November 17, 2023 |Tune into the full episode
Chip Conley built the world’s second largest boutique hotel chain to 3500 employees, but after a near death experience, Chip realized he wanted out. Chip went on to become Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, where he mentored co-founder Brian Chesky. Conley went on to create MEA — the Modern Elder Academy — the world’s first ‘midlife wisdom school’.
Jason Cohen is the founder of both SmartBear and WP Engine, both companies that have achieved a valuation of more than $1 billion, making them “unicorns” in the parlance of Silicon Valley. This is our first installment in a series we’re referring to as Legends of the Deal, which will chronicle the life lessons of extraordinary achievers in the world of value building.
Josh Anhalt started GreenPath Energy in 2007 to help oil and gas companies detect methane leaks in their pipes. Over the years, Josh tried and failed to sell his company three times only to have each deal thwarted for a different reason. By 2023 GreenPath was generating more than $8 million in revenue when they finally agreed to be acquired by a competitor for around 7 times EBITDA, 90% of which was paid in cash with the balance paid in stock of the acquirer.
Chad Maghielse treats his two French bulldogs like family. When their breath turned foul, he invented a dog breath spray. Within three years, he was making over $2 million in online pet product sales at a 35% profit margin. Then, he sold his business.
Jay B Sauceda built a logistics company that helped brands like Howler Brothers ship online orders. At their peak, Sauceda’s company had a 150,000 square foot warehouse, 150 employees and was on track to hit $14 million in annual sales when a fateful meeting at an industry conference led Cart.com to make an acquisition offer Sauceda couldn’t refuse.
This week, we continue our series called Inside the Mind of an Acquirer. We started this special series of interviews with acquirers because we want you to understand the perspective of the person across from you in a negotiation to buy your business. This week, we sat down with Bakari Akil, who has acquired two $30 million businesses and now teaches Cornell MBA candidates about entrepreneurship through acquisition.
Mark Ferrier founded the marketing agency TRAFFIKGROUP and grew it to over $2M in EBITDA before agreeing to be acquired by the private equity group Onex in an eight-figure exit. Mark decided to sell when a friend revealed that most founders end up wishing they had sold 50% sooner for 25% less.
In 2017 Lloyed Lobo and his partner, Alex Popa, founded Boast, a software application designed to simplify the process of applying for research and development tax credits. The bootstrapped company struck a chord with customers that found the process of applying for R&D tax credits cumbersome. By 2020 Lobo and Popa had built Boast to more than $5 million in revenue when they agreed to a $23 million majority recapitalization from Radian Capital.
At the age of 41, Rob Walling sold Drip, an email marketing software for enough money that he “would never have to work again”.
His only problem? Figuring out what to do next.
Sarah Dusek and her husband started Under Canvass, which offered large-scale tented hotels (think “glamping”) outside national parks around the U.S.
The business got off to a successful start, and within five years, Dusek had four locations, which were collectively generating $3 million in EBITDA. Rather than sit still, Dusek decided she wanted to grow much larger and raised $16 million of capital made up of a combination of equity and mezzanine debt at a rate of 13%, which Dusek personally guaranteed.
In 2015, Michia Rohrssen co-founded a SaaS business called Prodigy to help car dealerships sell online. He grew the company to $3.3M in annual revenue when he faced a difficult decision.
Rohrssen thought he could sell Prodigy for around 4-6 times revenue, but after paying off his investors, there wouldn’t be much left over for the founders. That’s when he decided to make a risky pivot to his business model. The change meant a short-term drop in Prodigy’s revenue, while also making it more attractive to strategic acquirers. Ultimately Rohrssen and his co-founder sold the smaller version of his company for a staggering $110 million, or around 65 times revenue.
Casey Cavell has plenty of party stories: he dropped out of college to become a professional poker player, tried his hand (successfully) at buying self-storage facilities and apartment complexes, and eventually found his way to the business of baseball. More specifically, a franchised baseball academy for 5-10 year olds that he grew to five locations.
Cavell essentially managed two exits from his D-BAT Academy franchises, first selling 66% of the business at a value of $1.5 million and then unloading his remaining equity at a $10 million valuation.
In 2017, Amman Ahmed founded MusicForPets, which launched the YouTube channels “RelaxMyDog” and “RelaxMyCat.” These channels aim to alleviate pets’ anxiety, whether due to stress or their owners’ absence.
Under Ahmed’s leadership, the channels amassed over 2 million subscribers and generated a 7-figure profit, largely because of effective SEO. As the business saw a surge in paid monthly website subscribers, it garnered the interest of California-based hip-hop label, Create Music Group, which extended a lucrative 8-figure offer that Ahmed couldn’t turn down.
In 2016, Chad Rubin crafted Skubana, a tool specifically designed to streamline the operation of his e-commerce store across diverse channels. Sensing the software’s potential, Rubin decided to offer Skubana to other online business owners.
The platform rapidly resonated with e-commerce entrepreneurs, accumulating $5 million in annual recurring revenue by 2021. The company’s success drew the interest of prospective buyers, eventually culminating in an irresistible offer from 3PL Central, a premier provider of warehouse management software.
In 2014, Alex Macdonald co-founded Velocity Black, a global digital concierge service for affluent clients. Unlike the basic concierge services of some credit cards, Velocity Black leverages technology and expert knowledge to curate personalized services such as travel, entertainment, shopping, and dining, accessible directly from your phone.
By 2022, the business had expanded to $30 million in net revenue, attracting attention from potential buyers, including Capital One, which acquired Velocity Black for a reported $297 million.
Ian Fraser, a former professional golfer from Scotland, turned his expertise in fitting golfers with the right clubs into a successful venture, Tour Experience Golf (TXG), in 2016.
His aim was to bring PGA Tour quality club fitting to everyday golfers. As TXG began to flourish, Fraser realized he needed to expand his team and impart his unique skills to them. By devising an innovative hiring process and employing a creative teaching method, he was able to grow TXG to a team of 14 employees, a YouTube fan base of 150,000 subscribers, and revenue exceeding $2 million.
In 2017, Chris Mole, based in the UK, founded Molzi, a full-service digital marketing agency catering to Amazon sellers. As pioneers in the field, the company witnessed significant growth. By 2020, amidst the lockdown-fueled e-commerce boom, Molzi doubled its team size to over 70 employees and generated revenues exceeding £4.5 million.
In 2021, their success caught the eye of Brainlabs, who acquired Molzi, paying 75% of the purchase price upfront and committing the remaining 25% to an earn-out agreement.
In 2013, Paul Johnson founded Lemonaid Health, one of the first digital healthcare platforms designed to offer virtual medical consultations and prescription services online.
While the company got off to a slow start, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of online healthcare. By the end of 2021, Lemonaid had agreed to be acquired by the DNA testing outfit 23andMe, for $400 million of cash and stock.
In 2009, Steve Reardon sold Peldon Technologies, a company he founded that provided pharmacies and retailers with photo printers and multifunctional kiosks. Following his departure, Reardon developed a passion for running businesses, a path that ultimately led him to venture into acquisitions.
Now, Reardon serves as the CEO of Alpine Software Group (ASG), a branch of Alpine Investors. ASG’s main objective is to acquire companies that specialize in vertical Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.
This week on Built to Sell Radio, we’re excited to feature a special episode with clinical psychologist, speaker, and author, Dr. Sherry Walling. Dr. Walling is renowned for her work with entrepreneurs, aiding them in navigating the mental and emotional hurdles of building and exiting a company.
In 2014, Mark Wright, who won BBC’s The Apprentice, used the £250,000 prize to co-found Climb Online, a digital marketing agency, in collaboration with business tycoon, Lord Sugar.
Their collective reputation and expertise in the industry enabled the digital agency to flourish, eventually becoming one of the largest in the UK with a workforce of 130 employees at its height. In 2022, Climb Online achieved a significant milestone as it was acquired by xDNA, a global digital agency group, for a value that amounted to 9.5 times its EBITDA. This acquisition marked the first successful business exit for a participant in The Apprentice.
After a 23-year journey building Non-Linear Creations into a marketing giant with more than 120 employees, Randy Woods sold it in 2017 to Valtech. Valtech is a distinguished digital agency offering marketing, digital technology, and business transformation consulting services.
Post-sale, Woods now serves as the SVP of Strategic Growth Opportunity at Valtech, a role dedicated to identifying potential acquisitions for the business.
In 2011, Tyler Smith, one of the top three real estate agents in California, launched SkySlope, a software platform that enables real estate professionals to efficiently manage their transactions, documents, and communication in one centralized system.
Smith successfully bootstrapped the company to around $12 million in annual recurring revenue by 2016, attracting significant attention from potential acquirers. Among the interested parties, Fidelity National Financial emerged as the ideal fit, acquiring 67% of SkySlope in a deal valuing the company at over $80 million.
In 2017, Miles Faulkner partnered with Martin Cleaver to establish Blended Perspectives, a reseller specializing in Atlassian products, which offer software solutions for large teams.
To distinguish themselves from other resellers, Faulkner devised an innovative product that set them apart from other Atlassian resellers.
Josh Abramson has an impressive track record of building valuable companies. In 1999 Abramson started CollegeHumor.com and before he could even graduate, Abramson had received an offer of $9 million for the website. Abramson went on to start the popular video sharing website Vimeo and apparel company BustedTees.com selling his collection of companies to Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp for a reported $20 million in 2006.
After a short stint reporting to Diller, Abramson left IAC and started TeePublic, an innovative online marketplace that serves as a platform for artists and designers to showcase and sell their distinctive designs on a wide range of products, including t-shirts and hoodies.
In 1998, Lori Morton founded AerieHub, a customizable mobile app that helps facility managers efficiently control building information and operations, including compliance records, blueprints, and employee training.
Morton onboarded industry giants such as Netflix, Michelin Tires, GE, Bosch, and others reaching over $1 million in annual recurring revenue. Thanks to a rigorous onboarding process and exceptional customer service, Morton lost only two clients in 24 years.
In 2017, Gamal Codner established Fresh Heritage, an e-commerce company that created grooming products specifically for men of color.
Codner grew Fresh Heritage quickly with Facebook ads and online reviews, but relying solely on paid customer acquisition almost bankrupted the company. Codner introduced a subscription program and turned one-time customers into automatic repeat purchasers, dramatically increasing the lifetime value of a customer.
In 2008, Brandon Lazar started A+ Gutter & Window Cleaning, servicing homeowners in British Columbia, Canada. Lazar successfully bootstrapped the business, generating nearly $1.5 million in revenue before being approached by an acquirer.
Lazar sold A+ Gutter & Window Cleaning to a private buyer in 2023 for approximately 3.5 times EBITDA, without an earn-out.
In 2016 Susanne Klepsch launched Meetfox, a scheduling and video calling solution that helps service professionals manage and monetize their time.
