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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
, a T-shirt business he quickly scaled from start-up to sale in 18 months.
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.
Along with her father and brother, Laura Coe grew Litholink into a $10M business with 50 employees. Then one day, a multi-billion-dollar business called.