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The Surprising Story Behind PetSmart’s Acquisition of AllPaws

April 1, 2021 |  

About this episode


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.

In just over 2 years, AllPaws accumulated more than 1.5 million registered users and was receiving nearly 1 million visits per month while ranking in the top 100 of all lifestyle apps on Apple’s App Store.

Despite AllPaws’ success with consumers, it wasn’t translating into the next unicorn business. Lerner had chosen advertising as a way to monetize his traffic and was hovering at around $1 million in annual revenue. Lerner decided his business was worth more in the hands of a larger organization that could better leverage the vast amounts of pet and owner data he was collecting. Lerner decided he would sell AllPaws if he could get at least $3 million for his company. That’s when PetSmart turned around and offered him a whole lot more.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • How Lerner quickly solved the “chicken or egg” problem of anyone building a two-sided market.
  • An innovative way to align your M&A advisor with your goals.
  • A sneaky (yet brilliant) way Lerner created competitive tension for his company by drawing Petco into his negotiations with PetSmart.
  • How to know when you’ve pushed an acquirer as far as they’ll go on price.
  • The biggest challenges for an entrepreneur as an employee/contractor after you sell.

To quickly build his supply of pets that needed to be adopted, Lerner partnered with giving him instant access to more than 100,000 pets that needed a new home. Have you considered your best options for the fastest growth with the lowest risk? If you need some ideas, we’ll complete The Growth Quad in module four of The Value Builder System™. Get started for free by completing your Value Builder Score questionnaire.

Check out our article on How Tomorrow Influences The Value Of Your Company Today.

Check out our full M&A Glossary

About Our Guest

Combining his love for pets with his prior experience as co-founder of a popular online dating application, Darrell Lerner launched AllPaws in 2013 to offer a better way for people to find their next pet. The online dating style pet adoption platform quickly grew to millions of users and was ultimately acquired by pet industry leader PetSmart in 2016.

Darrell Lerner is a serial entrepreneur and business operator with deep experience starting and growing consumer-digital businesses. As a product-driven founder who developed his entrepreneurial spirit at an early age, he has worked on several multi-million user products and achieved successful exits while overseeing multiple C-Level roles. In his free time, Darrell enjoys watching basketball, baseball, and horse racing, listening to the band Rush, and playing with his rescue dog Kona (perhaps the biggest AllPaws success story of all).

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