By 2021 Meetfox had acquired a user base of 25,000. As Klepsch observed competitors being acquired by large software companies, she recognized the need to partner with a major player to compete effectively with Calendly. Consequently, she initiated a merger and acquisition process, reaching out to over a hundred companies, including the venture-backed, all-in-one marketing software Sendinblue. Eventually, Sendinblue made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
In his role as an acquirer, Kevin McArdle has purchased 45 businesses including three from former Built to Sell Radio guests.
In 2013, Dan Reich and his partners founded TULA, a digitally native, probiotics-infused skincare line.
Reich bootstrapped TULA to around $10 million in annual revenue when he realized he needed to replace himself as CEO.
The company thrived under professional management, and by 2022, TULA had achieved revenue of over $100 million and received an acquisition offer from Procter & Gamble.
In 2016, Jeremy Parker co-founded Swag.com to offer branded promotional products for businesses. Parker and his team developed a powerful online platform that enables customers to order products through their unforgettable website.
Thanks to Swag.com’s innovative approach and memorable domain name, the company generated $30 million in revenue by 2020. However, when Parker began to explore acquisition offers, potential buyers viewed Swag.com as just a distribution company, which is typically valued in low single digits of EBITDA.
In this special edition of Built to Sell Radio, we will explore five reasons why larger businesses acquire smaller ones and provide tips on how to make your company more attractive to potential strategic acquirers.
In 2011, Tammer Kamel launched Quandl, a company that provided investors with data designed to give them a competitive trading edge. For example, Quandl offered subscriptions that let investors access private jet flight information for public companies as a predictor for M&A activity.
By 2018, Quandl had grown to 75 employees. Kamel saw industry giants entering the space, but knowing the time and capital investment it would take to build a competitive offering, he believed they would prefer to acquire Quandl.
Kyle Scott launched Crossing Broad, a Philadelphia sports blog, in 2009. His irreverent and edgy writing style gained a significant following among Philly sports fans, resulting in thousands of daily readers. However, it wasn’t until the 2018 Supreme Court ruling lifted the ban on sports betting in the US that the business flourished.
In 2013, Mac Lackey licensed the FC Barcelona name to offer soccer camps and immersion trips to young athletes in the United States.
Lackey grew the business to over $10 million in revenue before accepting a lucrative buyout offer that included various desirable benefits for sports fans.
In 2015, Brad Lorge founded Premonition, a technology company that offers logistics software to streamline a company’s delivery operations. Rather than the traditional approach of financing their start-up through rounds of dilutive funding, Lorge asked his customers to pre-pay, allowing the founding team to retain 80% of the equity in their business.
Rachel Elsts Downey is the founder of Share Your Genius, a podcast production company that has been helping businesses increase their brand visibility since 2017. Over the years, Share Your Genius has grown into a successful business, generating $500,000 in revenue by 2021.
In 2003, Ron Holt founded Two Maids & a Mop, a residential cleaning business. Thanks to an innovative employee bonus plan, Holt was able to grow his business to 12 company-owned locations.
That’s when a random encounter with Fred DeLuca, the founder of Subway, changed Holt’s life forever. Deluca gave Holt the inspiration and a roadmap for franchising his business which Holt used to grow Two Maids & a Mop from 12 to 91 locations across the United States and $40 million in revenue.
Sam Parr founded the Hustle, a media company that delivers business and tech news to millennials in an engaging and relatable way, in 2015. The business was an instant hit with readers, generating millions of page views in only a few months.
By 2020 Sam Parr had grown the Hustle to $15 million in revenue, attracting the attention of tech giant HubSpot. A few months later, the tech conglomerate acquired the Hustle in a lucrative eight-figure deal.
In 2016, Derek Morin founded Tabarnapp to create after-market sales applications for Shopify website owners. The company was an instant hit generating more than 1,000 paid customers in its first few months after launching on the Shopify platform.
In 2020, Morin acquired one of his partners’ stake in Tabarnapp, valuing the company at $400,000. Two years later, Morin sold Tabarnapp for a much higher price, implying a tenfold increase in the company’s value.
In 2012, Spencer Thompson founded Sokanu, a career assessment platform aimed at replacing the outdated assessments that existed at the time. Sokanu’s “Career Explorer” quickly became one of North America’s most prominent assessment tools and was adopted by the U.S. Government and top colleges around the world.
In 2011, Perry Rosenbloom started the web development company, Brighter Vision. After a few years of jumping from project to project, Rosenbloom had a breakthrough. Instead of doing web design for everyone, he decided to focus on creating websites exclusively for therapists.
His decision to niche down worked as revenue soared.
In 2016, Marc Lafleur started truLOCAL, a subscription business allowing people to buy locally-raised meats online.
To ignite sales, Lafleur and his co-founder pitched the company on the popular Canadian TV show Dragon’s Den (similar to Shark Tank). The presentation was a hit as they received an investment of $100,000 from Dragon’s, Michele Romanow and Joe Mimran for 10% of the business.
In 2009 Simon Penson founded Zazzle Media, one of the first content marketing agencies in the U.K. Although the company was successful, Penson had difficulties winning large customer contracts due to the size of his agency.
To enhance his credibility, in 2015 he decided to merge Zazzle Media with Stickyeyes, which, at the time, formed the largest content marketing agency in the U.K.
Penson’s decision proved to be savvy.
This week on Built to Sell Radio, we highlight the top strategies from the 10 most popular shows of 2022.
In 2006 Kelby Zorgdrager started DevelopIntelligence, an outsourced training provider that helps programmers develop new skills and adapt to ever-changing technologies.
The business snowballed as Zorgdrager onboarded most Fortune 500 giants in his space. However, Zorgdrager had a problem. The company was too dependent on him.
To ensure the business could succeed without him, Zorgdrager implemented a four-step system to replace himself as the rainmaker of his company.
In 2016 Trevr Smithlin and Dave Hanley founded AdvertiseCast, a marketplace connecting podcasters with advertisers. The company experienced tremendous growth, doubling revenue year-over-year until 2020. That’s when the uncertainty triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic caused Smithlin and Hanley to consider their strategic options.
In March 2021, Smithlin and Hanley signed an acquisition agreement from Libsyn for $30 million.
In 2016 Channing Allen and his brother Courtland founded Indie Hackers, a blog and forum that encourages founders to transparently share their ideas and stories.
After only eight months, the brothers had grown the business to $8,000 in revenue when they received an unexpected email from Patrick Collison (co-founder and CEO of Stripe), who was looking to acquire the company.
Although tempted to keep building, Stripe’s offer was too good to refuse. The brothers agreed to be acquired by Stripe in March 2017.
In 2012, Jaclyn Johnson founded Create & Cultivate, a media company that educates and inspires women to succeed in business.
By 2018, Johnson had grown Create & Cultivate to eight employees when an acquirer offered her a staggering $40 million. Unfortunately, the deal was too good to be true. When the acquirer discovered her hands-on management style, they pulled out.
Learning from her mistakes, Johnson implemented a collection of strategies to ensure Create & Cultivate could thrive without her.
In 2002 Chuck Crumpton started Medpoint to help businesses bring medical devices and pharmaceuticals to market. The company quickly took off after Crumpton landed a prominent blue-chip client.
It was a blessing and a curse.
In 2009 Natalie Nagele and her husband, Chris, launched Postmark to help businesses deliver emails to their customers quickly.
A decade in, Nagele had grown the company to around 40 employees, which was when she began feeling burned out. The pull to explore new interests was the catalyst to accepting a life-changing acquisition offer from Active Campaign in 2022.
In 2020 veterinarian Dr. Joseph Marchell started Old Brown Dog Veterinary Partners (OBDVP) after identifying a unique opportunity to do a rollup of family-owned animal hospitals.
Marchell acquired three practices for around ten times EBITDA. He then implemented a streamlined operational strategy that resulted in the sale of OBDVP less than two years later for almost three times the purchase price.
In 2015 Nick Santora founded Curricula, a cyber security awareness training program that helps companies defend themselves against hackers. Santora created fun, cartoon training videos in contrast to the dull content that existed at the time.
Companies happily embraced Santora’s approach. By 2021 he had grown Curricula to just over $2 million in annual recurring revenue when he accepted an acquisition offer from the cyber security giant Huntress for $22 million.
In 2008, Gavin Hammar started Sendible, a platform that allows companies to manage all their social media accounts from one place.
The company grew steadily until 2016, when Hammar hit a sales plateau. Challenged to combat a high churn rate, Hammar took several unique steps to humanize his business.
Becoming a more approachable brand worked. Sales increased by 30% year-over-year and by 2021, Sendible had 47 employees when they were approached by ASG with an acquisition offer Hammar couldn’t refuse.
U.K.-based Nathan Winch started his career as a private equity investor after selling his first company, Winch Pharma, in 2017.
Since then, Winch has acquired over 20 businesses, with a focus on logistics and infrastructure companies.
In 2014 Tim Grassin founded Candy Banners, which designs ads that show up along the top, bottom, and sides of a website.
Grassin built a remote team in the Philippines to minimize his costs. Hiring inexpensive developers allowed Grassin to charge lower rates to agency owners, resulting in rapid growth.
The business had grown to over seven figures in revenue in 2020 when Grassin received an acquisition offer from one of his clients, Native Touch. The offer valued Candy Banners at around five times EBITDA, and the deal closed in 2021.
In 2015 Mike Winnet started U.K.-based Learning Heroes after recognizing that most e-learning programs were long and boring. Winnet saw an opportunity to transform the industry by creating short, engaging, animated training courses.
Winnet started by trying to sell his courses to job seekers, but when his efforts failed, he pivoted to selling to companies. Instead of a few hundred dollars a year from job seekers, selling to companies meant he was getting a few thousand dollars a year.
In 2013 South African entrepreneur Jason Bagley started Firing Squad, a lead generation company specializing in cold emails.
In 2020 Firing Squad signed an agreement to be acquired by Southern Web and was later rebranded to SiteCare.
The deal was something Bagley would later come to regret.
In 2012 Patrick Campbell founded ProfitWell to help SaaS companies increase revenue and reduce churn by managing their data in a single place.
After bootstrapping the business to 8-figures, Campbell decided it was time to raise money. While he was seeking a financial investor, Paddle approached him with an acquisition offer. Soon after, in 2022, Campbell sold ProfitWell to Paddle for over $200 million.
Ed Buckley started Peerfit, which allows companies to offer fitness classes as part of their employee benefits package. The company grew to more than 150 employees before receiving an acquisition offer for almost $100 million from a major fitness brand widely reported to be Peloton. Buckley retained some of the IP, which, in a strange twist, he was able to sell in another eight-figure exit months later.
In 2012, Ryan Coon started Rentalutions, a platform to help landlords manage and communicate with their tenants more effectively.
The business showed steady growth, but Coon wasn’t satisfied.
Five years in, Coon rebranded the company to Avail and focused his marketing to target DIY landlords with under ten rental units to manage. The changes proved successful as Coon grew the business to around $7 million in revenue before selling to Realtor.com in 2020 for approximately five times revenue.
