their chosen city and perhaps the beginnings of a family by the time they’re thirty. Internet entrepreneur Kevin Graham wanted something entirely different. He told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that his dream was to buy his own freedom.
For Kevin, that meant financial independence and the ability to travel the world and earn an income no matter what far-flung corner of the globe he found himself in. Working in the IT department of a Government agency, Kevin begun looking at what others were doing in the online space that allowed them to be location independent.
He found businesses like Empire Flippers, a marketplace where people could build a website and then put it up for sale on the platform. Kevin built a website, and sold it for AU$4000. Then Kevin and his partner Rich made a plan to quit their jobs and move to Asia; somewhere where their cost of living would be low and they’d be surrounded by other entrepreneurs working on internet businesses.
“Initially, we were going to move to Davao in the Philippines, which is where the Ad Sense Flippers, Empire Flippers guys were based at the time,” says Kevin.
“There was a travel warning for the Mindanao province, which is where Davao is… (which) meant that if we went there, then travel insurance wouldn’t cover us, so we started looking at where else these people are centred. The city of Chiang Mai in Thailand… just kept popping up on a bunch of blogs, and so OK, well, Chiang Mai, Thailand it is.”
Kevin and his partner touched down in Chang Mai in January 2014 and hit the ground running building a portfolio of websites that could generate income.
“The first big shift that we did there right at the start was rather than focusing on those Ad Sense sites where you’d earn a few cents from every ad click, we then shifted to the idea of doing the Amazon product review websites, where you’d get up to eight, eight-and-a-half per cent of everything that the customer purchased when they clicked through.”
Next, Kevin discovered that once a site was up and running and generating revenue, it could be sold for the equivalent of 20 month’s profit, minus a broker’s fee.
“You’d basically bring forward just under a year and a half worth of the profits from that site in one big payday, if you sold a site, which is a very attractive offer, especially at the start, when you’re trying to build some more capital.”
Bushy said he saw a parallel with buying, holding, and selling property, but with a much faster turnaround.
“What I’m hearing is what you’ve effectively done is taken a similar model to the build, hold, and sell exercise that you might adopt in a property sense, but you’re shortened the periods,” says Bushy.
“We’re probably going from 15 years to one, and it’s still generating an income stream, so it’s giving you cash flow along the journey.”
While for many it takes decades to secure financial and personal freedom, at 33 Kevin says in many ways he has already achieved it. In addition to product review sites, Kevin is building a strong web hosting brand, and acquiring other small web hosting businesses to increase his market share. He has support staff in Australia, South Africa and the US, and runs it all from Chang Mai, or wherever else in the world he might be; he just spend six months on the road travelling in the US and Europe, enjoying himself and jumping online when he needed to work.
“The only time I set an alarm is if I’ve got a flight to go catch earlier in the day. Otherwise, I wake up when I wake up. I’ve got the freedom to go and hit the gym every morning, and then go and do a work out, do everything I need to do to put my body and mind in a great state to come back and be super productive on building and running the business I run now. So, in that way I kind of have a bunch of the freedom and everything that I want and need already.”
Listen to the full interview here.
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