The island nation of Samoa is part of a group of islands and islets in the south-central Pacific Ocean about 1,600 miles (2,600 km) northeast of New Zealand. It is completely separate and independent of its U.S. cousin, American Samoa. Its form of government consists of a Prime Minister, Parliament and, as head-of-state, a King. The country’s primary exports range from coconut cream and beer, to automotive wiring-harnesses and cigarettes.

All business professionals know that having an idea is one thing, but executing the idea is quite another. Mike and Alan knew that the idea of marketing an alternative to dot com had tremendous promise.

Yet, they both recognized that they’d need more perseverance and a little luck to pull it off. “Remember, we were paddling against the current,” Mike said. “Back then, most people were still branding businesses with dot com. Quite frankly, nearly everyone thought we were wasting our time.”

After a series of overseas phone calls and e-mails to Samoan officials, a date was set for Mike and Alan to meet with the leading figures of Samoa, including the King and his Prime Minister. In less than a week, Mike and Alan put together a presentation detailing their plans for their appropriation of the technical and marketing operations of Samoa’s top-level domain extension, “.WS.”

So as not to take any chances, Mike and Alan devoured reams of information about the nation of Samoa, familiarizing themselves with as many of its customs and traditions as possible. While Alan busily acquainted himself with appropriate etiquette when meeting with Samoan government officials, Mike worked on ensuring that the proposal they would present to the Samoans was as interesting and worthwhile as possible. “I had to make certain the Samoans understood that we looked at the opportunity as a joint relationship that would ultimately benefit their entire nation,” said Mike.

One major risk gnawed at Alan and Mike: they really didn’t have anything significant to immediately offer the country, except for their business ingenuity and know-how. Although Mike and Alan were successful marketing experts in the U.S., convincing an entire nation to trust them on what appeared to be a hunch would be difficult, at best.

“There was mounting pressure by some of our consultants to offer the Samoan government cash up-front. Otherwise, they felt we’d lose the deal and someone else could come in and take over,” Alan said. “However, we knew the culture of Samoa was much different than here in the States, and that ‘buying off’ anyone is not the way we do business! As a result,” Alan continued, “we came up with an alternative proposal we thought better accommodated the cultural demands of the country.”