When Jodie Cook started her social media agency, nothing happened without her involvement.
Desperate to free herself up from the minutia of running her company, Cook started to systematize her business with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). After a few missteps, Cook mastered the art of delegation.
In 2016, Ryan Kulp launched Fomo because he saw marketers using aggressive popups on their websites.
Kulp reasoned that if he could show other people were shopping and interacting with a site, it would give new visitors confidence in the company.
Fomo allows businesses to show off real-time customer interactions (purchases, opt-ins, even pageviews) with a line of code the company installs on their site.
The economy has been a roller-coaster over the last quarter.
In this special episode of Built to Sell Radio, John Warrillow reveals the downside of trying to time the market and shares four alternative ways to know when to sell.
Rory Fatt began his entrepreneurial journey running marketing seminars for restauranteurs. After several owners approached Fatt to do their marketing for them, he decided to launch Royalty Rewards in 2005.
The business was a multimedia marketing platform that helped small businesses market their products and services by rewarding loyal customers. The company took off, hitting just over $2 million in revenue in its first year.
Inspired to achieve financial freedom, Fatt began to explore selling his company. In 2022, he accepted an offer from Schianti Partners that would set his family up for life.
Jeremy Nagel started his entrepreneurial career teaching clients how to get the most out of Zoho, a popular CRM platform. Nagel began cultivating a small following on YouTube by sharing his advice for Zoho enthusiasts.
Given his status in their ecosystem, Zoho approached Nagel about creating an SMS plug-in for their application to allow users to text their clients while using Zoho. Nagel developed the application while keeping his day job. Despite only dedicating one or two days a week to its growth, the feature quickly became one of the top five applications in the Zoho marketplace.
Touraj Parang has experienced the highs and lows of selling a company.
In 2009, Parang sold his first company, Jaxtr, for pennies on the dollar. He took the lessons he learned and joined Webs.com, where he helped Haroon Mokhtazarda sell his company for over $115 million.
Parang left Webs.com and joined GoDaddy as a leader in their acquisitions group, where they acquired dozens of companies during his tenure.
Ten years ago, Timo Armoo was on a flight from his home country of Ghana on his way to live in a council flat in one of the U.K.’s poorest neighborhoods.
Motivated to live a better life, Armoo started Fanbytes, an influencer marketing agency dedicated to connecting brands with social media influencers.
The company took off.
Fanbytes reached 65 employees and hit revenues of 8-figures when he decided to sell the company to Brainlabs for around 3X revenue.
In 2015, Lorenzo de Plano co-founded Solace Technologies, one of the first vape manufacturers in the United States. The goal of the business was to create a discreet vape pen that customers could use as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.
The business boomed to revenue of more than one million dollars a month, but a looming threat had de Plano eyeing an exit. So, when a $15 million offer came in, he bit.
In 2007, Laura Roeder started selling online courses on how to market through social media. Her courses gained popularity, resulting in Roeder growing an email list of around 70,000 people. Inspired to further serve her customers, she decided to create social media scheduling software.
It was one of the first social media planning tools that allowed you to schedule your social media content. Piggy backing off the list she had built from her online course business, the company hit $1 million in recurring revenue in only 11 months.
In 2009, Raman Sehgal started a small marketing company called ramarketing. In 2015, frustrated with the company’s progress, Sehgal decided to analyze his business.
That’s when he discovered something interesting.
Ramarketing’s most valuable customers (low-maintenance, sticky, high gross margin etc.) were in the pharmaceutical industry. Sehgal immediately pivoted the company to solely serve clients in the pharmaceutical supply chain.
In 2001, Haroon Mokhtarzada and his brothers started Webs.com, which allowed anyone to build a professional website. Eager to grow the company, they decided to raise money from a venture capital firm – a decision Mokhtarzada would later regret.
They ultimately grew Webs.com to over 50 million users and sold it in 2011 to Vistaprint for over 10x revenue, totaling $117.5 million.
In 1988, Tony Falkenstein started Just Life Group, one of the first water-cooler companies in New Zealand.
In 2016, Falkenstein identified the need to diversify into new service offerings and opted to start acquiring companies. Since then, Falkenstein has acquired six businesses, aligning with their overall focus of enhancing lives through healthy living and healthy homes.
In 2015 Josh Davis and a friend decided to start Speedee Transport, a trucking company specializing in shipping products that need to be refrigerated.
Within three years of starting the business, they had grown from two to over forty-five employees, and an acquirer approached them. This kicked off an emotionally draining—and financially rewarding—journey to sell Speedee.
In 2017, John Whiting started Digital Kryptonite with the goal of providing business owners with more leads. Helping his clients mine LinkedIn, Whiting quickly grew his company from zero to seven figures within a year. The company saw massive growth month-over-month when suddenly Whiting received a message from his credit card processor that his account was being shut down.
Although 98% of Whiting’s customers were happy, 2% were not, which led to a greater dispute rate than Stripe allowed. This ultimately led to Whiting being placed on the Match List, which inhibited his ability to process payments. Suddenly, the seven-figure business Whiting had built was in jeopardy.
With little faith left, John received an email from a friend asking to buy his company. In his own words, it was a “lifeboat,” and Whiting jumped on with both feet.
In 2019, Jonathan Shroyer, alongside his Co-Founder Scott McCabe, started Officium Labs with the goal to help clients turn contact centers into profit centers.
After two years of seeing incredible growth, Jonathan was approached by three investors to acquire Officium Labs. Shroyer ultimately ended up selling to Arise for around 20X EBITDA.
Eddie Whittingham started a company called The Defense Works in 2016. His idea was to provide companies with information on how to avoid getting hacked. Whittingham created a series of animated video clips explaining cyber security best practices and offered his content on a subscription model to companies.
In 2016, Ashford took what little was left after his business failed and invested £4,000 in developing proposal software for accountants which he named GoProposal. By 2020, GoProposal was a slick application with £1.5 million in revenue and hundreds of accountants using it. That’s when Ashford agreed to be acquired for a healthy 8-figure sum.
James Ashford had a burning drive to become an entrepreneur and start a successful business. After a failed attempt to grow a marketing agency, Ashford knew that to build the business he had always dreamed of, he needed to make some drastic changes.
In 2016, Ashford took what little was left after his business failed and invested £4,000 in developing proposal software for accountants which he named GoProposal. By 2020, GoProposal was a slick application with £1.5 million in revenue and hundreds of accountants using it. That’s when Ashford agreed to be acquired for a healthy 8-figure sum.
Paul Nielsen built HomeTech, a company focused on creating healthier homes by installing skylights for natural lighting and advanced systems for better air quality. The business was generating around $1.4 million in EBITDA when an industry competitor approached Nielsen about acquiring HomeTech.
This week, we’re featuring four recent guests and highlighting transferrable lessons they shared about exiting their company.
After graduating from business school, James Benham interned at one of the large accounting firms. Benham quickly realized corporate life was not for him. Instead, Benham started a business and lived on less money than he made as an intern for ten years.
In 2019, Ben Tossell was a frustrated entrepreneur, launching products nobody bought. His contacts showed little interest in his concepts but were curious about how he built his online offerings – especially because Tossell admitted he didn’t know how to code.
Anna Maste built Boondockers Welcome, a kind of Airbnb for RVers, to $100,000 in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) when she received an offer of 3.9 times ARR. Maste was about to accept the offer when some soul searching led Maste to believe she could do much better. That kicked off a two-year journey of building the value of her business.
Imagine turning your expertise into an 8-figure exit. That’s exactly what Sue Bryce did. Bryce built a $1 million photography studio in an industry where owners are often limited to low six-figure businesses that are dependent on them.
This week, we’re back with the latest Intel edition of Built to Sell Radio. We feature four recent guests and dissect what made their companies built to sell.
Calvin Johnson built Lykki, an office supply company, to more than $7 million in annual revenue.
Johnson had two divisions, one had office kitchen supplies (e.g., coffee), and the other sold office supplies. The kitchen supplies business was more attractive to acquirers than the office supplies side, so Johnson decided to separate the divisions and sell them separately.
Robert Glazer started an affiliate marketing agency called Acceleration Partners in 2007. Glazer never took outside capital and grew Acceleration to almost $28 million in sales before he sold a majority interest to Mountain Gate Capital in 2020.
Robert Glazer started an affiliate marketing agency called Acceleration Partners in 2007. Glazer never took outside capital and grew Acceleration to almost $28 million in sales before he sold a majority interest to Mountain Gate Capital in 2021.
Sandy Hansen-Wolff was a newlywed when her husband of only a few months, Randy Hansen, was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors told Randy that one in four patients in his position succumbed to the disease. The couple scrambled to deal with the diagnosis and what would happen to Randy’s feed business, which was generating revenue of around $1 million, if he were to pass.
Randy died a few months later, leaving Sandy with little more than a handwritten list of his assets, including a heavily leveraged business.
Melissa Kwan and her co-founder built Spacio, a company that helped real estate agents win and manage leads that come from hosting open houses.
Kwan built the company to roughly 100,000 agents using Spacio when a chance encounter at an industry conference led to an acquisition offer from HomeSpotter.
In 2013, Kate Field started The Kombucha Shop offering home-brew kits that people can use to make kombucha.
By 2018, the kombucha craze was in full swing and Field was invited to pitch her business on Shark Tank. Field asked for $350,000 in return for 10% of her company which was generating around $1.2 million per year selling kombucha kits. Field got an offer for $200,000 in cash and another $150,000 line of credit in return for 10% of her company from Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely, the Spanx founder who was a guest Shark that day.
Despite her success on television, a series of surprising events led Field to walk away from the Shark’s offer and sell The Kombucha Shop the following year. This episode is a raw account of the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey.
David Darmanin co-founded Hotjar, a software company that helps website developers and owners understand how their users interact with the sites they build.
Darmanin and his partners bootstrapped Hotjar to around $40 million in Annual Recurring Revenue before selling it in 2021.
David Perry co-founded Gaikai, a video game company that enables popular games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty to be played on just about any device.
Perry raised $50 million through three rounds of funding and sold Gaikai for $380 million to Sony.
Anthony Fracchia built Altruis Benefit Consulting to $2.5 million in revenue when he started to get unsolicited calls from potential buyers. He initiated conversations with an acquirer only to learn they planned to gut his staff and kill his brand.
Rafael Zimberoff built ShipRush, an application that helps businesses streamline their technology, to 12 full-time employees when he sold it to Descartes for $14 million, plus a $3 million earn-out.
This week’s episode of Built to Sell Radio is the Intel edition. We focus on four recent guests and highlight the strategies that made their companies built to sell.
In 2013, Jon Claydon started Streamline Marketing to help brands manage their affiliate programs. Claydon bootstrapped his business to around 30 employees but avoided hiring for some senior roles in favor of doing much of the work himself.
