About this episode
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.
In 1997, Estill joined the board of Blackberry and stayed through the company’s heyday that ushered in the era of the iPhone.
He then became a partner at CanRock Ventures, a venture capital firm.
In 2015, Estill bought Danby Appliances, the company he currently runs, and has grown it to $400 million in annual sales.
Estill has invested in more than 100 start-ups, and his latest side hustle was an innovative company called ShipperBee.
The best way to think about ShipperBee is to imagine an Uber for your packages. Instead of calling a courier company, a business schedules a pickup with ShipperBee, and it dispatches someone from its network of independent drivers to pick up your package. Those drivers use a chain of lockers ShipperBee calls “hives” to get your package to its destination with a lower carbon footprint than the traditional courier companies.
Estill started the company in 2018. He invested $5 million of his own money and quickly raised another $25 million from friends and family. Over three years, he grew ShipperBee to 150 full-time employees before he sold it in January 2021.
Despite his incredible resume, Estill approached this interview with surprising candor and humility — even sharing a couple of his mistakes in negotiating his exit from ShipperBee. In this episode you’ll discover:
- How Estill built ShipperBee from the ground up to sell it.
- Why Estill raised money for ShipperBee despite being able to finance it personally.
- The critical role patents can play in the value of your business.
- The choke point in a three-sided market.
- A nasty trick some acquirers play to attempt to gain leverage over you.
- A simple strategy to ensure your company is ready to sell at a moment’s notice.
- The difference between a financial and strategic buyer.
- The biggest mistake Estill made in selling ShipperBee.
- The ever-so-fine line between running an assertive process to market your company and overplaying your hand.
- Why it’s almost always a mistake to name a price for your business (and when it might make sense).
Estill invested more than a million dollars in protecting ShipperBee’s intellectual property by filing a series of patents, giving ShipperBee a competitive moat. We’ll help you figure out how to differentiate yourself from competitive threats in step six of The Value Builder System™ — complete step one for free by answering the Value Builder Score questionnaire.
Check out the written by John Warrillow on Want To Jack Up Your Company’s Value? Think Like Warren Buffett.
And written by Colin Morgan on The Acquisition Entrepreneur too.
Curious about what your company might be worth? Start with a Built to Sell Valuation.
About Our Guest
Jim Estill is CEO of Danby Appliances, a niche manufacturer of specialty appliances, which manufactures and distributes over 2,000,000 appliances per year. Jim Estill is leveraging his tech background to create new markets and products for Danby such as the Parcel Guard.
Jim is a Canadian technology entrepreneur, executive, and philanthropist. He started his first computer distribution business from the trunk of his car while in university and grew that business to $2 Billion in sales. Jim is also the founder of ShipperBee.
Jim has invested in, mentored, and advised over 150 technology companies including Blackberry. He joined their board before they went public and served for 13 years.