Prantik Mazumdar and his business partner Rachit Dayal built Happy Marketer, a digital marketing agency, to more than $10 million in annual revenue before they decided to sell to Dentsu Aegis Network. Mazumdar and Dayal agreed to sell for around 7 times EBITDA, 40% of which was paid up front with the remainder available in a four-year earn-out tied to the future profitability of Happy Marketer.
Josh Delaney started FAB CBD, a CBD e-tailer, in 2017. Delaney’s Mom was his first customer, but his sales quickly went beyond family members. By 2020, through a combination of savvy marketing and good fortune, FAB CBD had risen to more than $10 million in annual sales. In early 2021, Delaney caught the attention of High Tide, a Calgary-based cannabis company that offered him $13 million in cash plus $8 million High Tide shares in return for 80% of FAB CBD (an implied valuation of $25.8 million).
Ben Kellie got his start in the aerospace industry helping Elon Musk figure out how to get his rockets to land on a floating barge without blowing up.
In 2015, Kellie left SpaceX to start The Launch Company where they supply hardware parts and consulting to a growing list of new aerospace companies like SpaceX. Less than five years after starting, Kellie was approached by Voyager Space, a private equity-backed group rolling up new space companies.
Kevin Waldron built Olympic Restoration, a disaster recovery business, to $24 million in annual sales before he decided to sell. Helping homeowners clean up from a fire or a flood was a good business, but after 17 years, Waldron was tired of fighting with insurance companies over claims.
Nick Leighton started a marketing agency called NettResults with the idea of helping technology companies access consumers in the Middle East. Based in Dubai, Leighton built NettResults to around $2 million in revenue when he decided to sell.
Leighton attracted a number of offers including one from a much larger agency that wanted an office in the Middle East.
Leona Watson started Cheeky Food Events, where they offered companies cooking lessons as a team-building activity.
Over 17 years, Watson produced 3,000 events for more than 85,000 people. Watson hit $3 million in sales when she realized it was time for her to start thinking differently about her business.
With Built to Sell Radio, you’ve grown accustomed to hearing entrepreneur exit stories from A to Z, but this week’s episode is a little different. We tease out four transferrable lessons from the latest batch of guests.
Arleen & Ted Taveras had been growing their insurance consultancy for twenty years when they received an unsolicited acquisition offer for 12.5 times EBITDA.
It was a tempting offer from an industry stalwart, but Arleen & Ted wondered if they might be leaving money on the table.
Back in 1998, siblings Pete and Alexa Ingram-Cauchi started iD Tech to offer summer camps for kids who wanted to learn about computers.
The business grew each year and by 2019, was generating $70 million in annual sales hosting camps from Stanford to MIT and beyond.
Jay Gould co-founded Yashi, a platform that helped advertisers buy ads on video content. Yashi grew to more than $25 million in revenue and more than $5 million in EBITDA when Gould received an offer of $33 million from Nexstar Broadcasting. The offer represented around 6 x EBITDA and Gould was conflicted. He knew he could probably get more, but he had also seen how quickly a successful company can go to zero.
Andy Cabasso co-founded JurisPage, a marketing agency specializing in helping law firms in 2013.
Three years later, JurisPage had service contracts with more than 200 law firms when they got a call from Uptime Legal, an Inc. 5000 business specializing in technology and practice management software for law firms.
Mehul Sheth started VMS Aircraft in 1995 with a plan to sell spare parts to airlines. Sheth had just $25,000 to invest in inventory, so VMS got off to a modest start. However, by 2016 Sheth had crested $8 million in revenue. VMS counted some of the largest airlines in the world as customers.
Paul J. Farrell built Nehemiah Security, a software company that helped organizations understand and calculate the risks associated with a cyber-attack.
In just two years, the business grew to around $1.2 in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) despite sales cycles of up to nine months.
Back in 2006, Michael Kaplan and his partners bought into a Zerorez Carpet and Living Surfaces Care franchise. The business was generating $300,000 in revenue and losing $40,000 a year.
By 2019, the company was generating $17 million in revenue when Kaplan and his partner had an irreconcilable dust-up which led to Kaplan triggering their shotgun partnership agreement.
In 2017, Justin Adams co-founded Digitize.AI to help hospitals get paid. They used artificial intelligence to get medical treatments pre-approved by insurance companies ensuring their patients could pay their medical bills.
The business was hungry for cash, and Adams and his wife put everything their young family had into the idea. At one point, Adams was so short of money that when their clothes dryer broke, the Adams family started hanging their laundry because they couldn’t afford the repair.
Cheryl Contee co-founded Attentive.ly along with Rosalyn Lemieux. Together, the partners offered a Software as a Service (SaaS) app that helped non-for-profit organizations perform “social listening”. Their offering was used by organizations to identify and drive engagement among their influencers.
By now, you’re accustomed to hearing John Warrillow ask the tough questions.
Every month, we turn the tables and grill John on his favorite anecdotes and transferrable lessons from the latest batch of guests on Built to Sell Radio. In this episode, Dr. Jeremy Weisz gets John to reflect on what stood out, any missed opportunities, and how each story imparts the Built to Sell Methodology.
Michèle Hecken built Alpha Translations up to $4.4 Million (USD) in revenue and almost a million dollars in EBITDA before she sold it in 2019 for $6 million cash (6.7 x normalized EBITDA).
It was a fantastic exit for Hecken who got her start in University translating legal contracts from German to English.
In 1994, Robert Hartline started selling phones in the back of his car. By 2019, he had built Absolute Wireless into a chain of 56 wireless stores and 350 employees.
Hartline was able to systematize his business while he grew by creating employee onboarding videos and delegating key processes (download your copy of The Definitive Guide to Standard Operating Procedures).
Like many young couples, Ben & Ariel Zvaifler got a puppy and found themselves trying to figure out how to train it. They wondered what toys were safe and what kind of food to give to their brand-new puppy.
The couple figured they weren’t alone and decided to launch PupBox, a subscription box for new puppy owners that offered owners training guides, treats, and toys for puppies appropriate for their age and stage of development.
Nick Huber was a track star at Cornell when he fielded a call from a parent that would change his life. A fellow student needed to store their stuff over the summer, and Huber was offered money to pick up his classmate’s stuff and keep it until the fall. Huber realized that other students who lived out-of-state might need a similar service, and Storage Squad was born.
On this month’s episode of Built to Sell Intel, John will be sharing key insights from the latest group of entrepreneurs interviewed on Built to Sell Radio.
John recaps his favorite anecdotes in this monthly live broadcast, highlighting helpful strategies and transferable lessons.
Cary Moretti is the founder of NewSportMedia, an IT consulting company that does work with sports leagues. Along the way, Moretti created a software application called LeagueStat. The app helped hockey leagues like the AHL and CHL provide fans, journalists, parents, and scouts with real-time statistics on their favorite teams.
Dr. Kristin Kahle helps businesses pick a benefits program for their employees.
She started three insurance agencies and the first two were service businesses that sold for a modest 1.5-2 times EBITDA.
With her third business, Kahle wanted to attract a higher multiple, so she decided to transform it into a technology company.
In 2011, Jodie Cook started an eponymously named social media agency, JC Social Media. Over the next nine years, Cook built the business up to 16 employees. Then, she decided to sell at the end of 2020 and thought her company could be worth in the 5-7 times EBITDA range.
Along with three friends, Sebastian Johnston co-founded TheAmazeApp in 2014. The idea was based on a simple idea. Social media influencers could upload a picture of what they were wearing and tag the clothing on TheAmazeApp’s database of e-commerce retailers. Then, when one of their followers purchased the item, TheAmazeApp would receive a commission they shared with the influencer.
Eytan Wiener started Quantum Networks as a simple Amazon Reseller of technology gadgets. The business model was basic. Resell a semi-known brand’s product on Amazon, or source a device people wanted in China and resell it on Amazon at a slim margin.
This past month, we’ve interviewed four riveting guests on Built to Sell Radio.
John shares the transferable lessons on Built to Sell Intel, a monthly live webinar hosted for our listeners.
Carrie and Dave Kerpen started Likeable Media, a social media agency, in 2006.
The business grew to more than 50 employees when the couple met for their annual partner’s retreat. The Kerpens realized their business had blossomed into a big success which they estimated was close to 90% of their net worth.
Shawn Finder built email marketing platform Autoklose to $1 million in revenue when a chance encounter at a conference led to an acquisition conversation with VanillaSoft. Finder thought his company was worth much more initially than VanillaSoft did – their valuations were quite far apart and both sides had to negotiate to ultimately meet in the middle.
Mike Agugliaro is an electrician by trade and over 12 years built Gold Medal Service to around $700,000 in revenue with his partner Rob Zadotti.
The days were long, which was one reason Zadotti decided to quit.
Agugliaro took a few days to consider how things had gotten so bad. He realized they had been making a lot of mistakes and knew they could do better. Agugliaro convinced his partner that if he would stay, they could build a better company together.
Zadotti agreed, and that kicked off a journey that would see Agugliaro and Zadotti build Gold Medal Service into a $32 million company with double digital profit margins.
Marc Elkman built Fresh Meal Plan, a meal delivery service for healthy eaters, from an idea to $20 million in annual revenue in just three years.
Still in his twenties, Elkman earned a spot on the Inc 500 list of fastest-growing companies in America. Then he caught the attention of New Heights Capital, a private equity group focused on the fitness industry. New Heights acquired the controlling interest in Fresh Meal Plan in 2016 and Elkman continues to hold a minority stake.
Over the last month, we’ve interviewed four fascinating guests on Built to Sell Radio.
John Warrillow shares the transferable lessons with you on Built to Sell Intel, a monthly live webinar hosted for our listeners.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz hosts this Q&A and asks for John’s take on four successful exits.
Wes Mathews built High Level Marketing, a digital advertising agency, to $6.5 million in annual revenue. The business was thriving, but when COVID hit, Mathews started to question the risk he was shouldering employing 49 people. It was around that time that Mathews received an email that would change his life forever.
This week on the show, we tried something a little different.
Instead of interviewing an owner about their exit, we canvassed founders for their questions about building to sell and asked the host of Built to Sell Radio, John Warrillow, to answer them.
In this episode, John draws on his experience interviewing more than 300 founders on Built to Sell Radio to answer five essential questions.
Ben Leonard is a fitness enthusiast who found himself in bed with a heart problem in his early 20’s (he’s fit and healthy now). His doctors told him to rest. Said not to go to the gym, he cleared out his bag and noticed some of the accessories he used had worn out prematurely.
The experience sparked an idea. Leonard decided to launch a brand of fitness accessories made to last longer and cost less than the alternatives. He named his fledging company Beast Gear. He borrowed around £1,000 from his father and ordered 250 skipping ropes with the Beast Gear logo emblazoned on them.
James Prebble co-founded Palladium Digital, a consultancy helping companies think about their digital strategy.
The company experimented with various business models until they landed on helping private equity groups get a return on their investments. Private equity groups hired Palladium to perform “digital due diligence” before they invested. Along with identifying any flaws in a target company’s digital strategy, Prebble and his team were also asked to identify any untapped digital assets that, if adequately exploited, had the potential to transform the business being considered for investment. Discovering these so-called “Rembrandts in the attic” is what private equity groups often look for to jack up their return on investing in your business.
Andrew Gazdecki was born in Detroit and lost his father as a young boy. He and his Mom grew up using food stamps. In College, Gazdecki created an online marketplace for freelancers (think a tiny version of UpWork). He sold his online marketplace for $50,000 and said it “felt like a trillion dollars” at the time.
Back in 2013, on the heels of building a successful online dating application, Darrell Lerner decided to apply his experience in the dating industry to pet adoption. He built a website and mobile app called AllPaws which allows users to find a pet based on a variety of criteria important to people considering adopting an animal.
Jim Estill is one of the most successful entrepreneurs you’ve probably never heard of.
In 1975, Estill started EMJ Data, a technology distribution company, from the trunk of his car and grew it to $350 million in sales before taking it public.
Henry Hyder-Smith and Steve Denner started UK-based Adestra in 2004. Adestra is a digital marketing software that helps big companies handle email campaigns, among other things.
The company grew nicely. By 2016, it had around $9 million in revenue and a client list that featured some of the U.K.’s best companies. Hyder-Smith and Denner decided it was time to go beyond their borders and enter the U.S. and Asian markets. To fund the effort, they raised $7.2 million from the Business Growth Fund (BGF), one of the U.K.’s largest private equity groups. BGF’s investment valued Adestra at around $35 million — a little shy of four times revenue.
Before Zoom, when you wanted to meet with a group of people remotely, you used a teleconferencing service. If you lived in Canada during the early 2000s, you probably used one of Frank Cianciulli’s lines.
These days, you’re just as likely to watch a football game on a mobile phone as you are on an old-school TV. The technology that enables you to watch your favorite show on whatever device you have handy was made possible by Jason Flick. Flick co-founded a company called You.i TV with a vision to “own the glass.” He struck deals to provide the user interface, which enabled content to be viewed across devices with the likes of the NFL, NBA, and just about anyone else who produces original content.
In 2014, Adii Pienaar started an email marketing platform for retailers, which became Conversio. By 2019, Pienaar had $2 million in revenue and 14 employees.
In 2004, Cesar Quintero started Fit2Go, a meal delivery service in Miami. The business delivered healthy meals to office workers in South Florida, and by 2017, Fit2Go was earning 12% profit on $3 million in revenue. That’s when Quintero decided to sell half of his business based on a four times EBITDA valuation.
Mike Malatesta built Advanced Waste Services, a company that helped businesses dispose of their industrial waste, to $45 million in annual sales before a fateful lunch changed his life forever. It was with a division president of Covanta (NYSE: CVA) who saw acquiring Malatesta’s company as the perfect way to enter the industrial waste industry.
Despite starting with just $10,000 in 2004, Jon Morris built Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency, to more than 100 employees before deciding to sell part of the business to Quad, a global marketing services provider.
At age 36, Greg Alexander decided to start Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales consultancy. Over the next eleven years, Alexander built the business to 30 employees who collectively generated about $30 million in consulting fees per year.
Pete Martin built EntryPoint Consulting to 34 employees when he sold it to KPMG for a staggering 12 times earnings — without an earn-out.
Jack Rivlin co-founded The Tab, a U.K. based media company that published digital campus newspapers across the U.K.
After ten years, The Tab had earned almost 6 million unique visitors and raised $10 million of capital from the likes of investors, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Things were looking up for The Tab, but when an attempt to crack the U.S. market failed, things started to unravel.
Ryan Daniel Moran built Sheer Strength, a supplements business, up to a run rate of around $10 million per year when he decided it was time to sell.
Saud Juman built PolicyMedical, a company enabling hospitals to document their procedures and policies, into a software company growing 100% a year when he sold it for 7.2 times revenue. It was a remarkable exit for a business Juman started in his mother’s basement.
Tyler Jefcoat co-founded Care to Continue, which provides in-home care for seniors, in 2012. Jefcoat built the company to more than 100 employees when he got an offer from a private equity group for more than five times EBITDA. Jefcoat was thrilled. The only problem? His partner wasn’t ready to sell, which kicked off an acrimonious battle ending with Jefcoat selling his shares back to his partner.
Todd Kaufman and his partner Justin Searls started Test Double, a custom software development company, in 2011. The business was a success from the start and grew more than 25% a year. By 2019, Kaufman and Searls were generating more than $10 million in annual revenue and putting more than $3 million to the bottom line each year. An outside valuation consultant suggested if they ever wanted to sell, Kaufman and Searls could get around 6.5 times profit for their business or around $20 million.
In 2002, Lee Richter and her husband bought Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Northern California. Californians were embracing alternative medicine, and the Richter’s wondered if their affluent customers would invest in holistic therapies for their pets. They began offering acupuncture and chiropractic treatments for animals.
Mark Timm built Cottage Garden, a company selling decorative music boxes, to $8 million in revenue and around $1 million in EBITDA when he decided to sell it.
Timm sold the business for around 4.5 times EBITDA. He got half of his cash upfront, with the other half paid over a five-year earn-out. Timm not only stayed for his earn-out but when the acquirer decided to move the offices of Cottage Garden, Timm agreed to repurchase the business, only to sell it two years later, for a second time.
If you’re feeling exhausted from running your company, you can take a little solace from Michael G. Dash.
Dash built Parallel HR Solutions, a staffing company, up to around $5 million in revenue with clients like Overstock.com, Goldman Sachs, and Discovery Channel. When the relationship with his partner broke down, he decided to buy her out. The negotiation got ugly and ended up in a six-year lawsuit costing Dash more than 1 million dollars in legal fees. His former partner decided to set up a competing business. All the while, Dash struggled with addictions ranging from gambling to cocaine.
Rob Walling started an email service provider named Drip back in 2012. Walling bootstrapped his growth to almost $2 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) when, in 2015, Clay Collins, the founder of Leadpages, came knocking.
Stephen V. Smith built WordSouth, a marketing communication agency to 30 employees before a rare condition landed him in the Intensive Care Unit of his local hospital for seven weeks. Close to death, Smith gathered his team and began the heart-wrenching process of delegating his business’s critical pieces to trusted employees. Little did he know at the time, that decision would be an essential element of building a sellable company.
In 2015, Nathan Hirsch and his partner started FreeUp.com, an online marketplace of virtual assistants. Four years later, Hirsch and his partner were billing more than $12 million when they received an acquisition offer from a customer they couldn’t refuse.
In 2001, Adam Torres started Team Dynamix, a software used by colleges and universities to keep their IT department organized.
David Jondreau built American Sign Language, a company that supplied interpreters on contract, to $2 million in annual revenue when he decided it was time to sell.
Tom Farinacci II built Houston Green Leaf up to 35 employees when he solid it to Grounds Control, a national landscaping company, for around four times EBITDA.
Kim Walsh-Phillips founded Elite Digital Group, a marketing agency for clients looking to leverage social media. Walsh-Phillips built her firm to $3.2 million in revenue, but she got stuck when she reached 30 clients.
Gary Nealon started selling ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets under the RTA Cabinet Store brand. It was around the time HGTV was taking off on a steady diet of home improvement shows. Nealon was contacted by one of the show’s producers who had a last-minute request for a shoot where they needed kitchen cabinets. Nealon scrambled his team and delivered.
Peter Carlin started Logicearth to improve how companies teach their employees online. They built e-learning courses that were almost as good as being there in person. They caught the attention of a marketing agency called The Creative Engagement Group (TCEG), which had clients that needed online courses.
Alex Rink built 360pi, a software application that provided online retailers with competitive pricing information.
360pi grew into a multi-million-dollar company with 40 employees when Rink began hearing his business might be worth as much as 3-6 times revenue.
Jonathan Evans was an air ambulance helicopter pilot when he started to think about how drones could safely navigate the sky around him. Commercial pilots had rules of the sky, but there were no guidelines for drones despite companies from Amazon to Walmart beginning to experiment with using drones.
It’s a big week at Built to Sell Radio as we celebrate our 250th episode. That’s 250 entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, and owners who have shared their stories and their time over the last 5 years.
To mark the event, Built to Sell Radio’s producer, Shawn McDonald, takes over the mic to highlight insights from some of the most talked-about, most popular, and most memorable episodes from the course of the show.
Back in 2007, Aric Bandy saw Google investing heavily to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and so decided to pivot his company, Agosto. Instead of offering general IT consulting, Bandy focused on helping clients move their businesses online using something Alphabet calls the Google Cloud Platform.
David Yaffe was working at Google when he spotted an opportunity to connect advertisers with smaller publishers competing for online advertising dollars. He and two friends started Arbor, raised more than $2 million in seed capital and built a prototype. Two years later, Arbor had grown to 25 employees when LiveRamp acquired them for more than $100 million.
The format for Built to Sell Radio typically features our host, John Warrillow, interviewing an owner who has recently sold their business. This week, we’re going to try something different. Today’s episode features John’s analysis of four of the exits we’ve featured on the show. John will break down his key takeaways and transferable lessons.
When Matt Schmeltz and his partners acquired CloudCraze, it was a simple software application helping businesses that use Salesforce.com manage their customer relationships. CloudCraze generated $2 million in annual recurring revenue, but Schmeltz & Co. figured it could do much more.
In 1995, with just $5,000 in start-up capital, Ashok Vasudevan launched Tasty Bite offering ready-to-eat Indian entrees to American consumers.
Twenty-five years later, Tasty Bite is America’s largest brand of prepared Indian food sold everywhere, from Walmart to Whole Foods. In 2017, Vasudevan announced he had sold the company to Mars, which has a portfolio of beloved brands including everything from Uncle Ben’s to Skittles.
Have you ever stayed in a fancy hotel and wondered how much they pay Aveda for those little bottles of shampoo? Turns out, there is a company called Pacific Direct that acts as a middleman between the hotel chain and the company supplying the shampoo.
Peter Demangos has started two businesses in the Human Resources sector. One was a bootstrapped insurance brokerage where they sold employee benefits programs to large clients. The other was an HR software company called Collage, where Demangos and his co-founders raised $3.5 million of investment capital and sold three years later for $15 million.
Debbie King was running on a treadmill so familiar to service company owners. Her company, Association Analytics, helped associations make sense of their member data, and she was wasting time on proposals that often did not get accepted. Then, when King did win a project, she was creating a custom solution for every job that required her to hire senior-level staff and personally get involved in client work. The model put a cap on her business, and when she reached 20 employees, she decided it was time to get out.
Lee Gregory built Sir Lines-A-Lot, a company that paints lines on highways, to 40 employees. It was blue-collar work, so when Gregory learned his company could be worth north of eight figures, he decided it was time to sell. During this interview, Gregory drops dozens of knowledge bombs for aspiring value builders.
Josh Davis started Spirit of Women, a marketing agency selling content about women’s health to hospitals. Davis built the company up to almost $10 million in annual revenue when he kicked off a process to sell it, which he hoped would garner an offer of around 7x Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA).
David Lekach started Dream Water; a natural sleep aid bottled in a 5 oz shot similar to the famous 5-Hour Energy Drink.
Lekach built Dream Water up to almost $10 million in annual revenue before selling it to Harvest One, a cannabis company, for $34.5 million in cash and Harvest One stock.
Our show is all about maximizing your take from the sale of your business. We’re about helping the seller outmaneuver the buyer to maximize the seller’s take from an exit. We think it’s a noble cause, but every once in a while, a guest reminds us that selling a business doesn’t have to be so confrontational.
Before the pandemic, fancy salad bars were popping up in major cities across the US, making the category one of the fastest-growing sectors of the restaurant industry. Despite their popularity in major cities, when Ana Chaud moved to Portland, Oregon, she was surprised to see a shortage of good salad options.
When we discover a vaccine or reliable treatment regime for COVID-19, there will inevitably be an unscrupulous gang of counterfeiters trying to make a quick buck by selling fake remedies.
Michael Spinosa and Scott Greenwell started a digital marketing agency called Unleashed Technologies at the start of the 2007 financial crisis. Spinosa believes the recession helped Unleashed get started because their flexibility and lower fees enabled them to pick up business from larger rivals who were losing customers amid cost-cutting. By 2019, Unleashed had grown to over $6 million in revenue when they were approached by LINC Partners, a private equity-backed group looking to do a role up of digital marketing agencies.
In 2012, Gabriela Isturiz co-founded Bellefield Systems, a company offering a timekeeping application for lawyers. Over the next seven years, Bellefield grew to 45 employees when Isturiz decided to hire an advisor to find a strategic investor. Given Bellefield’s growth and success, Isturiz was hoping the process would garner a valuation of 5-7 times Bellefield’s Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR).
Ganesh Ramakrishna and Mike Watson built Opex Analytics to 140 employees before they sold it to PE-backed LLamasoft in the fall of last year.
Adam Ochstein started an HR software company called StratEx in the depths of the 2008 recession. CEOs were asking HR managers to do more with less and Ochstein’s software promised to help HR managers do just that. Despite the challenging economic environment, StratEx was an early success and was particularly popular with restaurants. Ochstein decided to focus on the hospitality sector and forged a partnership with Toast, one of the fastest-growing Point of Sale (POS) providers serving restaurants. The collaboration was a success, and StratEx ballooned to 160 employees.
Nashville-based Bryan Clayton was running Peachtree, a landscaping business, when the financial crisis of 2008 hit hard. Customers stopped spending money overnight. Clayton gathered his employees together and told them the world had changed and asked each to re-commit to the company. Clayton told them that the road ahead would be challenging, but he would do everything in his power not to cut staff.
If you’re working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably received a few packages from Amazon. As more people order essentials to deal with “shelter at home” restrictions, Amazon has seen a sudden spike in activity, which is causing them to hire more than 100,000 fulfillment center workers.
Staffing-industry veteran Will Gilbert co-founded Socium – a U.K.-based company supplying workers to companies that needed them – in early 2019. Within six months, Socium was generating more than 7 million U.K. Pounds in revenue.
It’s ironic that Joshua Dick lives in Italy, one of the country’s worst hit by COVID-19 deaths. He moved to Italy with his family as a reward for selling his business, Urnex Brands. Urnex was in the unglamorous business of selling cleaning supplies for coffee makers. As is often the case, the least attractive companies are often some of the most profitable, and when Urnex ticked passed $5 million in EBITDA, Dick decided to sell.
Aater Suleman co-founded an IT services company called Flux7 in 2013, built it to 70 employees and sold it in 2019 to NTT DATA, the Fortune 500 IT giant.
The action sports business is fuelled by big brands which is why, when SPY Optics built a style popular with irreverent teens, eyewear bemouth Bollé decided they had to own them.
When Scott Moore’s job as a VP at Winn-Dixie was eliminated in 2012, he decided to start a restaurant with his friend Gus Evans in Jacksonville, Florida. They called it The Maple Street Biscuit Company and offered what they refer to as “comfort food with a modern twist.”
Back in 2004, John Moore started 3D4Medical.com, a company that created three-dimensional models of the human body, photographed them and licensed the images to textbook publishers. When the Great Recession hit, Moore’s business took a turn, and he realized he needed to re-invent the company.
Grant Munro started FlashStock in 2013 to help big companies produce content (photos, videos) for advertising campaigns. In 2015, Instagram exploded, and online marketers became desperate for more content, which helped fuel Munro’s business from a handful of employees in 2014 to more than 100 in 2017. That’s about when Munro agreed to sell FlashStock to Shutterstock for $65 million.
Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, two Southern California friends traveling through Costa Rica on a post-college graduation trip in 2010, crossed paths with two bracelet artisans, Jorge and Joaquin, who were living in poverty. Jorge and Joaquin made beautiful, colorful handmade bracelets that seemed to capture the essence of their journey. Thall and Goodman asked the artisans to make 400 bracelets to take home with them.
Nick Gray built Museum Hack, a company that offers fun museum tours in major cities, to almost 3 million dollars in annual revenue when he had an idea.
Pathfinder Health offered software to therapists helping patients with Autism. The company founder was creative, but the company had reached a plateau.
When Scott Raymond started buying real estate, he looked for a property management company to maintain his buildings. He couldn’t find anyone to care as much as he did, so Raymond decided to start his own property management business.
Wes Winham was a co-founder and shareholder in PolicyStat, a software company that helps hospitals keep track of their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including everything from dress codes to how to handle life and death procedures.
Marc-Andre Seguin launched JazzGuitarLessons.net in 2009 to share his knowledge as a guitar teacher.
Dr. David Bach is a Harvard-trained scientist, physician, and serial entrepreneur.
Zain Hasan started an insurance agency called National Insurance Consulting Group (NICG), in 2014.
Jean-Eric Plamondon was in the scrap metal business where the stereotypical operator is a shady character buying metal by the ton with a blow torch in one hand and a wad of cash in the other.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey built Barefoot Cellars to sales of more than 600,000 cases of wine per year when they got the attention of E&J Gallo, America’s largest winemaker.
In 2013, Alex McClafferty co-founded WP Curve, a company that provided IT support for people with a WordPress site.
Starting from humble beginnings, Sherry Deutschmann built LetterLogic into a $40 million juggernaut which she sold recently for more than seven times EBITDA.
Ian Silverberg was considering acquiring a health club when he discovered a surprising lease that all but guaranteed his acquisition would be a winner.
Luxer One went from around $1 million in sales in their first year to an incredible $37 million in 2018 without suffering the dilution of accepting a round of venture capital in part by charging property managers up front for his system. Here’s how he did it.
Tom Pisello built Alinean, a consulting company which offered a set of tools to help salespeople express the value of picking their solution. The business was cruising with about half of its revenue coming from recurring licensing fees and the other half from consulting when disaster struck the Pisello’s family.
when he took the company public in 1999 on the way to a market capitalization of more than $3 billion. Until the bubble burst.
O’Neil-Dunne was able to patent his technology and create a competitive advantage by learning the “patois” of his industry. Here’s how.
In 1999, Peter Kelly was at Stanford business school when he and two partners spotted an opportunity to remake an industry – used cars.
Mark Deutschmann started Village Real Estate in 1996 and by 2018 he had grown it to 350 salespeople. Then six of his agents decided to compete with him. Anyone would be upset, but you’ll be surprised at what Deutschmann did next.
Glenn Grant always assumed he would sell his company for a multiple of EBITDA… until private equity firms started talking multiples of revenue. He decided to learn more.
After falling ill, Nation Leagues owner, David Heimlich, needed to sell his business – but to his surprise, it was worthless. He learned the hard way why you can’t be the center of the business.
When Tommy Berretz had his successful swimming pool company valued, he had just one (big) problem: he didn’t like what he found out.
John MacInnes pulled his business out of a rut by evolving into a subscription-based model. Here’s how he did it.
From a standing start, Dinesh Dhamija grew European online travel agency eBookers to more than one billion in sales in just five years.
Matt Slaine used his wisdom from Wall Street to buy the perfect company, and later sell it for a perfect price.
James Roman grew iVelocity’s revenue by a whopping 1000% – was the stress that ensued worth it?
Matt Darby was burnt out and wanted to sell the business – even if it wasn’t for cash.
Kristin Delwo co-founded Stacks, a software used by librarians. Though the software was still early in its life, Delwo wanted to scale quickly and decided to look for a deep-pocketed acquirer.
Sometimes, the very best acquirer for your business may surprise you.
Altia Systems has just crested 20 employees and was fine tuning the latest version of its camera system. So how on earth did it sell for $125 million?
Want to bring in a President to run your company day-to-day? Here’s how to get it right.
We talk a lot about how you sell a business, but the real satisfaction comes when exit and expectations match.
If too many cooks spoil the broth, can too many owners derail a sale?
The Traffic & Conversion Summit attracts 7,000 attendees and keynote speakers like Sir Richard Branson. So why would the creator want to sell it?
CJ Whelan and his co-founder evolved a typically “free service” into something that customers were more than willing to pay for – and remain loyal.
Alex Bates’s company used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict the future, but even he couldn’t have anticipated a 10X payday when he sold his company
Andrew Lamppa wanted to sell his restaurant within two years of buying it, but it would take another twelve before he had something an acquirer wanted to buy.
Kogentix’s product and service offerings may be complex, but their huge growth resulted in an ending that’s easy to understand—an acquisition by the biggest digital marketing agency in the world.
Find out how Erik Van Horn went from running a business for only two hours a week to making an eight-figure exit.
Strategic acquirers will pay more for your company — here’s how to make your business irresistible to them.
From the acquirer to the seller, Ross Buhrdorf bought more than 25 companies at HomeAway, then sold his business to Expedia for a whopping $3.9 billion. Now, he’s sharing his secrets – from both sides.
Connie Fenyo went all in, risking everything to purchase Dye & Durham. And when buyers came knocking, her gamble paid off.
Building a sellable business doesn’t have to take years. Drew Kraemer received his first acquisition offer nine months after he started Marketplace Strategy.
The two founders of Stelligent were burnt out running their consulting business until they agreed to stop doing one thing that changed just about everything.
From an agile SMB to the big, corporate environment of one of the Big Four auditors – this business owner learned negotiating a price is only half the battle.
Turning business down can be tough for an entrepreneur, but Mitch Durfee learned the hard way that saying ‘yes’ can lead to disaster.
Find out how Mitchell Reichgut built Jun Group to sell.
Procrastinating the sale of your business? One entrepreneur shares a cautionary tale that reveals the best time to sell your company may be when someone’s willing to buy it.
How do you place a fair valuation on your company when one partner wants out while the other is ready to continue?
When is the best time to start thinking about an acquirer? For one company, they had it on their agenda since day one.
You’re excited to get an offer for your company, but it’s not what you had hoped for. You’re tempted to react with righteous indignation – but is that really the best way to maximize an acquisition offer?
Philip Williams’ environmental consulting company was going to be sold to one of the biggest players in the oil industry. But just as the check was about to be signed, the deal took a strange turn.
Washington state’s legalization of recreational marijuana sounded like an entrepreneur’s dream, but the reality had Brandon Neth looking for an exit after only 5 years.
Tyler Tringas maintained his independence from beginning to end, starting with bootstrapping his SaaS company and then ultimately navigating the sale alone.
Steve Murch’s BigOven sale is his latest in a series of successful multi-million-dollar exits. Find out how he did it.
Backing out of a deal is never easy, so when Keith Weigand discovered his acquirer was going to buy his company and terminate his employees, he had a tough decision to make.
century. When they started looking for new funding, they found a buyer instead.
The story of Tiny Devotions is a cautionary tale about the importance of getting out while you’re ahead.
Data analytics provider Zodiac was preparing to raise an A investment round for its customer lifetime value software when NIKE decided they wanted to buy the company.
From a service no one wanted anymore to a growing business and a strategic buyer, find out how AMI was rebuilt to sell.
Angela Mader started selling her fitbook through retail giants like CVS, Target and Walgreens. Little did she know, Mader was also attracting the attention of one of the world largest acquirers.
When a health scare sent Jim Remsik looking for a buyer for his company, he had to decide whether to sacrifice a high-multiple exit for his personal priorities.
Mergers can be painful. But when Mitchell Feldman was approached by Microsoft about merging with another company, the result was a match not even HPE could resist.
David Hauser’s Grasshopper is a masterclass in building a business to sell. With no venture funding and fewer than 40 staff, Grasshopper was acquired 12 years after its founding for $165 million in cash and $8.6 in Citrix stock.
A service-based company can be a tough sell, so Eric Enge found a buyer while his best asset was still on the table: himself.
Sophie Howard built and sold a 7 figure Amazon e-Commerce business in less than two years. Here’s how she did it.
Stephen Heese buys fallen iconic brands and brings them back to life. Found out how he turns big personal risk into great rewards.
Nathaniel Broughton grew Spread Effect to a $4 million company in only four years — so why would he sell for a rock bottom multiple?
Ross Hoek built Impres Engineering into a $2.5 million company and got a fair acquisition offer. Little did he know, it was too good to be true.
It can be tempting to expand your niche to grow your business, but the broader the market you serve, the less valuable you may be to an acquirer.
Despite having distribution at Whole Foods, Kroger, and Safeway, salsa-maker Julie Nirvelli found herself on the brink of bankruptcy. She sent a last-ditch email to four potential acquirers – and you won’t believe what happened next.
With celebrity endorsements like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, Viviscal hit €50 million in revenue…so, why would the CEO want to sell it?
Chemco Industries’ customers included Walmart, eBay, and Amazon, which is one reason they were so irresistible to an acquirer.
Ross Organic was a family business, so when Stephanie Leshney took over from her father, she knew she had to make some changes if it was going to grow into a more valuable company.
Tom Hannon’s publishing company grew rapidly, and he received 4 offers. So why does he wish he handled his exit differently?
Pete Borum practically invented the term “influencer marketing.” So how did Borum raise $15 million dollars and attract multiple acquisition offers in an industry that didn’t exist before he showed up?
Digital marketing agency Blast Radius went from 10 people to more than 400 in less that 10 years, ultimately attracting the attention of WPP who acquired them in 2007. Here’s how they did it.
Gorny built his first business- and lost it. He was determined not to let that happen again.
Teetering on the brink of liquidation, a key hire at Dimple led to a dramatic turnaround that resulted in a $13.4M exit.
Embanet broke just about every rule there is for running a company and still sold for $200M.
Oribe sold in early 2018 for $441M, but in 2008 they were just a few sketches of shampoo bottles on a piece of paper. Tev Finger shares the surprising tactics they used to drive revenue.
Impact LABS had no hard assets and little intellectual property, so why would ContextLabs want to acquire them for millions?
Finding an acquirer for your business feels a lot like searching for an investor, but as Moritz Plassnig found out, there is one crucial difference.
Harpaul Sambhi’s company was 8 days away from bankruptcy. So why would LinkedIn want to buy it for millions?
While Michael Pedone survived off of food stamps as a kid, he dreamed of living a lifestyle where money wasn’t scarce. Fast-forward a few decades, and Pedone sold his first company for $1.2MM.
Scott Miller knew that telling his employees he wanted to sell his $3M company, Miller Restoration, could get messy. But he wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.
Back when mobile phones had green screens with black dots on them, Andy Nulman founded Airborne Mobile. In one year, the company went from $2M in revenue to $20M driven by the explosion in the adoption of mobile devices.
Richard Manders co-founded iAutomation and built it up to $12M before deciding it was time to recapitalize. Manders sold 75% of his company for almost 8 times EBITDA to a Private Equity Group (PEG) and held 25% interest in the company after the sale.
After a motorcycle accident shattered Jon Read’s collar bone into 6 pieces, he wasn’t able to follow-through on his post-surgical rehabilitation appointments because of his busy travel schedule. So, he created an app.
Four years ago Nexalogy CEO Claude Théoret was counting the employees he had to lay off. His company had burned through their $600,000 seed round of investment and he was running out of cash. An ugly split with a former co-founder had divided his team, and Théoret had to turn to his wife for a $40,000 loan.
The market for digital assistants is booming. Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa and Google has Google Assistant. Now, thanks to Charles Jolley, Facebook has Ozlo, a digital assistant designed to outsmart Siri and Alexa at their own game.
David Fairley estimates he has sold more than 20 online properties but admits it was the sale of Hammocks.com—one of his first exits—that taught him the most.
Drew Goodmanson started Monk Development as a custom website development shop and evolved it into a product enabling churches to establish an online presence. With more than 300,000 churches in the United States, Goodmanson’s company took off and he grew it to more than $3 million in recurring revenue per year, leveraging the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model.
Cindy Whitehead started Sprout Pharmaceuticals and created the drug ADDYI, which has become known as the “female Viagra”.
Anthony Lacavera has started 12 businesses, six of which he has exited. His exits have ranged in value from the $6 million he got for one of his recent start-ups to the $1.3 billion that Wind Mobile sold for.
Back in 2013, Dave Ripley became fascinated with Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency market was gaining notoriety and Ripley and a friend decided to start Glidera, a company focused on creating tools to help developers integrate cryptocurrency.
Chris Muench started C-Labs in 2008 to go after the burgeoning opportunities presented by the Internet-of-Things (IOT).
Jim McManaman started his accounting firm in a small town of 3,000, so when he decided to sell, he had to figure out how to do it without tipping off his employees.
Etienne Borgeat co-founded PCO innovation, an IT consulting firm, in 2000. By 2016, the firm had 600 full-time employees and offices around the world, which is when Accenture knocked on their door.
Tom Franceski and his two partners built DocStar up to 45 employees when they decided to shop the business to some private equity (PE) investors. The PE guys offered four to six times Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA), which Franceski deemed low for a fast-growing software company.
In 2014, Hank Goddard got an offer of one times revenue to buy his software company, Mainspring Healthcare Solutions.
Sohail Khan built J.V. Global Consulting into a $3 million consulting business, offering training boot camps and consulting on how to set up joint venture partnerships. Khan was approached by one of his clients wanting to buy his business.
Jay Steinfeld started selling blinds online in 1993. The e-commerce pioneer went on to build Blinds.com into a $100 million category killer before Home Depot decided enough was enough and made Steinfeld an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Dan Martell started Spheric Technologies to help Fortune 500 companies build website portals, an emerging business back in 2004. Within four years, Martell had scaled the business to 30 employees when he received an acquisition offer that would change his life.
Susan Hrib started an oil and gas industry consulting firm called Signum back in 1994.
Terry Lammers took over the family oil wholesaling business in 1991. By 2010, Tri-County Petroleum was selling $42 million worth of gas and oil, when Lammers decided it was time to cash in.
Brian Ferrilla started Resort Advantage in 2006 to help casinos adhere to new anti-money laundering laws. Criminals were laundering money through casinos and Ferrilla’s software helped casinos help spot the bad guys.
n 2012, Randy Ambrosie was hired to run 3Macs, a Montreal-based wealth management firm with $4 billion in assets under management at the time.
If you own Chicago Bulls sunglasses—or sunglasses from just about any other NBA team—you owe your eyewear to Jason Bolt.
In 2011 Josh Holtzman, the founder and CEO of American Data Company, gathered his employees into a conference room to announce “Fifteen Cubed”, a company-wide initiative to grow to $15 million in revenue by the year 2015.
Entrepreneurs can be categorized into two groups. On one hand, you have the doers. These are the people who organically grow a business over time. They plod along for years, or even decades in the same business. They look for small, incremental improvements every day.
birthday. As that milestone approached, Oshman started getting his business ready to sell.
Jill Nelson built Ruby Receptionists, a call answering service, into an $11MM business when she met with an investment banker who told her the technology she had built to answer calls could be worth a mint.
Joey Redner started Cigar City Brewing in Tampa Bay in 2009 with a vision of being the first quality craft beer in Tampa at a time when craft beer was gaining popularity across the country.
Ari Ackerman started Bunk1 in 1999 to give parents a way to keep in touch with their kids while they were at summer camp.
Dan Faggella started Science of Skill, an e-commerce website selling self-defense videos and paraphernalia, in 2013. His goal was to sell the business as soon as possible, and he started soliciting offers just 14 months later.
Shelley Rogers started Admincomm Warehousing to help companies recycle their old technology. Rogers purchased old phone systems and computer monitors for pennies on the dollar and sold the gear to recyclers who dismantled the technology down to its raw materials and sold off the base metals.
SnapSaves was created by Buytopia, which has a deal-of-the-day business model similar to Groupon. Started by Michele Romanow and her partners in Buytopia, the idea was to let shoppers snap a picture of their grocery receipt using the app.
In the early 2000s, Carl Gould gained notoriety in New Jersey for building upscale modular and log homes under the banner Outdoor Imaging. Gould invested heavily in growing his reputation in the New Jersey market.
Adam Glickman started hawking “Jumbo Brand Condoms” from his dorm room in 1989 under the moniker “a safe jumbo is a happy jumbo.” His brand grew and upon graduation, he started America’s first retail condom shop in New York City.
David Trewern grew DT to $10 million in annual revenue before he sold it to STW Group for almost 10 times profit after tax, getting maximum value for his business because he started to look at the world through the eyes of his would-be acquirer.
Lois Melbourne and her husband started Acquire Solutions, a software business that helped large companies manage their employees. After 18 years, they had grown to 85 people and received an offer from a private equity firm.
Anthony Amos and his brother started HydroDog, an Australian mobile dog washing and grooming service. After revolutionizing the industry and growing to more than $10 million in annual revenue, Amos decided it was time to sell.
John Arnott gives you the statistics on how many people he approached, the conversion rate for signing an NDA, the proportion of people under NDA who requested a face-to-face meeting and the number of offers received.
Laura Gisborne has sold six companies, including The Art of Wine, a tasting room with a subscription-based wine club division. With $1MM in annual revenue, it was still a small business, when Gisborne reasoned it was the perfect time to sell.
Ian Ippolito started Rent a Coder as an online marketplace for hiring technical talent. He quickly expanded and re-branded as vWorker. Ippolito built vWorker up to $11.5MM in revenue before he received an acquisition offer from Freelancer.com
Peter Shankman started Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to connect experts with journalists. Within three years, Shankman was generating $1.5MM from selling ads on his email blasts. That’s when hi largest advertiser approached him to buy HARO.
Bobby Albert took over the family moving business. Determined to succeed, he transformed his father’s five-person business into a fast growth company, eventually employing 150 people before being approached by a strategic acquirer.
Bert Martinez started Accelerator, a supplements company. When Martinez started to worry that one of the supplements he sold, ephedra could be banned, he put his business on the market, only to realize it was worth a lot less than he thought.
When you get an acquisition offer, your employment contract can be a key element. Just ask Eric Sit. Sit’s company was acquired by Detection and six months later, Detection was acquired. Sit lived to regret the employment contract he signed.
Barry Hinckley founded Bullhorn with his two partners. They raised three rounds of financing and went on to sell for $135MM in 2012. Hinckley and his team raised money from family, friends, and venture capitalists and have the scars to prove it.
For the better part of 40 years, Michael Gerber has been encouraging business owners to work “on, not in” their business. Gerber’s knack for simplifying the complex art of starting and growing a company really resonates.
Frank Cottle led an investor group to buy Hi-Mark Software for 10 times EBITDA. Cottle then sold a chunk for 15 times and ultimately sold his last tranche of equity for more than 16 times EBITDA to Lufthansa.
Mark Stephenson and his partners grew Media Edge Communications, to north of $10MM when they agreed to sell. If Stephenson had a do over, he would change his earn-out structure to avoid leaving money on the table.
Steve Huey bought The Learning House for $2.7MM in 2007 because he saw the opportunity to professionalize its sales and account management. Five years later, Huey sold the business for $27.5MM earning his shareholders an 8 to 1 return.
, a personal finance podcast. Sehy’s journey was unusual: he started as a financial advisor, building a firm with $65MM in assets under management until he received a letter prompting him to sell.
Doug Chapiewsky built CenterPoint Solutions Inc. into an Inc. 500 company with $5 million in revenue and more than $3 million in EBITDA before he sold it to Israeli-based Nice Systems.
Manny Fernandez started HomeBuyingCenter.com in 2007, just as the real estate market started to wobble in the United States. As it turned out, his timing was perfect as his site helped underwater homeowners unload their real estate.
James Garvey grew Objective Loyalty from a standing start in 2005 to $2.5 million in EBITDA. When he and his partner decided to sell they were able to quickly double the value when they switched sell tactics.
Peach New Media was launched in 2001 and sold in 2015 by Dave Will. Will had built his software company up to 40 employees when he received an offer from the private equity group Accel-KKR that he simply could not refuse.
Jim Beach sold American Computer Experience for $200 million, which sounds like a fantastic exit, but when I asked Beach if he had any regrets I was surprised by how long a list of lessons he had to share.
In 1999, Andrew Weinreich sold Six Degrees for $125 million. In the following years, he went on to sell three other companies including one to IBM and another to Match.com. In this episode you will learn his secrets to exiting big.
Laura Steward, the founder of Guardian Angel Computer Services was told that her business was worth less than 50% of one year’s revenue. Determined to get more for her business, she underwent a makeover focusing on her subscription program.
Rod Drury founded Xero, a cloud-based accounting platform. Drury got the capital from selling another company, AfterMail, for $15M plus $20M in a potential earn-out—not bad for a company with a little more than $2M in revenue.
Part of building to sell is knowing who might buy you, so you invest in valuable assets. Take Northern Lights as an example: after selling, their stores were closed because the acquirer wanted their wholesale distribution channel – not the stores.
something else. Hear his story on this week’s episode.
Barry Wood sold two virtually identical businesses over an 18 year period. The first was external and the second, internal. His exits clearly show the differences in an as close to apples-to-apples comparison as possible. The pros and cons may surprise.
Mike McCarron sold MSM Transportation to the Wheels Group for $18.6 million. After receiving the letter of intent (LOI) he signed it immediately. If McCarron had the opportunity to do it all again, he’d handle this request differently.
Carl Silbersky sold his software company to Apple in 2010 for a reported $29M. The negotiation was smooth but Steve Jobs would not budge on one point. Learn how one of the savviest deal-makers of our time approached his acquisition.
Katherine Hague co-founder of ShopLocket was a prodigious fundraiser in the two years from idea to exit. Hague describes some of the landmines to avoid when raising outside capital and why she still has one regret about the sale to PCH.
Dennis Hart sold his advertising agency for 7.1X. That sounds like a great exit but it disguises the complexity of the negotiations. Hart felt like he knew precisely how much EBITDA he generated until the buyer started questioning his math.
How much would someone have to pay you to buy your business today? That’s the question Kris Jones was asked when billionaire Michael Rubin approached him about selling. Jones’ answer to Rubin’s question may surprise you.
Back in 2011, Nathan Latka started Heyo, a social media company that helped businesses advertise on Facebook. By 2016, Heyo had raised $2.5 million in seed and venture capital financing and, by all accounts, it was a successful business.
John Maddox co-founded the digital agency Ten Fast Feet in the depths of the financial crisis. Despite his timing, Maddox was able to grow the business to $2.3 million in sales by 2013, when he got a call that would change his life forever.
Julie Cole and her partners built Mabel’s Labels into a $10 million business before acquisition in early 2016. Cole and her partners were able to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to their sell price using this negotiation technique.
Part of what made Mabel’s Labels attractive to Avery was the brand Cole and her partners had created. To see how your brand will impact the value of your business, get your Value Builder Score and turn to the section in the report titled “Monopoly Control”.
Natalie Susi got her product Bare Organic Mixers, low-cal cocktail mixers into over 300 bars and restaurants in southern California before she sold. To maximize her take, Susi had to decide whether she was selling her company or her product.
Aaron Houghton sold iContact in 2012 for $180 million. The first round of growth was financed by convertible debt, which Houghton recommends for its simplicity. Hear how he parlayed an initial investment of $250,000 into a $180 million exit.
A strategic acquisition is a different animal. The strategic acquirer will place a value based on how much more of their product they can sell, which is exactly what Business Objects did when they bought Next Action Technologies, for 8X revenue.
Yvonne Tocquigny built her advertising agency up over 35 years working with clients like Jeep and Dell. Then in 2015, she got a call asking if she would consider selling. The problem was that her agency had become part of who she was.
Trevor McKendrick had created the best-selling Spanish-language Bible app when he was approached about an acquisition. The offer was 3.5x revenue but Trevor got them to 5x with a combination of chutzpah and a knack for reading the fine print.
In this episode, Stephan Spencer details three strategies he pursued to withdraw from his business’s day-to-day operations. By 2010, he was able to take a six-month sabbatical which ultimately lead to a sale in 2010 with only a six-month earnout.
up to $4 million in revenue before he sold it in a multimillion dollar exit in 2015. Schoen was able to attract a number of buyers because he had created an operating manual employees could follow.
When selling a business there are too many things that can go wrong, too many egos with the potential to be bruised, and too many zeroes at stake to negotiate on your own behalf. It’s a lesson Alexis Neely learned the hard way in this DIY disaster.
Usually a 9-figure exit takes more than a year to complete but when Blackberry was behind schedule on it’s tablet launch, they saw Hampus Jakobsson’s business as a saviour. This led Blackberry to a $150M acquisition in less than six weeks.
When negotiating to sell your company, the fastest way to spike your earnings is to introduce a competing offer. But you don’t always have that luxury. It may be better to simply fake it, which is exactly what Trent Dyrsmid did to boost his take.
, John Warrillow interviews Phil Carson, the founder of a diabetes testing supply company. Carson wanted out of the business he and his partner had built from the ground up.
Would you rather have one million dollars in the bank today or a chance to have ten million a decade from now? It’s a philosophical question that comes down to the time value of money and your tolerance for risk.
into a profitable business after year one. Ten years later he sold Merced for $192 million, equating to over 3 times top line revenue.
In this episode of Built to Sell Radio you’re going to hear from Erik Huberman, who started Swag-of-the-month, a T-shirt business he quickly scaled from start-up to sale in 18 months.
Huberman considers the exit a success, but during negotiations there was one question the acquirer asked that Huberman wishes he had never answered.
Rick Day built Daycom Systems into a $23 million dollar business over a 17-year run. Daycom sold phone systems but the company had a problem: it had become too reliant on one supplier.
Mark Patey started Prodigy Engineering in 2010 to help companies leverage hybrid engine technology. Four short years later, Patey accepted a multi-million dollar offer to buy the company.
Andrew Yang had built Manhattan GMAT into an $11 million business when Kaplan Test Prep, an 800-pound gorilla in the education business, threatened legal action against his company.
Derek Sivers sold CD Baby for $22 million dollars and decided to do something interesting with the money.
Small service-based businesses are typically not worth very much, but Walter Bergeron made one simple change to his business model that garnered a $10 M acquisition offer.
The first time David Phelps sold his dental practice, he ended up in a legal battle that cost him more than $100,000.
Bobby Martin had built First Research up to $6.5 million dollars in revenue when he sold the business to a Fortune 500 company for 26 million dollars.
John Ratliff started Appletree Answers in a spare bedroom of his house in 1995 and by 2012 had grown it to 650 employees and 24 locations when he decided it was time to sell.
Finding a buyer for Killer Shade was relatively easy. Closing the deal — and getting paid — was a whole lot harder.
Rick Martinez is a military nurse who stumbled into the staffing business by accident and grew his company to 600 employees. Then, when he decided to sell his business, he took a surprisingly zen-like approach to negotiating the deal.
Kevin Sullivan was riding high running one of Seattle’s largest printing companies when the 2008 recession hit.
The pros and cons of selling to a partner.
The hidden dangers of agreeing to an earn out when selling your business.
Aaron Walker thought the money from selling his business would make him happy, but life after selling was a lot harder than he thought.
The key man discount can take a zero off the value of your business. Find out why and how to avoid this trap when selling your business.
Listen now to hear the lessons Bo Burlingham has learned after interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs regarding their business exit.
After building his business for twenty years, Stuart Crane sold it for $43M, which includes an extra million he got by using this one simple technique.